As someone who has worked with youth, including LGBTQA youth, for over nine years, I'm concerned not only with the decision to remove links to LGBTQA resources from the middle school website, but also with the way the decision was presented in the paper.
Other than the brief comment from the counselor, there was no explanation of why such resources are a positive thing for young people and families to have access to. Nor was there mention of the fact that schools in Nevada need to tread carefully when it comes to remove resources for LGBTQA students or forbidding things like after school clubs for them; Nevada has multiple laws in place preventing discrimination or targeting of LGBTQA students.
Worse still, there was no commentary from youth in the school, who are the people most affected by these changes and the beliefs behind them. There were assumptions made that straight or cisgender students would feel "unsafe," which is rarely the reality. In my considerable experience, young people are far less bothered by the existence of those who are different than them than adults are. So not only were adults allowed to put their own concerns into the mouths of hypothetical children, but no young people were actually able to speak on the issue. Then again, perhaps LGBTQA students would be reluctant to do so, as several adults charged with the oversight of their school made it clear they think them less deserving of support and resources than their peers.
In the event the Post, or anyone else, continues reporting on this issue, I also urge you to press back on people like Matt Hyde and Tricia Strasdin, who insist they're not against LGBTQA students, that they believe in their well-being but not in THAT way. What way do they mean? A way that acknowledges they face unique challenges at times, or that their parents may need help supporting or understanding their child? A collection of some of the least offensive, well-sourced resources on the topic? A way that says to LGBTQA students, a population a considerably higher risk for bullying, harassment, and self-harm than average, "you belong in this school?"
And what way would they prefer? That those students exist but not make any need or issue related to their sexual orientation or gender identity known? That in exchange for keeping the accurate, affirming information the school also provide links to places that insist LGBTQA children are broken, misguided, or confused, things all rejected by years and years of research? How does it promote social-emotional learning to not be able to find information about yourself when you need it?
To the school and school board: do better. Support all the young people in your care, even if you personally don't understand or agree with their identities.
To the parents: Be allies to the LGBTQA youth in our community. Even if they're not you're own. I cannot tell you the number of times I have seen one supportive adult be the difference between surviving and giving up.
To LGBTQA Youth: While some adults seem to panic at any mention of your existence or needs, I promise you there are many more of us who can, and do, affirm and support your right to live as you are.
-Sam Wall, LSW
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