I don’t usually speak at school board meetings or post on social media. I’m writing my first letter to the Sun as a dad, a voter, and someone who loves his LGBTQ+ family members and friends.
This past year, I’ve watched local parents, business owners, and even a current school board candidate make arguments that hurt our families, kids, and teachers. I’ve heard school board meeting comments that call being gay a “lifestyle choice” that schools shouldn’t say is normal. That schools should only discuss straight families and cis-gender identities.
How does it feel for LGBTQ+ kids to hear schools shouldn’t use books that teach they exist?
I’m also disappointed to see this seep into our local elections. How can it be that in 2022 we have a school board candidate speaking against Pride Month because it includes gender identity? And referred to schools introducing age-appropriate, highly regarded books about trans kids as “the sexualization of our kids” and “unconscionable”? And it’s extremely concerning to see outside interests like “No Left Turn-NJ” and “4 Education Transparency” shamelessly accuse our schools of “grooming” and try to influence our school board meetings and elections.
I almost didn’t send this letter. It’s not popular to express a negative opinion about a candidate, even if it’s based on facts or their own words. But quoting a candidate’s public statements is not bullying or mudslinging. How do we expect our kids to speak up when a friend says something racist, queer-phobic, or antisemitic when we criticize adults for speaking up?
I’ve watched LGBTQ+ families go hoarse explaining how this rhetoric hurts them. How it puts them in a weird ‘other’ category, devalues them, and makes LGBTQ+ kids less safe. Listen to them. Don’t pat them on the head and tell them to respect all views when some views diminish their equality and inclusion.