So here I am again emailing the school board on a Saturday, instead of heading to soccer games and brunch like many in our community. However, I needed to get this off my chest after reading the proposed policies being voted on Monday's board meeting. I will not be in attendance due to work, but I do have a few things to stay:
1. Stop perpetuating fear and hate in our community. The language in many of the new "policies' are written with such ignorance and fear that it would be laughable if not so damn devastating. They include many underlying assumptions that have been proven to be false and dangerous. For example, that exposure to education around sexuality will sexualize children or prime them for grooming for abuse. The exact opposite is actually true because when shame or secrecy is associated with sexuality it makes sexual abuse much more likely. It alsokeeps victims silent because they dont have the language or words for what is happening to them. This is why some of the most horrific examples of abuse are in religious institutions. The current investigation into the Southern Baptist Church's rampant sexual abuse ( https://www.npr.org/.../how-the-southern-baptist...) is an example of how often those most vocal about "morality" or inhibiting conversations around sex are actually more likely to be groomers and pedophiles. There is no connection between identifying as LGBTQ and sexual abuse, except that members of this community are more likely to be victims of sexual exploitation than their straight peers.
2. Which brings to me my next point, these policies are designed to be cruel and divisive. I know that for some members of the board this is point. To specifically address use of pronouns or create bathroom policies, is targeting the most marginalized kids in our community. LGBTQ students have higher rates of suicide, especially when they are not supported or feel safe at school. If enacted, you have put a target on their back. You have said that their safety and worth is not as valid as their peers. I have worked as a social worker for 17 years in Tarrant County, and at one point operated the only emergency youth shelter in our area. The number of LGBTQ youth that ended up in our care because their parents that had kicked them out for being gay was heartbreaking (and many of these were from the NE Tarrant County area). Homeless and runaway youth are also some of the most vulnerable to sex trafficking. Imagine hating gay students so much that you would knowingly put them at increased risk for death and sexual exploitation. That is what you will be doing on Monday if you vote these policies into action. And if that isn't enough, you are seeking to prohibit teachers from being safe people for those students. When these parents kicked out their kids out for being gay or abuse them, it was frequently school staff that saved those kids and supported them by connecting them to our services. But again this board majority seems to show little regard for anyone but their powerful donors.
3. The censorship of instructional materials and the new obstacles being proposed to approve books in classrooms is utterly ridiculous and reeks of fascist ideology. The limits on freedom of speech and discussions about our nation's history is beyond ironic given that some of you pretend to support limited government control. I have never seen a board so willing to use their governmental power to override the rights of parents and educators. To use this position to force your beliefs and ideas on every member of a public educational system and silence any differing beliefs. It is actually pretty terrifying. I come from a long line of conservatives in my family, and this board's overreach is their worst nightmare.
4. Is this the time to make teachers job more difficult and stressful? Are you even paying attention to the teacher staffing crisis? When GT and SPED services are being eliminated and blamed on "staffing issues", this board has decided to push through polices that add more to their plate and assume the worst. It almost feels like you take joy in running teachers out of district. It also sounds like you are saying that you are more qualified than our experienced and dedicated educators to decide what is appropriate for students. Which is incredibly insulting given that it appears none of the "majority" have education greater than a bachelor degree, and none of those are in education or library science. Kicking people while they are down is the epitome of being a bully. Stop bullying our teachers.
5. Finally, shoving a new school board election policy into this agenda is pretty telling and cowardly. You want people making decisions in our community even if they dont receive a majority of the vote? Is that because you dont think the majority of the community will support this toxic board and their lack of transparency and ethics? Or just another example of making changes because you legally can?
Lastly, for the board members that disagree with these policies, please be vocal on Monday night. We know your jobs are incredibly difficult right now. We see how the board president treats his colleagues in public meetings, and I cant imagine how much worse it must be when people aren't watching, Moms are not pleased with this behavior and would never allow our children to behave in the way this new board majority acts. We will demand better leaders and role models, but in the meantime, please dont give up fighting for our kids and for decency to come back to GCISD. We see you, appreciate you, and will fight like hell to win this community back from the divisive powers that are trying to tear us apart.
Thanks for your time. Please vote against these polices on Monday night.