When Ron DeSantis signed the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” back in March, my heart dropped and I felt ill. Although not a parent, nor a resident of Florida, I am a proud “Titi” to my sister’s four children who range from age 3-11 and they all live in Florida. I also volunteer with LGBTQ+ youth in the state of North Carolina, where similar bills have been proposed.
Last October, my sister showed me a letter sent home to parents discussing how some of the textbooks in a 5th-grade class needed to be replaced for violating the Florida Department of Education’s new requirements around Critical Race Theory. I witnessed firsthand how quickly the ban on Critical Race Theory went into full effect in my twin nephew’s schools and was appalled. As a nonbinary/transmasculine person with close friends who identify in the BIPOC community, and LGBTQ+, I was scared to know what my nephews and nieces would be taught in their foundational education years. Questions ran through my mind: Will my nieces and nephews one day reject me? Will they get bullied for having an LGBTQ+ relative? Will my existence be erased in the eyes of my nieces and nephews? I then wondered how this erasure and ban of both Critical Race Theory and LGBTQ+ education would impact them as they grow up and become adults who will one day most likely vote on legislation like this.
As summer comes to an end and schools start to come back into session, this often exciting time is now looming with a sense of fear for LGBTQ+ students, their parents, and families. It’s a rather scary time with heightened sense of safety concerns for LGBTQ+ students of all ages from the proposed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, especially for trans and non-binary students. According to information provided by the Human Rights Campaign, a total of 12 states have passed house bills banning trans kids from playing sports and 7 states passed laws censoring LGBTQ+ language in classrooms.
In response to the increased anxiety and fear among both LGBTQ+ students and their parents, The Pride and Joy Foundation will host SAFE at School: what parents of LGBTQ+ youth need to know for this school year on Tuesday, September 13 at 5 pm PT/8 pm ET and provide you with support for going back to school.
Our SAFE at School Zoom call will be divided into three key areas and there will be room for questions as well as networking and building your own parent and caregiver support networks through the school year:
Legal Support : Josh Covington (he/him/his) from The Advocates Project based in Louisville, Kentucky will share more information about parents’ and students’ legal rights. Josh is a former school principal and a gay dad.
Physical Support: Mo Bailey (she/her/hers) is a public speaker, business, and empowerment coach based in Norfolk, Nebraska. Mo will speak on holding a safe space, whether at school or finding ways in your own home, for your LGBTQ+ child and their peers. You can learn more about Mo Bailey on her website.
Emotional Support: Jennifer Boudrye (she/her/hers) is a mom of LGBTQ+ kids, high school counselor, and founder of Parent With Care, a parent support and coaching service for parents of LGBTQ+ teens and tweens. Jennifer will speak on ways to provide emotional support for LGBTQ+ youth as they navigate going back to school in challenging times.
Save your spot today and Register for SAFE at School on Tuesday, September 13 at 5 pm PT/8 pm ET! This event is free and open to the public. We will be accepting suggested donations.
Do you feel empowered to start your own Gay-Straight Alliance, Rainbow or Diversity Club at your school? Extracurricular activities like these are your legal right under the Equal Access Act. Don’t forget we will have our virtual courses coming soon to help you start your own with the help of Ær Queen (they/them,fen/fens) and Nicholas Prosini (they/them). Find more information about this in our recent blog post announcing our producers of Leaders for Inclusive Change. We will have more details soon when the course will be available online, so stay tuned.
To keep current on anti-LGBTQ legislation, check out this ACLU site, it gets updated every Friday and you can follow the statuses of live and dead bills in each state. If we show up to the polls, we do have power. Look at what happened in Kansas. We must keep going, our lives depend on it. We hope to see you in September!
About the Author: C. Rizleris (they/them) is a contributing writer for the Pride and Joy Foundation. They also volunteer with LGBTQ+ youth at the Guilford Green Foundation and serve on the Transgender Task Force Committee for the city of Greensboro, NC. Currently, they are working on a hybrid essay collection centered around gender and sexuality as a candidate for an MFA in Writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts. You can find C. on Twitter @rizwrites.