To the Editor:
I was disappointed to read the [“Ignoring Will of the People,” The Gazette, July 16] letter regarding Dan Storck’s position on the changes to the non-discrimination policy and the family life (FLE) curriculum regarding gender identity.
All of our FCPS students deserve the right to attend school without fear or bullying, and the expansion of these policies to include transgender students underscores that right.
Almost half of transgender youth will have had at least one suicide attempt before they are 20 years old compared to 8 percent for youth nationwide. Therefore, school policies that help minimize an environment of bullying and harassment are actually a matter of life and death.
The Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) conducted an analysis of the effectiveness of anti-bullying policies around the country and found that LGBT students attending schools that specifically have LGBT-inclusive policies reported greater feelings of safety, lower rates of victimization and other harassment, and more effective response from staff when students did report incidents of bullying to them than LGBT students who attend schools that do not have LGBT-inclusive policies. When school districts decline to include gender identity, they are leaving it to teachers and principals who may not have training to figure out how to manage this issue.
A growing body of research also indicates the individual LGBT youth who hear about themselves in health and family life curricula do better on a wide range of indicators: better attendance, better grades, better post-secondary outcomes, improved mental health indicators. These are things we want for all of our students.
Adolescence is a challenging time for all children. I am proud that our School Board overwhelmingly voted to serve the needs of all of our students by expanding the non-discrimination policies to include gender identity as well as revising the FLE curriculum. The people I know in Mount Vernon do not support any form of discrimination. This is the 21st century, not the 19th.
I appreciate Mr. Storck’s support on these issues and I’m happy to support him in the race for Mount Vernon supervisor.