Open Mic: School Districts Must Support LGBTQIA+ Community

Brew Coffee and Beer - Santa Rosa, California
A sign at Santa Rosa's Brew Coffee and Beer was recently vandalized. Photo courtesy of Brew.

On March 25, Roseland School District held a board meeting on Zoom that was attended by many students and community members. Attendees were eager to voice their experiences and demand that the district prioritize the needs of its students of color and LGBTQIA+ students. During public comment, other young people used their time for anti-LGBTQIA+ hate speech and racial slurs. Moderators allowed this to go on for over a minute. Students and parents were triggered. Later, the school board opted to shut down all public comment, preventing many who had waited hours to speak from being heard. 

The RSD board did not record the meeting, so we are writing from our collective memory of what transpired. 

That same week, someone vandalized murals at Brew Coffee and Beer, scribbling out ‘BLM’ and ‘Black Trans Lives Matter’.

White supremacy and hatred toward LGBTQIA+ people are alive in Sonoma County. 

March 31 was Trans Day of Visibility, celebrating the lives and resiliency of transgender people. 

But when hatred is neither addressed nor denounced, visibility is not safe.

We have recently provided LGBTQIA+ cultural awareness presentations to RSD classrooms and counselors. We value those opportunities, but systemic changes are only possible with commitment from those with the most power. We have offered training to district-level faculty, yet our offers have not been met with interest.

In a county with more than 40 school districts, it is difficult to enact change in our education system. We call upon all school district boards of Sonoma County to take proactive steps to keep marginalized students safe and centered in meetings between students and staff.  

The following must happen to ensure students are safe: 

  • That RSD detail a plan for keeping a public record of all board meetings, keeping public comments safe and open and denouncing hate speech and white supremacy
  • That every school district of Sonoma County to publicly illustrate their understanding of the marginalization and threats that make school less safe for students of color, Latinx, and LGBTQIA+ students 
  • That school board members and district-level faculty to invest in LGBTQIA+ cultural humility trainings 

Sincerely,

Concerned members of The LGBTQIA+ Coalition of the North Bay, including representatives from 

  • Aging Gayfully
  • Face 2 Face
  • Lesbian Archives
  • Letter People 
  • LGBTQ Connection
  • LGBTQI Timeline
  • North Bay LGBTQI Families
  • Out in the Vineyard
  • Positive Images LGBTQIA+ Center
  • Queer Resource Center at SRJC
  • Sonoma County Pride 
  • The HUB at SSU
  • TransLatin@s
  • TRANSLIFE Conference 

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