We are speaking out in solidarity with Grants Pass School District students who are walking out of class today, in protest of the School Board’s decision to reinstate transphobic educators.
We recognize that this is just days before Transgender Day of Remembrance, and that 2021 has been the deadliest year on record for transgender and gender-non-conforming Americans. We side with the trans people and families of trans people across the country who are fighting for our lives.
We are a group of local students, community members, parents, educators, and statewide and regional advocates, including the Rogue Action Center, who are working together to see that our local schools follow through on their commitments to make schools safe, welcoming, and affirming for all students. We recognize the many, many administrators, staff, and educators who are working hard for this vision. The recent decision of the D7 School Board is in direct opposition to this vision of belonging and safety for all students.
Research overwhelmingly shows that a sense of safety and belonging is essential for a student to develop to their fullest potential, personally and academically. In Oregon, LGBTQ students suffer from twice the rate of bullying and harassment as their peers and they are three times as likely to miss school because they were afraid for their safety at school. This kind of hostile school climate makes it much harder for students to learn and leads to depression, anxiety, self-harm, drug abuse, school drop out, and even suicide attempts. The “I Resolve” movement and its supporters are directly contributing to this hostile environment.
The recently reinstated educators stated in their court documents that transgender and gender non-binary people have no right to exist. These educators publicly stated after their reinstatement that they plan to continue their campaign against the rights of gender-variant youth. The Grants Pass School Board’s decision to reinstate these educators, after they have violated District policy, conveys the message to transgender and nonbinary students and educators that we do not matter.
Grants Pass should be a community where every child knows that they belong, that they matter, and where every teacher has the training and skills to promote the healthy development of every student, regardless of race, ethnicity, country of origin, disability, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, or gender expression.
Creating an environment in which all students matter means attending to the different needs of each student. Policies that stigmatize, pathologize, and target trans students harm all students by policing students’ bodies, undermining their agency, and making it more difficult for students to access potentially life-saving affirmation and respect.
There is no place in the Grants Pass schools for promoting transphobia and intolerance, or for any adults who intentionally cause harm to some of our most vulnerable youth.
Grants Pass students, trans youth of Grants Pass: we’re on your side!
Signed, The I Affirm Coalition