Letter: Charlotte McConnell, Sterling

The discussion about the diverse classroom libraries isn’t really about censorship or parental rights or sexually explicit content. It is about taking away LGBTQ+ rights.

There is a Loudoun based group that has been fanning the flames of this issue to influence the upcoming school board elections. They want to elect candidates who will remove gender identity and sexual orientation from LCPS 1040 policy.

This group is being supported by Family Watch International, which promotes traditional marriage. The Southern Poverty law center has designated Family Watch International as hate group because of their anti-LGBT views.

LGBTQ+ rights might seem like a single issue, but it is so much more than one issue. First, it is an equality issue. Is it ok to deny me a job because I am married to a person of the same sex? Being LGBTQ+ is not a choice.

We want teachers to reflect the diverse community they serve. 8% of high school students identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Don’t they deserve to have role models working in their schools that they identify with? Should a teacher fear being fired because of who they love?

Affirming LGBTQ+ rights is fighting to reduce youth suicide. Suicide is the 2ndcause of death for people 10-24 years old. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual students are 3 times more likely to contemplate suicide than their heterosexual peers. LGB youth are 5 times more likely to have attempted suicide than heterosexual youth. 40% of transgender adults reported attempting suicide and 92% of those attempted suicide before the age of 25.

Affirming LGBTQ+ rights is fighting against youth homelessness. 40% of the homeless youth population identify as LGBTQ. LGBTQ young people are 120% more likely to experience homelessness than heterosexual youth.

Affirming LGBTQ+ rights is fighting against absenteeism. LGB students were 140% more likely to not go to school compared to heterosexual students because of safety concerns.

LGB students report being “physically forced to have sex at a higher rate than heterosexual adolescents” (18% LGB vs 5% heterosexual). 23% of LGB adolescents have experienced sexual dating violence compared to 9% of heterosexual. 18% of LGB adolescents have experienced physical dating violence compared to 8% of heterosexual adolescents.https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/disparities/smy.htm

Affirming LGBTQ+ rights is taking a stand against bullying. LGB students report being bullied on school property at higher rates than their heterosexual peers (17.1% and 13.3% respectively). Students who are bullied are at an increased risk for depression, suicidal ideation, alcohol and drug abuse, and risky sexual behavior.

If you want to reduce teen pregnancies, then you need to reduce bullying and sexual orientation-related discrimination and include sexual minorities in teen pregnancy prevention efforts. Girls who identity as completely heterosexual had the lowest teen pregnancy risk, while the“mostly heterosexual” girls and lesbians was doubled, and bisexual girls’ risk was nearly five-fold in comparison”.

If you want to see a reduction in youth suicide, homelessness, pregnancies, and violence, we must cultivate an LGBTQ+ inclusive and affirming environment in our schools. Julie Sisson (at-large), Melanie Turner (Algonkian), Ram Venkatachalam (Blue Ridge), John Beatty (Catoctin), Jeff Morse (Dulles), Joseph Newcomer (Leesburg), & Mike Neely (Sterling) have all pledged to roll back protections for our LGBTQ+ community.

Charlotte McConnell, Sterling

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