On the evening of Oct. 9, LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Plus) students and their families met with Board of Education members in two separate forums to discuss their hopes and dreams for a new superintendent. Many important issues were raised: some new and some mirroring discussion heard in other forums.
Below are some common themes from LGBTQ+ students and their families:
Student Voice and Advocacy
Students voiced their satisfaction with current Superintendent Tom Boasberg’s leadership on LGBTQ+ issues. They reported feeling that LGBTQ+ issues brought to him received quick response and said that he has brought more district-wide attention to LGBTQ+ issues. At the same time, students expressed the need for greater power to solve their own problems. They want to be able to address their own issues without needing to raise them through an adult. Students suggested the idea of a “town hall” in which they could voice their concerns and have them be heard. They cited an example of a similar program in Jefferson County, where the superintendent attends the town hall to listen to student-raised issues.
At both forums, students and families talked about the issue of bullying, suggesting that more training be provided to principals and teachers on how to respond to incidents of bullying. (See “Resources” section below.) Students expressed concern for peers whom they fear mayfall through the cracks or stop attending school because they do not feel safe from bullying. Both families and students expressed desire for a leader who will be committed to enforcing safety and making sure LGBTQ+ students feel wanted and welcome.
Students and families both desire increased awareness of LGBTQ+ issues throughout the district . Both groups voiced interest in more widespread use of inclusive and supportive curricula in their classrooms, particularly curricula that represents the history and experience of the LGBTQ+ community. Specifically, participants pointed out the need for sexual education curriculum that is taught from multiple sexuality and gender perspectives. Family members also requested increased training and resources not only for educators, but also for families and community members, on how to support LGBTQ+ youth. (See “Resources” below.) Family members expressed their desire to see more support for teachers who chose to publicly identify as LGBTQ+.
In DPS, we are deeply committed to ensuring that all members of our school community are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or transgender status. It is critical that our students receive all the supports they need to learn and thrive in a safe and welcoming environment. Our policies and practices reflect this commitment to ensuring that our LGBTQ+ students can pursue their education with dignity and joy — from training to prevent and stop bullying, to policies and guidance materials that fully respect gender identity (including use of preferred pronouns and restrooms).
We are fortunate in DPS to have strong LGBTQ+ educators, who serve as strong leaders and role models for our students. We are also fortunate to have partnerships to support our LGBTQ+ youth, including One Colorado at the state level and the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) at the national network. Both organizations have excellent resources for families and students.
To see survey results from our large community meetings, please visit https://supersearch.dpsk12.org/survey-results/.