A Lot to be Thankful For
In all the frustration, anguish, and outrage that many of us have felt after the anti-GLBT sentiments expressed by Trustee Manuel Rodriguez, it’s easy to forget that we have a lot to be thankful for in Houston ISD.
We’re thankful for this.
Thanks to the dogged efforts of dedicated community activists such as Jenifer Rene Pool, and thanks to our pro-LGBT champions on the HISD board, such as Anna Eastman and Juliet Stipeche, the Houston Independent School district has one of the most progressive non-discrimination policies in the nation. Recent modifications, enacted just this past summer, added sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression to the list of classes protected against discrimination by district policy.
This policy has given the LGBT community a truly protected place at the table of the largest school district in the state of Texas, and provided a means by which we could express our outrage at the actions of Trustee Rodriguez. As Trustee Eastman highlighted in her recent speech at Houston’s Transgender Day of Remembrance, the new policy “created a safe space for that outrage to be voiced, by kids, by straight allies who are employees of our district, by gay parents who are employees of our district.”
It has also provided a way for LGBT students of the district to begin to feel safe and come out to their peers, forming Gay-Straight Alliances in numerous schools across the district. For example, the GSA at Milby High School, which is in Trustee Rodriguez’s District, has an active and vocal membership. The recent policy update meant that these students felt safe and protected enough to actually speak out against this bully on the board at the November 10, 2011 HISD Board Meeting.
Being LGBT means putting up with a lot of bullies. This updated policy codifies the district’s stance against that bullying. Despite the fact that some of the district’s own Trustees have yet to really understand it, that’s truly something to be thankful for.