Guest Post: You Can Help LGBT Students in Pittsburgh Public Schools Right Now

Guest post by Rayden Sorock

As you probably know, there have been numerous attacks on LGBT students’ rights recently, many of which revolve around the much-disputed “bathroom issue.”

Here are several things you can do RIGHT NOW that will make a real difference in the lives of LGBT and gender-expansive youth in local public schools.

BACKGROUND

The Pittsburgh Public School board will host a series of public hearings beginning May 2nd with a final vote in late June to ratify the awesome draft policy from Brashear High School (see attached) .

Media: “Pittsburgh Public Schools to Unveil Transgender Policy”
http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2016/04/10/Pittsburgh-Public-Schools-to-unveil-transgender-policy/stories/201604100117

The Pine-Richland School Board is currently trying to craft a policy to maintain their current restroom/facilities practice which is inclusive and respectful of transgender students, and consistent with Title IX and their own nondiscrimination policy.

Media: “Transgender Restroom Debate Arises in Pine-Richland School District” http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/10327098-74/students-pine-richland

1. READ UP!

– Check out the attached draft policy from Brashear High School (Click here)
– Check out the attached Freedom for all Americans “Campaign in a Box” document on discriminatory bathroom bills in schools (Click here)
– Federal Appeals Court Upholds Protections for Transgender People in Landmark Ruling https://www.buzzfeed.com/chrisgeidner/federal-appeals-court-upholds-obama-administration-transgend?utm_term=.ic76gV6aRP#.wqD3EM3BqZ

2. SEND AN EMAIL

Seriously, this will only take a few minutes. Make sure to mention if you live in the district, if you are a parent of a student in the district, if you are a student in the district, or if you work with students in the district.

Pittsburgh School Board – boardoffice@pghboe.net
state your support for this policy and ensure the school board passes it
Even a quick email is helpful! They currently have 70% opposed and 30% supportive email responses.

Pine-Richland School Board – boardsecretary@pinerichland.org
let Pine-Richland know they are doing the right thing by maintaining their current policy which is in line with Title IX and their own non-discrimination policy

Talking Points:
– every student needs to use the restroom, and every student should expect safety and privacy when using them. LGBT and gender expansive students need to use bathrooms for the same reason everyone else does
– policies that protect transgender and gender expansive students are consistent with Title IX and local non-discrimination laws
– LGBT and gender expansive students are far more likely to be targets of discrimination and assault in schools
– Harassment and assault is already not allowed in schools
– Sex-segregated bathrooms do not protect people against violence. More commonly, bathrooms are places where LGBT and gender expansive people experience violence.
– We need to support LGBT and gender expansive students in schools. According to GLSEN’s 2013 National School Climate Survey, 33 percent of LGBT students were physically harassed (e.g., pushed or shoved) in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 23 percent because of their gender expression, while 17 percent were physically assaulted (e.g., punched, kicked, injured with a weapon) in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 11 percent because of their gender expression.

3. ATTEND A PUBLIC HEARING/MEETING

Pittsburgh Board of Education Public Hearing #1
There will be trans students speaking. Let’s show up to support them!

Monday April 25 (public can testify)

Monday May 2nd 5:00-7:30pm (public can attend, but not testify)

Monday May 23 (public can testify)

Possible vote on June 22

In Oakland: 341 S Bellefield Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Parking across the street, behind St Nicholas Church.
Take any bus that drops you off near the Museum/Library/Craig St. in Oakland
**There will be additional public hearings before the vote in June

Pine Richland School Board
Student Services Committee Meeting
Thursday April 21 at 6:00 pm (in high school auditorium)
700 Warrendale Rd.
Gibsonia, PA 15044

4. SPREAD THE WORD

Email your friends and family
Post on Facebook, Twitter and all that
Call some people
Write a blog post
Write to your local paper
Share this information with local organizations

THANK YOU for supporting youth in our schools!

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