SVVSD allowed complaint to derail fairness training – Longmont Times-Call
By Catherine Powers and Connie North
Recently, the St. Vrain Valley School District (SVVSD) withdrew its financial support – $ 15,000 to be precise – for equity training provided by A Queer Endeavor, a CU-based organization committed to building more schools. safe and more assertive for everyone. They did so after receiving a complaint from someone who claimed that a particular workshop had attacked their religious beliefs. We were deeply disappointed to learn that SVVSD allowed one person’s misguided complaint to derail district support for the stellar equity workshops offered by A Queer Endeavor covering topics far beyond LGBTQ-affirming schools. , such as those aimed at supporting students with disabilities, supporting families with mixed immigration status and preventing sexual assault. The institute’s last-minute funding not only had a negative impact on an important district partner, but also exponentially increased the distrust of many community members in the district’s commitment to advocacy. equity.
As an educator and psychotherapist, we encourage our students and clients to consider how institutions in our society, including Christian churches, can include and embrace all members of the community. In order to honor the dignity of everyone, we must fight homophobia, transphobia, racism and other forms of oppression when and where they occur. The workshop in question sought to explore the impact of oppression based on gender and sexuality in a religious context. As people who have received damaging messages about gender and sexuality from our own religions and education, and as people who help others heal from similar messages, we are grateful for the existence of this session in the part of extensive training on equity issues. in schools.
We cannot continue to allow homophobia and transphobia to harm our children and families just because someone says their religion tells them such oppression is justified. To equate the observable discrimination against entire groups of people with the subjective belief that some people are more worthy of rights and protections than others is both morally wrong and illogical. We are saddened that the leadership of the SVVSD could not see through this false cry of religious persecution.
Historically, all manner of harmful prejudices and oppression have sought validation and protection of religious doctrine. There was a time when many in our country believed that slavery, colonization and segregation were Christian institutions. Openly discussing the role of religion in justifying slavery and colonization is not anti-religion. It is historically accurate and essential for understanding how slavery and colonization were established and maintained. Openly discussing the role that certain religious institutions have played in justifying and perpetrating discrimination against LGBTQ people is also not anti-religion. In either case, it is equally appropriate to explore the role that faith has played in inspiring people to stand up against injustice and discrimination. Those who seek to end conversations on these topics are twisting regulations meant to protect people from social and legal discrimination. They also deny the truth and promote the continued marginalization of LGBTQ people.
We need open-minded and morally courageous school leaders to prevent the noisy few from ending open and honest discussions on difficult topics. By removing its sponsorship of the Educator Institute for Equity from A Queer Endeavor, the SVVSD administration has prioritized avoiding legal repercussions rather than doing the right thing. District leaders could still choose to publicly correct this mistake, which would begin to rebuild trust not only with members of the LGBTQ + community, but also with marginalized members of the community who intimately understand that “injustice everywhere.” or is a threat to justice everywhere ”. We believe that community members’ support for such integrity would quell fear-based resistance to efforts, like those of A Queer Endeavor, to maintain and enhance individual dignity.
Catherine Powers is a teacher and the mother of two young children. Connie North is a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist and the mother of a young child. Both are residents of Longmont.