Not sure how your day starts, but every day begins the same way for me: scrolling through my daily news alerts for “LGBTQ+” and “Ohio,” usually before I even get out of bed.
Did The Buckeye Flame miss some news? Did something gay happen in a corner of Ohio that slipped our notice? Did anther publication cover an LGBTQ+ story using outdated language or did they both-sides an issue that reasonably only has one ethical side?
Increasingly, the alerts yield stories that were already on our radar.
You can thus imagine my surprise last week when I read a headline in a national publication proclaiming, “In Ohio, Trans Students Triumph Against the Odds.”
They did? When? What’d we miss?
Then I read the subhed:
An Ohio official tried to introduce anti-trans policies into the state’s school board guidelines. Trans students, their families and friends organized against them–and won.
The piece for Harper’s Bazaar by activist Erin Reed detailed the anti-LGBTQ+ resolution currently in front of the Ohio Board Board of Education (BOE) proposed in September by conservative Madison County State School Board member Brendan Shea.
In addition to many paragraphs of language rejecting the existence of trans students, the “Resolution to Support Parents, Schools, and Districts in Rejecting Harmful, Coercive, and Burdensome Gender Identity Policies” calls on schools to reject Title IX language that would protect LGBTQ+ students from discrimination.
At the October 12 meeting, the resolution was referred to the BOE’s Executive Committee before it could be voted on by the full body. It was a reprieve, albeit a temporary one. The Executive Committee quickly scheduled a meeting about the resolution on Halloween, frustrating LGBTQ+ advocates who were hoping any consideration of this resolution would be postponed until after the election.
In Reed’s piece (and related tweets), she wrote about how trans students “triumphed in Ohio” and labeled the outcome a “victory.”
I wrote an article for Harper's Bazaar on how trans students triumphed in Ohio, even with some of the steepest odds and a state board of education stacked against them!https://t.co/KDAYfBe27S
— Erin Reed (@ErinInTheMorn) November 2, 2022
Here’s the thing: optimism is a wonderful tool of activism.
As the introduction of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is exponentially increasing at ridiculously alarming rates, we must seize on positive outcomes, shout them from the rooftops, and position them to inspire further action. We must learn from these events and herald any and all victories.
Only, this “victory” wasn’t a victory at all.
Regarding the October 12 meeting, Reed wrote, “Ultimately, the board voted 12–7 to send the resolution to committee, effectively blocking it from going into effect.”
The Executive Committee meeting on Halloween featured both a fierce determination to pass this resolution as well as several alternate paths to reach that goal.
Not only did Shea’s resolution survive the Executive Board meeting, but two new resolutions were introduced that continue the spirit of the anti-LGBTQ+ language, if not every single sentence of the original rhetoric.
The latest amendment proposed by Charlotte McGuire, board president, absolutely still calls for a rejection of Title IX protections for LGBTQ+ students.
It is genuinely a good thing when national publications and activists outside of Ohio take interest in the considerable effort legislators, school board members, and those funding them are spending here to write LGBTQ+ Ohioans — and specifically LGBTQ+ youth — out of existence. We need our struggles to be amplified.
But we can’t have declarations of victory — and it’s hard not to think here of that “Mission Accomplished” banner — when a battle is far from over. Actual harm can stem from false declarations of victory.
My fear is that such a celebration could cause complacency, could take attention away from an unresolved issue that is not currently going well for the LGBTQ+ community, and could cause disengagement at a time when we need far more involvement, not less.
I hope there will be “triumph against the odds,” and The Buckeye Flame will broadcast it loudly if and when that happens.
But victory hasn’t happened yet. And that’s important to broadcast loudly too. 🔥