Friday, January 27

Why you *need* to care about next week’s state Board of Education anti-LGBTQ+ resolution

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by Dion Manley

As a board member of the Gahanna-Jefferson school district, my role is to serve every student in the district and make sure we’re offering the best resources available to every school in our district. 

This coming Tuesday, the State Board of Education will vote on a resolution that contains out-of-date ideas about sexuality and gender, and would take away opportunities from trans and LGBTQ+-identifying students in their schools.

As a parent, as a school board member, and as a trans person living in the state of Ohio, I know this resolution will impact the ability of our trans, non-binary, and questioning kids to grow up healthy, happy, and safe in Ohio—and the impact that will be made on their peers, who will witness their struggle every day.

We need every community member across the state to speak up for these kids, who cannot represent themselves and their own futures in front of the State Board next week.

My community made a choice when they elected me. They’re proud that they took action and can now see a demonstration of our community’s beliefs on our school board. They’re proud of their stake in making Gahanna an inspiring, supportive, and empowering place to live and learn. They’re proud of our work together as a community to protect and empower every student in our district. And I hope all of us can come together to empower every student across Ohio in the same way. 

The misguided and harmful resolution in front of the State Board is vague in its instructions, but pointed in the beliefs it promotes. It will instill fear in administrators and educators who disagree with any step that discriminates against any student, but who want to follow the direction of the State Board of Education. That same fear will be visible to our students, who will see that some students or some identities can be discriminated against by the state.

This is not a lesson I want my child or any other student to learn. 

In our district, we have a deeply collaborative relationship with the parents and families of our students, and we also work hard to understand our students’ points of view. Our students don’t have issues with diversity or inclusion. Parents, and sometimes administrators, struggle more with these issues. But none of us are best serving our students by dividing them or by creating fear. 

In Gahanna we instill in all of our students the value of belonging to our community, along with our shared principles of empathy, diversity, creativity, and pride. We’ve been able to march in our first Pride parade, distribute several hundred Gahanna Lions Pride shirts, and demonstrate leadership in equality and diversity in many ways. I am inspired by our growing connections to other districts that facilitate collaborative learning from each other, sharing of experiences, and networking together. The strength of our network is growing, and now is the time to work on communal and collaborative growth so that our youth can enjoy Ohio’s bright future.

We strive to be welcoming every day at Gahanna Jefferson Public Schools with our motto “Where Students Come First.” And I am so proud to be a part of that legacy of service, inclusion, and diversity.

Please join me in helping our communities move forward by taking part in the actions below. 🔥

Ignite Action

  • Learn more about the anti-LGBTQ+ resolution in front of the State Board of Education here
  • Get connected to State Board of Education members to let them know your thoughts here
  • Sign Honesty for Ohio Education’s public petition against this resolution here
  • Find instructions for how to submit your testimony to the State Board of Education here.

Dion Manley is a board member of the Gahanna-Jefferson school district. He was the first out transgender person to win elected office in Ohio. 

About Author

The Buckeye Flame welcomes guest commentary from LGBTQ+ Ohioans in support of our mission to support community and civic empowerment through the creation of engaging LGBTQ+ Ohio content that chronicles our triumphs, struggles, and lived experiences. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in these pieces belong solely to the author of that individual piece, and not necessarily to the The Buckeye Flame.

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