Letter: Parents have role in education process
To the editor:
In regard to the statement in May 17's Eagle editorial that "followup [on the reaction to a derogatory word in a school production of the musical 'Shrek'] should be left to capable education professionals," I participated in the statewide Safe Schools Program for Gay and Lesbian Students, undertaken as a result of additions to the state anti-discrimination law, from 1995-2000. With state funding, the leadership of the state Department of Education and the participation of state chapters of PFLAG (the United States' first and largest organization uniting families and allies with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer), parents, gay and lesbian youth and allies participated in speaking engagements in schools across the state. We also provided concrete resources for schools. We knew that the most effective way to bring about change in school communities was to tell our own, often heartbreaking stories of our families' experiences, and to ask that school communities expand their understanding, and welcome and protect our kids.
That initiative still exists, in much-reduced form, at the Department of Education. And although times have indeed changed, much remains to educate all school communities about the expanding understanding of sexual orientation, gender identity, and other deeply personal forms of "diversity". We cannot leave that progress entirely to "capable education professionals." Parents are often still the most necessary advocates and teachers on behalf of their children, and the most sensitive to language that can hurt and exclude, or embrace and welcome. We should all be grateful that they have the knowledge, experience and courage to help us continue
to move forward.
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