To the Superintendent of Schools Michael Martirano and to the members of the Board of Education:
I am writing both to praise the inclusion of a full-time LGBTQIA+ initiatives specialist as part of the FY23 budget for HCPSS, and to strongly advocate for its funding as a part of the budget agreement to be voted on this week. I strongly agree with members of CARY:
Our school system’s budget is more than a document of financial planning, it is also a statement of our values and priorities. One of these priorities should be addressing the pressing needs of LGBTQIA+ students and staff. For LGBTQIA+ youth, this is sometimes a matter of life and death.
Parents and allies have been watching in horror as anti-LGBTQ+ initiatives have moved forward across the country. In Florida the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation threatens the well-being and safety of young people in their own schools and compromises the precious relationship of trust between teachers and students. The movement to suppress affirming materials from school library collections has made itself known even in our own county.
Yesterday in Texas Governor Abbott directed Texas Family and Childrens Protective Services to investigate all transgender children and to treat parents who affirm their care as abusers. In addition he has instructed all teachers and persons with a “duty to report” to report transgender students. This is the world our children are waking up to today in Howard County, Maryland.
We absolutely must be the community that stands with LGBTQ+ students and families and not against them. In a national environment of censure and suppression the Howard County Schools can be a light shining against the darkness that threatens our vulnerable young people.
It is our school system’s responsibility to lift up all children. A full time LGBTQ+ initiatives specialist will continue, deepen, and expand the progress that HCPSS has made in supporting students whose well-being is often at risk and whose educational success is so often compromised by rejection. Funding this position is a logical next step in the school system’s commitment meeting its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion goals:
HCPSS has worked to advance equity and embrace diversity and inclusion into every major undertaking.
It is committed to eliminating disparities in access, opportunity and inclusion as the key to closing achievement and opportunity gaps and providing the nurturing and supportive school environment that every student deserves.
Thank you for your hard work on behalf of our students and all members of our school communities. Please affirm the importance of our LGTBQ+ students by including this position in the budget.