|BY BELEN SUSANA DELGADO |
Once again, the Kern High School District has failed to stand in solidarity with students that are part of the LGBTQIA+ community.
On June 3, within the first few days of Pride Month, students from Centennial High posted a Snapchat video of them urinating on a Pansexual flag. Additionally, LGBTQIA+ students on campus were being harassed by students wearing Trump flags and saying homophobic and transphobic slurs.
The district’s response to these heinous acts was simply to disguise it as students having different opinions and promising corrective action. The truth is that KHSD personnel and students have perpetuated a culture of hateful behavior that has been consistently tolerated by the school district.
Two years ago another incident of harassment and discrimination towards LGBTQIA+ students occurred at Frontier High when the first GSA meeting of the school year happened, and students with MAGA flags hurled slurs at them. Then too, the district said that the root of the issue was a difference of opinions and assured that there would be appropriate follow up.
The KHSD board even approved the establishment of a student led anti-discrimination committee that would advise the board on discipline and trainings regarding LGBTQIA+ issues. Since its approval in 2019, the community and students have no knowledge of this committee.
As a student in 2019, I was excited to hear about the committee that was being established to create a more welcoming environment for my fellow queer classmates. However, since my senior year when it was first proposed and now as an alumna, I have not seen the board move forward with the anti-discrimination committee.
If this committee were faithfully implemented and serving its purpose, these incidents of continuous harassment would not be permissible. Now in 2021, we are faced with a similar situation and the district has literally the same response. You can see that they have not taken these incidents of harassment seriously and won’t unless we pressure them to follow up on the issues brought to them by the neglected and unprotected youth in their district.
The district is legally obligated to protect our students; yet they continue to allow harassment towards our LGBTQIA+ youth. Through California law AB493, they will be required to provide the necessary resources. I am sick and tired of pleading with the KHSD board to protect their students and abide by the needs of the communities they represent.
The district’s half hearted and insincere apologies are no longer acceptable. An institution like itself does not deserve the respect or trust of its students or community to lead our children down a path of respecting each other’s gender identity, expression, and sexual orientation.
We should not tolerate a school board that stands idly by and makes false promises of a better school climate, a promise that hasn’t been fulfilled since 2019 and which may never come for our students.
We need effective educational programs that can help shift narrative from intolerance to respect. Programs like the GSA are great examples; however, these groups need more funding and more spotlight from school administrators in order to create a safe and healthy environment for LGBTQIA+ students and allies.
Moreover, all KHSD staff need to participate in training to help them understand and commit to implement a culture of acceptance where all students feel welcomed and unafraid of harassment from their peers.
Let the district know how you feel about them brushing off homophobic acts. I advise the board to reevaluate their values moving forward in protecting students’ identities and promote a safe and healthy school environment for all.
If you have been a student affected by these incidents, contact Maira Rios at ACLU SoCal at: email@example.com. For a Central Valley Youth LGBTQ+ resource sheet visit www.doloreshuerta.org.
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