Some individuals claim the LGBTQIA+ population is sinful, harmful, and broken. A local school district disagrees and developed a plan to support their LGBTQIA+ students from further ostracism, demonization, and ignorance against a backdrop of survey results and national statistics indicating this population is at a dramatically increased risk for depression and suicide compared to their peers. These are the facts. 

What is LGBTQIA+?

The letters LGBTQIA+ are often used as an umbrella term for the community as a whole. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex, asexual, pansexual, and allies are new definitions for many of us, but they are not new ideas. At least 7.1% of U.S. adults identify as something other than straight or heterosexual according to a 2021 Gallup report. Chances are, you have a loved one that identifies as LGBTQIA+. That’s the math.

What it isn’t

Negative sexual experiences are routinely misrepresented for political gain and fuel religious agendas. Deviant behaviors and assaults are knowingly distorted and then quickly spread by bigots. This recently happened in Virginia when a boy wearing a skirt brutally assaulted a classmate. The boy violated the girl in the restroom and the issue twisted until it became about the rights of transgender students using restrooms where they identify. There was no correlation between the assault and a transgender student. None.

There is zero evidence to support the claim that gender non-conforming students pose a greater risk to the health or safety to the rest of the student body. For those still in denial, study after study confirms there is nothing dangerous about letting people use the bathroom or locker room that matches their gender identity. Kids don’t generally have sex in bathrooms; they vape. But that’s a topic for another time.

Simply put, anti-gay propaganda spreads lies. 

Gender, sex and sexuality  

Learning the difference between gender, sex, and sexuality will not make anyone gay or trans. This is as absurd as stating I’m transitioning to a unicorn because I talk about unicorns, I respect unicorns, and I own a unicorn fanny pack. 

Gender is a set of behaviors, qualities, and activities we assign to a person based on the anatomy that presents itself at birth. Gender expression is limitless. Worldwide and throughout history, we know people express gender identity in many ways and can be fully accepted, thriving members of their community. Gender identity is shades of gray, not black or white. 

An individual’s sex is not their gender. Sex is referred as to the biological characteristics of a person, such as their sex organs, hormones, and chromosomes. As many as 1 person in 100 has some form of disorders of sex development. Science doesn’t lie; we do.

Sexuality is sexual orientation. According to Medical News Today, there are eleven labels to identify someone’s intimate, romantic feelings. When someone’s sexuality doesn’t align with the beliefs of the adults in their lives, feelings of isolation and depression make death seem like a better alternative. Don’t force heterosexuality, it doesn’t work.

What is inclusion? 

Inclusion is empathy, respecting differences, and uniting anyway. Inclusion drives opportunities for healthy social development, promotes a collaborative culture, has economic benefits to the community, and results in better organizational outcomes, according to a report from McKinsey & Co. Therefore, “We must take bold steps creating inclusive, resilient, quality education systems fit for the future,” said the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, in 2020.

True education encourages diversity of thought. Exclusion is its antithesis.

☀ MORE IN OPINION

What inclusion feels like

Being called the wrong name or regularly mispronouncing your name is frustrating. Ask any Karyn, Kristen, or Kersten. Honor chosen names and pronouns, even a Dick, although I prefer Richard. It’s their identity, not yours.

Additionally, kids just want to play where they feel most comfortable. Their sense of belonging may be with the gender with which they identify. Be the transformative coach that teaches the benefits of sports both on and off the field. Then do it without bias.

The rights of many are not being taken away by advocating for a few. But if someone’s politics, religion, or cultural ideals get in the way of decent humanity, families are welcome to homeschool or send their child to a private or parochial school. The state of Colorado even gives tax credits for doing so.


Andrea Chacos lives in Carbondale.

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Andrea Chacos

Andrea Chacos lives in Carbondale.