I am the parent of three non-LGBTQ+ children, and I fully support this document as a way to ensure public school as a safe place for all students.
I remember driving my kids to school the day after the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook elementary. My eyes filled with tears of fear and anxiety imagining that they might not be safe at their sweet community elementary school. I opened up my minivan door and my son hopped out, only to be greeted with open arms by his teachers, who said "Good Morning!"--just like they did on every other day of school. In that moment I was flooded with relief and comfort knowing that no matter the situation, my children were surrounded by adults who cared for them just as I would. School was a safe extension of my home, and that gave me and my kids so much comfort during a traumatic time.
For LGBTQ+ kids, regular days at school can feel uncertain and fear-filled. They're often navigating physical and psychological spaces that constantly scream: YOU ARE DIFFERENT! THIS SPACE IS NOT FOR YOU!" Over time, this kind of marginalization can make kids feel as fear-filled and anxious as I was the day after the 2021 school shooting. But unlike the random cruelty of violent events, the systemic obstacles and challenges facing LGBTQ+ kids are fixable. With a relatively small allocation of resources, we can remove some of the things that make schools feel unwelcoming to LGBTQ+ students. I want LGBTQ kids and their families to feel that same feeling of peace and belonging when they enter their school buildings. Don't we want to do everything in our power to unmarginalize all children in our communities? I urge you to consider the recommendations made in this guidance, and push forward for a safer, more inclusive public school system in VA.