10/5/2020 Statement by Heather Godley
Last month in Greendale, a homophobic woman verbally attacked a young man who is visiting our community. While I know that neither of these individuals were students, I wanted to draw it to your attention because if she felt emboldened to yell homophobic venom at an adult, our children in Greendale are even more likely to suffer from these types of attacks. Our LGBTQIA+ students are among the most vulnerable members of our community.
I wanted to take this opportunity to inform the community about something that school board members and administrators already know from the 2019 YRBS survey. Less than half of Greendale LGBT students at the high school feel a sense of belonging at school. These Greendale students report being bullied and feeling alone in life at almost twice the rate of straight-cisgender students. 82% report problems with anxiety, and 61% have been so sad or hopeless that they stopped usual activities in the year prior to the survey. Half of Greendale LGBT students engaged in self-harm in the prior year, and almost a third seriously considered suicide and made a suicide plan. Given this data, we must ensure that our students feel actively protected, supported, and cared for at school especially given the homophobia that exists in our community.
I would like to encourage Greendale schools to audit their curriculum to ensure that LBGTQIA+ individuals are represented in history and other courses, and encourage staff to become familiar with resources like History UnErased and GLSEN. I would also like to remind the high school administrators that we desperately need the GSA to be revived in a way that LGBTQIA+ students and their allies will feel comfortable taking part. I know that the high school administration was approached last year by a high school student who asked that a GSA be formed, and they agreed to start one this year. While I know that your plates are certainly full due to the chaos caused by the pandemic, I would urge the school not to lose sight of the urgent needs of our LGBTQIA+ students, both to help them at school and as a protective measure if and when they face discrimination in the community.