Tuesday, December 20, 2016


Sometimes we have allies and sometimes we don’t when we fight for our rights. When we fight our battles we do it for our survival, but when allies fight with us they do it for love. However, sometimes their good will  is misplaced.
U.S. school an antidote to transgender discrimination complaints
By Letitia Stein
December 19, 2016

Inside a sunny classroom at a church decorated with rainbow flags, two transgender teenagers exploded into giggles during a dance break from math at Pride School Atlanta.

They are among a handful of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) youth who have found a haven at the school, which opened this fall at a time when the number of discrimination complaints from transgender students has been soaring across the nation.

The non-profit private Pride School Atlanta is seen as the first school in the American South focused on the LGBT community and one of few addressing similar concerns in the nation.

"They don't have to fight for the right to exist here," Christian Zsilavetz, the school's transgender co-founder and director, said in an interview.

Court records and data reviewed by Reuters show a 12-fold surge in transgender student-related civil rights complaints lodged with the U.S. Department of Education - from seven in 2014 to 84 in 2016.
I love that they are proving a safe space for LGBT students but they shouldn’t have to if the schools are doing their job of proving a safe learning space for students as they are required by law to do.
At Pride School, where transgender students are the majority of its inaugural class, Josh Farabee, 14, feels comfortable showing off his spunky pink and lime hair and long mauve nails.

Under the gender-neutral restroom policy students voted for, he tried the men's restrooms but discovered he still prefers the women's.

The transgender student's days at the school are a far cry from his former public school, where classmates called him "tranny" and "fag."

"I don't wake up scared to go to school," he said.
The U.S. Department of Education has published guidelines for safe schools,
Schools must be both safe and supportive for effective teaching and learning to take place. Three key principles can guide efforts to create such productive learning environments. First, work in a deliberate fashion to develop positive and respectful school climates and prevent student misbehavior before it occurs. Ensure that clear, appropriate, and consistent expectations and consequences are in place to prevent and address misbehavior. And finally, use data and analysis to continuously improve and ensure fairness and equity for all students.
It is nice that the Pride School proved a safe space for LGBT students but to me it sounds like ghettoizing LGBT students… here let’s put them in their own school so we don’t have to worry about bullying.

The article goes on to say,
The transgender student's days at the school are a far cry from his former public school, where classmates called him "tranny" and "fag."

"I don't wake up scared to go to school," he said.
No student should be afraid to go to school

I think it is a good idea to have the LGBT school however, it shouldn’t leave public schools off the hook to provide a safe learning space for all students. A safe school policy is Westport’s Safe School Climate Plan. Their definition of bullying includes gender identity and sexual orientation.
Bullying shall include, but not be limited to, a written, verbal or electronic communication or physical act or gesture based on any actual or perceived differentiating characteristics, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national  origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, socioeconomic status, academic status, physical appearance, or mental, physical, developmental or sensory disability, or by association with an individual or group who has or is perceived to have one or more of such characteristics.
And the policy is being modified to be the model for other school districts here in Connecticut.

Let us all be working for safe schools and not for “separate but equal LGBT school “ because in life LGBT people will have to work alongside of cisgender and straight society.


Christian Zsilavetz said...

Hi Diana,
As the Director of the School, I first want to say thank you for taking the time to write about our school and our work. Secondly, I hope you will read further on our website and see that we are not exclusively for LGBTQ youth. We are a school that is free of homophobia and transphobia, where those who are having to struggle daily to exist, even with support of admin and staff and students, are welcome. As a transman with my own kids, creating a school where it is clear that my family and other LGBTQ families (and others!) would be welcome and affirmed.
Just as many churches are lgbt-affirming, but not exclusive, so are we.
Just like historical black colleges and universities are black-affirming, but not exclusive, so are we affirming of race, ethnicity, and many other intersections of identity.
To me, separate but equal means being told it's ok to be in a public school but you must use the Principal's bathroom to pee, just because you are transgender and your private parts supposedly don't match those of your classmates. It means having Mother & Father on intake forms. It means having only 2 genders available on forms, and not being able to change them without thousands of $$$ of doctor visits and/or hormones.

Until every student in every school is safe and affirmed, private schools and charter schools and homeschooling will be needed. Do you realize that at least 13,000 students in many states alone use homeschooling Cyber academies because their schools don't work for them? We are creating another solution. For many, we are similar to a homeschool coop- but I know no one would look down on us for that, even if it was aimed at lgbtq youth alone.

I wish you the best.
Christian Zsilavetz, Director, christian@prideschoolatlanta.org

Evidence of why we are needed. And this is largely due to poor admin behavior. We have girls' schools to help girls learn better. Catholic schools, schools for kids w dyslexia, schools for vo-tech oriented youth. Why not a school where EVERYONE, including staff and students, gets to be authentic, esp. in terms of gender identity and expression and affectional preference or community identity?

Ahh, I wish the schools were different, but they are not. We hope to be out of a job in 20 yrs. We truly do.

Good evening! You talked to my mom on the phone earlier today and I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am to meet you tomorrow! I'm trying to find a new beginning and it's hard to do that when most of your family doesn't even talk to you anymore. I have absolutely no support from my biological father's side of the family and that takes a toll on me. I honestly love school. I love interacting with people. Unfortunately, I couldn't do that at my school. Administration, teachers and students would target me. They wouldn't let me use any bathroom in the entire school. To them, my genitals were more important than my education. I'd be so honored and humbled to be a part of your school. A place where people won't judge me for who I am just sounds like paradise. Tuition is going to be our main struggle since my mom is now unemployed. I've had to be put on double my antidepressants and Buspar 3 times a day. It's absolutely ridiculous. The amount of pure hatred at my old school is unreal. It even led me to a suicide attempt. Half of my family gave up on me. It seems like they're embarrassed by me. I didn't realize that being myself and making myself happy would, in turn, make everyone else unhappy and disappointed. I sat next to my mom while she was on the phone with you and I wish you could've seen my face when she told me everything you said. Theatre is my absolute passion and I can only imagine all the theatre groups in Atlanta. I could get away from this town where everyone knew me as a female. Thank you for taking time out of your day to talk to my mom. She is infinitely thankful for you and so am I. I hope you have a wonderful night!

Diana_CT said...

Thank you for setting the record straight and thank you for all that you do for the LGBT community.

The way that the article was written sounded like the only students were LGBT students, it is good that LGBT students have an integrated learning experience and are learning with non-LGBT students.