I attended the Iowa Safe Schools Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth yesterday. This was their tenth year, and with 1000 student and educator attendees, it’s the largest LGBT Youth Conference in the United States. A huge shout out to the board for continuing this event. It needs to continue.
My only concern is that it’s still not enough. The state is rural, and while many LGBTQ youth have someone they identify as supportive on the school’s staff, there are still kids too scared to talk to a staff member.
Or worse, when they talk to a staff member they think is supportive, they learn that the staff member is a closet bigot. Not all teachers are assholes, but not all of them are good people, either. I can say that based on experience as both a student and a teacher. There are teachers out there who should never interact with other people, especially not young, impressionable people. Hate is taught. If kids are taught to hate at home and at school, it’s even harder for them to change in the real world.
I don’t have answers. At one point, I thought an LGBTQ boarding school was the answer. If I won the lottery, I would build it, and all the LGBTQ kids would come.
All that does is segregate the rest of the world further from the diversity and beauty that LGBTQ people have to offer. Another bad idea: changing the teaching curriculum so that LGBTQ issues are part of licensing. This would make it so that LGBT-friendly teachers are picked up by public and inner-city schools, based on their scores, while the rural and private church schools will hire only those who refused to take the curriculum, or who had poor marks on that section of the licensing test. It would make it even less likely for a teacher like me to end up at a Catholic school.
Now, writing is my only skill that has a chance to change someone’s life. I write contemporary romance in a world I want to exist, not how it is. I write fantasy based on the world I want to go away forever, where religion is a front for evil.
I’m still trying to change the world one word at a time. I’m still looking for starfish.
Here’s hoping I made a difference for someone yesterday. I know each and every brave kid who stopped by our booth made a difference for me.