Does AISD’s #NoPlaceForHate Have Limits?

Does AISD’s #NoPlaceForHate Have Limits?

I just spent the weekend filled with the wonderful energy from Austin Pride’s 2018 Pride Weekend. My daughter and I marched along with hundreds of other AISD students, parents and faculty behind an AISD marching band, all of us waving AISD Pride Flags and celebrating AISD’s commitment to make Austin schools a safe, #NoPlaceForHate environment for LGBTQ students, families and staff.

Even Superintendent Cruz retweeted my message thanking AISD for supporting and protecting LGBTQ students. (Which may or may not mean that he didn’t realize that I’m the one that wrote this letter of frustration over AISD’s delay in rolling out new comprehensive human sexuality curriculum that is inclusive of LGBTQ students’ needs.)

But then today, I saw this article from the Austin Chronicle in my news feed.

The main point: “The Austin Independent School District will begin renting its Performing Arts Cen­ter this month to a church with explicitly anti-LGBTQ views.”

The church in question is the Celebration Church, which has such detailed beliefs on marriage and sexuality that they had to dedicate an entire separate document to list them vs just posting them in the beliefs section of their website.

So, here are my questions for AISD:

1. Does your #NoPlaceForHate policy for schools and AISD facilities only apply to weekdays or do weekends count too? Despite the final paragraph of the Celebration Church’s Marriage and Sexuality Rules, everything highlighted in yellow is completely against AISD’s #NoPlaceForHate policy.

2. I realize that there are public space and freedom of speech arguments to be made, but my understanding of AISD’s policy is that “use of school facilities shall not be allowed when such use would be detrimental to the goals and objectives of the District as identified in District policy….”

In reviewing the values outlined in the AISD Strategic Plan, it seems that Celebration Church’s values are detrimental to the objectives AISD has outlined in their 5-year plan.  (Full plan can be viewed here.)

3. Celebration Church’s own Marriage and Sexuality rules explicitly state that: “it is imperative that all persons employed by the church in any capacity, or who serve as volunteers, as well as anyone who commits to the membership/partnership agreement of the church should abide by and agree to this Policy on Marriage and Sexuality and conduct themselves accordingly.”

By entering an agreement with this church either 1) AISD agrees to abide and agree to this Policy on Marriage and sexuality, or 2) Celebration Church is compromising their own beliefs to enter a partnership with an organization which has publicly committed to support (and who has even marched to support) LGBTQ students, families and staff.

4. Are the values of the other churches that rent space from AISD in line with AISD’s goals and objectives?

I’m hopeful that AISD leadership will adhere to the same values that they expect out of their students and reevaluate this partnership with a church that would be sent to the principal’s office for being a bully if they went to one of their schools.

Please, AISD, show us that your commitment to your LGBTQ students isn’t just limited to some parade flags.

Parents, allies and Austin neighbors – please let AISD know that you believe that the beliefs of the groups they partner with should be aligned with the beliefs of AISD.

Contact:

Dr. Cruz: superintendent@austinisd.org

Board of Trustees: trustees@austinisd.org

Social & Emotional Learning: Dr. Goodnow: lisa.goodnow@austinisd.org

School Health Advisory Council: tracy.spinner@austinisd.org & viviansballard@gmail.com

Director of Academics: kathy.ryan@austinisd.org

 

Your Story Is Important – Let’s Share It.

Your Story Is Important – Let’s Share It.

I’m a big believer in using information to help transform fear into understanding.

And when it comes down to it, every person who is fighting against inclusion policies for LGBTQ students in Austin schools is basing their arguments on fear.

  • Fear based in their own ignorance about what it means to be LGBTQ.
  • Fear from the misconception that LGBTQ rights and equality will somehow cause their children to become LGBTQ.
  • Fear that they can’t explain LGBTQ topics to their kids without getting into nitty-gritty sex details. (FYI – My children have been to many hetero-weddings where we never had to have a discussion about the sex lives of the couple getting married.)

We have the opportunity to raise a generation of kids who will never even think twice about whether their LGBTQ friends are “normal” or “different” simply because they’ve never been taught to see them differently.

That’s why it’s more important than ever that schools embrace LGBTQ inclusion policies and that we help inform the parents who are fighting these policies so they can get past their fears and begin to understand.

One of the best ways to help people understand is through personal stories, and I’m hopeful that you will be willing to share your story here so we can begin to build that bridge from fear to understanding.

  • The story of how the love an acceptance of someone in your life helped you embrace being LGBTQ.
  • The story of how living in an unwelcoming environment meant you had to hide your true self.
  • The story of how inclusive policies at your school impacted your self-esteem and ability to succeed.
  • The story of how an unwelcoming school affected your self-esteem and ability to succeed.
  • The story of growing up with an LGBTQ parent(s).
  • The story of having a friend, relative or teacher who is LGBTQ.
  • The story of how your school’s sex-ed curriculum either included or excluded topics that addressed your questions and needs.
  • The story of meeting your first crush, true love, partner or spouse.

It can be short or long. Funny or serious. Young or old. Every story is important. YOUR story is important and I would be honored to help you share it here. You can do it completely anonymously or un-anonymously (I know that’s not a word.)  🙂 Just be sure to let me know your preference.  Also please note if you are in the Austin Independent School District and would be willing to let me read excerpts from your story at school board meetings, etc.

Email your story to informedparentsofaustin@gmail.com.

I look forward to hearing from you and look forward to building understanding in our community.

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