Olympia School District Board of Directors president Maria Flores challenged the city’s schools to commit to maintaining safe, healthy and welcoming environments for all members of the community, including LGBTQ+ students.
During the OSD regular board meeting on Thursday, May 12, Flores signed a proclamation designating June 2022 as Pride Month.
“The proclamation is [just] words. The thing that matters is the way that we implement this,” Flores said.
“I have many people in my life who are in the community. It is difficult to be right now in a where the world seems like they hate you sometimes. There is a level of self-harm and suicidal ideation that some folks feel just because the community is saying negative things,” Flores said, adding “we have to surround our students, families and our educators with love, acceptance and understanding.”
According to Flores, the district recognized the continued struggle for equal rights of those in the LGBTQ+ community, but they are committed to expanding partnerships, policy reviews and updates, and opportunities to exercise learning courage toward gender-inclusive schools.
LGBTQ+ students report higher rates of being bullied or harassed at school resulting in higher rates of dropout, academic failure and disengagement, the proclamation stated.
The proclamation also stated that OSD sees “bullying or harassment that targets a student based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression as discriminatory harassment.”
Flores said the OSD affirmed that supportive school environments improve the mental health and school engagement of LGBTQ+ students.
The Olympia community has been honoring and celebrating Capital City Pride since 1991, according to the proclamation.
Flores said the students encouraged the students to exercise their rights to engage in conversations in school communities on issues of social justice, equity, and the intersectionality of oppression and discrimination.
“By recognizing Pride Month we reaffirm our commitment to a supportive environment that promotes trust, growth, and achievement for all students,” stated in the proclamation signed by Flores and OSD Superintendent Patrick Murphy.
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