School Superintendent Vincent Matthews: Proudly supporting our LGBTQ youth

SFUSD gets a head start on SF’s Pride celebrations

Though our city lights up in June with Pride events, our schools get a head start.

Aligned with our mission of providing each and every student the quality instruction and equitable support required to thrive in the 21st century, SFUSD celebrates the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) members of our community with special events and lessons throughout the month of April.

We kicked off this month with the 6th Annual High School GSA Day, an event titled “Stonewall – The Next 50 Years of Resistance.” Over 130 students from 17 schools participated. The day was planned in partnership with the Queer and Trans Advisory Council (QTAC), a group of seven high school youth leaders from across the district.

If you walk through our school hallways or visit classrooms you will likely see pride being celebrated. Bulletin board materials and curricula that promote understanding and recognize the historical achievements of the LGBTQ community are shared throughout.

Our schools continuously seek to improve school climate and promote respect for all members of our school communities.

There are many ways schools celebrate inclusion and pride. For instance, Lakeshore Elementary students donned rainbow colors and stood in the form of a rainbow in their school yard. They document this beautiful symbolic sight with an aerial photo.

California law includes mandates that support LGBTQ students and ensure schools are safe and inclusive learning environments. Our own district not only affirms but reinforces those rights. In fact, we get asked all the time to share our activities, policies and lessons. I am proud that SFUSD policies and practices around inclusion and support for LGBTQ students and their families have served as a model for school districts throughout the country.

We welcome the entire student, which includes race, class, culture, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and ability, all of which adds to the rich diversity of our school communities. We strive to ensure that schools create learning environments where every student is safe and welcomed and free from discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

We are fortunate to have a school board, district leaders, educators, as well as city and state legislators, that affirm the dignity and basic rights of students to self-determine their gender identity without fear of reprisal or discrimination.

We are committed to continuing our efforts to create supportive learning environments where every student is safe, healthy, and ready to learn. We encourage districts throughout the United States to do the same.

To learn more about our LGBTQ support services visit https://www.healthiersf.org/LGBTQ/

Vincent Matthews is superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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