Mansfield ISD: protection for all!
At the Mansfield ISD school boarding meeting on June 26, 2018, former MHS student and Galileo co-conspirator Lydia Pape gave this talk during the public comments.
Good evening. My name is Lydia Pape. My pronouns are she, her, and hers. I was a student in MISD from the 6th grade until I graduated from Mansfield High School just over a year ago, and I am speaking in support of adding the terms “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” and “gender expression” to MISD’s anti-discrimination and anti-bullying policies for employees and students.
I joined Mansfield High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance when it was founded just a few years ago, because I thought it was important to be involved in standing up for the rights of LGBTQ+ people; but I soon became a little overwhelmed at how many people started showing up at the GSA’s meetings. We mostly relied on messages sent to our phones to know when and where those meetings would take place. The GSA leaders also put up posters announcing meetings in the halls of MHS, but these were very often torn down and thrown away almost immediately.
One time some of the GSA’s leaders fished crumpled up posters out of the trash and put them up in a secure display case so they couldn’t be torn down again. When I saw this I remember thinking simply that it was pretty cool to be part of a group that fights the status quo. But that is because I was very privileged. As someone who did not obviously fall in the LGBTQ+ realm, I did not understand what it meant that my fellow GSA members had to fight the status quo every day, just to exist as themselves. I did not understand that these people, just like the GSA itself, were constantly under attack.
When I first came to MISD eight years ago I didn’t even know what sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression were. I have since learned the meaning of these terms and many others, and I have learned that people can take many forms other than the two we so often try to assign them, and I have learned that love can mean so many things other than the one narrow definition we as a society have stuck to for so long.
But I did not learn these things in school. I was lucky and privileged enough to learn all of this from my family, and from my church family; thanks be to God. Meanwhile all school has taught me is that LGBTQ+ issues are political matters and thus something we’re not even allowed to talk about in our primary learning environment.
My point here is, not everyone has a family or a church family who will affirm their identity and that of all their loved ones. Not everyone is told growing up that they can use the pronouns that feel right to them, or that they can marry whomever they fall in love with, without it having to be a political statement, or a secret, or a sin. Such fundamental affirmations ought to be common knowledge. They ought to be things kids learn in school, if nowhere else. Just as much as black and brown students need to learn that their rights, their personhood, and their lives matter just as much as the rights, personhood, and lives of white students, LGBTQ+ students, and those who think they might fall somewhere in the LGBTQ+ realm, need to learn the same. We need to be teaching everyone that it is okay to be the way you are, and that you do not have to change yourself, or keep yourself a secret, for it to be okay.
Thank you for your time.