One person’s determination has led to a local school district pledging to stand up for LGBTQ staff and student rights.
The San Jose Unified School District unanimously passed a pride resolution yesterday supporting the freedoms and equality of LGBTQ people due to the persistent efforts of Eli Dinh, a parent and former SJUSD teacher. The school board condemned homophobia and transphobia, and members said they will ensure laws are upheld so students, staff and community members feel safe and welcome.
“I absolutely think I have brought attention to the issue,” Dinh said. “I have personally connected with so many people around it and hopefully showed … I’m not the only person who wants the bar raised.”
The school district added it would regularly assess and strengthen school climate, implement consistent nondiscrimination, anti-bullying and harassment policies, verify that curriculum is inclusive and make sure professional development and community resources are available.
Board President José Magaña said this resolution means there will be tangible changes to the school’s LGBTQ school community policies.
“This is a big moment for us,” he said. “I’m really excited and proud for us to get this passed. This is just the beginning of the hard work that’s in front of us.”
Dinh told San José Spotlight the pride resolution is a call to action for the administration. They brought attention to the issue by penning a petition and organizing a rally in the spring to fight for LGBTQ student rights. Dinh said the resolution validates the district has a problem in the way schools address LGBTQ rights.
“It is very inconsistent and on the whim of administrators,” Dinh said. “I hope it will stop administrators saying they don’t know what to do, how to do it, or have time to do.”
Dinh said although the resolution has teeth and gives administration directives upholding LGBTQ rights, it lacks a timeline to hold administrators accountable. Dinh also repeated the request to the board for an LGBTQ Advisory Committee to be formed.
“We need to have more avenues to empower LGBTQ members of the community,” he said, “so their voices can be heard.”
Trustee Carla Collins called the issue urgent and said the resolution should be implemented during the current school year.
Dinh said a standalone LGBTQ policy created by the district is overdue. Currently, LGBTQ rights are a subsection of a nondiscrimination policy. The board also unanimously approved a nondiscrimination harassment amendment toward LGBTQ students and staff at the meeting.
“Updates to the policy say the district has to start collecting data on discrimination and harassment incidents,” Dinh said. “That policy needs a ton of revision and is not up to code. I want to make sure the board is aware that there are still pieces that need further review.”
Seth Reddy, SJUSD chief business officer, said the school district needs to take a look at trans policy, approve the updates and create administrative regulation.
Jorge Pacheco, Jr., an Oak Grove School District trustee, thanked the trustees for expanding the rights of LGBTQ students and staff.
“I personally understand how important it is to have our school district stand up and fight for our LGBTQ students and staff who are under attack at every level of government in this country,” they said. “Actions like the one you’re going to take today save lives. They help people like me feel safe and included in a world that begs to differ.”
Parent Jeffie Khalsa said although the school board passed a Black Lives Matter resolution three years ago, not much has changed.
“It makes me feel concern that a seemingly meaningful resolution is getting passed right now, but what if things aren’t any better for queer kids three years from now?” she told the district board. “I hope you’re going to follow up with actions you each can take to make sure this really changes lives.”
Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected].