Anchorage students are officially back to school, for another year of learning, growing and reaching for their full potential. But if Proposition 1 passes in April, transgender students could face a very different reality when they head to class next fall.
Currently, Anchorage law protects LGBT people from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations, and that includes protecting transgender teachers and children from discrimination at school.
But if anti-LGBT extremists have their way and Proposition 1 passes next year, it would bring discrimination back to Anchorage, and even require schools to discriminate against transgender children.
Carol Comeau, former head superintendent of the Anchorage School District, says not only is this cruel—it’s against the mission of the Anchorage School District.
“The mission of the Anchorage School District is ‘To educate ALL students for success in life,’” she says, quoting the motto she’s had memorized for more than 30 years. “The ALL is in caps for a reason. Every student should be able to go to school to focus on learning, not being targeted for discrimination because of their gender identity.”
Carol had that motto in mind when, as superintendent, she successfully advocated in 2001 to add sexual orientation to the school’s harassment and nondiscrimination policy. But now, she worries the progress that’s been made since then will be rolled back, and students will suffer.
Local parent David Lockard worries too—because his son, Col, is transgender.
“The experience of a person who is transgender is authentic,” he says, pushing back against some of the misinformation about transgender people that’s being circulated by the backers of Proposition 1.
“Their experiences are real, just like the rest of us. And everybody needs respect.”
That’s why although it’s Col who has gone back to school this fall, it’s David who has taken on the role of teacher.
He knows his community is full of good people who really care about others, and is certain that once more people know that Proposition 1 would open his son up to discrimination and harassment, they will vote against it in April. That’s why he’s speaking out now.
If someone has doubts or questions, he says “talk to someone who is transgender, or someone like me who is the parent of a transgender child.”
Then, he says, go vote for fairness in April.
In the meantime, fair minded Anchorage residents dedicated to upholding non-discrimination protections for our transgender friends and neighbors can sign the Fair Anchorage pledge to vote against Prop 1 right now.