I’m an eighth grade student at a William S. Hart Union High School District middle school. I was one of more than 100 students in attendance at the informational hearing on the proposed parent notification policy (otherwise known as the “forced outing policy”) at the Nov. 15 board meeting. This policy could require teachers and school personnel to out LGBTQIA+ students to their parents.
At the meeting, there were people there who demeaned, insulted, accused and wished harm on the students in the crowd frequently. Speakers claimed that teenagers opposing the policy would not graduate, being gay or trans was a mental illness, most LGBTQ+ people kicked out of their homes were on drugs, and teens did not have legal rights.
After hearing attacks like this, many students opposing the measure — there were no students present in favor — were indignant, and expressed their hurt and anger loudly. There were multiple calls for quiet among us and many speakers accused us of disrespect after such attacks. But can you really blame kids for being defensive about lies meant to attack our intelligence, our rights, our safety – even who we are – throughout the event?
But while there was plenty of misinformation thrown our way, numbers don’t lie. And as I’m at the top of my class in math, I’d like to give you some numbers on public opinion — which is not “split in half,” as The Signal has claimed.
There were 400 to 450 attendees. Of those, at least 75% were there in opposition to the policy, identifiable by pride flags, stickers and attire. About 200 speaker cards were issued; of those, 84 people actually spoke when their cards were drawn.
Sixty-four speakers opposed the policy; 20 supported it. However, of the 20 in favor of the policy, at least 10, and probably closer to 15, did not actually live in the Hart district or the Santa Clarita Valley at all.
One hundred percent of LGBTQ+ student speakers spoke of harm from being outed for themselves or for friends. A petition opposing the policy has garnered over 3,900 signatures, at least 2,000 of which are local SCV residents, a booming echo of those who spoke in opposition.
I have spoken to at least five students at my school who have stated that while they do not necessarily agree with LGBTQ+ people in general, they find that this policy would only open pathways for abuse of gay or trans children.
The numbers don’t lie and public opinion is NOT divided evenly, and it seems obvious that people outside the district shouldn’t have nearly as much influence as those who live here and whom this policy will affect. Young people fighting for their ability to exist safely is not less important than adults from outside our community claiming that we don’t have the maturity to know who we are attracted to or how we feel — at the very age that attraction and hormones are kicking into overdrive.
Please don’t tell us that we’re being too loud when our friends and our classmates’ lives may depend on this decision.