CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — One school district made a strong statement through an event Thursday night.
Through an LGBTQ, geared toward elementary school students and families, school leaders showed people it’s okay to be yourself…and your school will support you.
The school district did this because they say the earlier kids learn these concepts, the better.
Some parents spoke out against this event, saying these kids are too young to know how they feel, or to be introduced to these ideas. But organizers of this social say that’s far from the truth, and teaching these kids and families now makes all the difference.
“Increasingly, we’re seeing more transgender, queer, and gender non-conforming children in elementary schools, so there need to be more resources and services attending to those kids and their needs,” said Jane Reid.
Reid knows this because her son is transgender. That’s why she embraced this opportunity to tell other parents to embrace their children’s thoughts and ideas.
She says even in elementary school, it’s not too soon.
“I don’t think anybody really doubts the ability of children to know their genders, unless those genders diverge from what the adults expect them to be,” said Reid.
Students, parents, and staff were quizzed on LGBTQ vocabulary, so they know the words to describe what they, or their classmates feel…especially when they’re struggling to find their voice.
“We really can’t force them to be something that they’re not, but just allow them to be who they are freely without any backlash…To be made to feel some type of way about who they are,” said Mark Butler.
Butler was at the event as the Jefferson Middle School Dean of Students, but also as an ally.
“Kids are killing themselves,” said Butler. “They are being bullied. They are just getting a lot of heat for who they are.”
“Even one supportive adult in the life of an LGBTQ kid can reduce the risk of suicide by 40%,” said Reid.
No matter how you feel, or what you believe, Butler says the main idea of this social was simple…”for the parents to know that it’s okay. It is okay to be yourself.”
This was the second year the Champaign School District had this event. It comes on the heels of the new law that requires LGBTQ history be taught in all Illinois public schools.