Seneca’s Tool Kit for Individual Advocacy
Seneca is currently conducting local advocacy to ensure LGBTQ+ youth have explicit protections in parental notification policies. You too can take action against these policies and attend your local district school board meeting. Here are some steps you can take to prepare:
- Find your district school board webpage (this is usually on the school district’s website).
- Find out when and where the next meeting is.
- Review the agenda. Agendas are usually posted a few days before the scheduled meeting. Look to see if there is an agenda item on “parental notification;” it will inform how you provide your public comment!
- Review the parental notification policy if it is on the agenda and check to see if it has explicit protections for LGBTQ+ students.
- Find out the school board’s process for public comment. This may be posted on the webpage or described in the agenda. School boards can have different processes for providing public comment on agenda and non-agenda items.
- Practice what you are going to say and time yourself. Public comments are usually limited to 1-3 minutes and vary from district to district – be sure to check the agenda!
Here are some general guidelines for a successful public comment:
- Greet the board
- Introduce yourself; provide your name and community status in relation to the school board (parent, professional, etc.)
- State what you are there to discuss
- Share why this issue is important to you and the implications the policy can have
- Thank the board for their time
Here is an example of what you can say during your public comment:
“Good evening, Board Members, and thank you for taking my public comment. My name is _____, and I am a ___ (parent/professional/etc.) in the _____ school district. I am here to urge you to not adopt a parental notification policy unless it includes specific protections for LGBTQ+ students.
In the last few months, several California school districts have passed parental notification policies that will potentially out transgender students and students exploring their gender identity to their parents or caregivers without their permission or consent.
It has recently been argued that since Gender Dysphoria is a diagnosis in the DSM-5, it relates to a student’s mental well-being and can, therefore, be disclosed to parents and guardians under parental notification policies. I am here to say that policies like this can threaten the safety of LGBTQ+ youth.
Studies have shown that transgender youth are more likely to be abused by their immediate family and are at high risk of experiencing family rejection. In fact, transgender youth have been overrepresented in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems and are more likely to experience homelessness. Studies have also shown that when schools lack explicit policies that protect the LGBTQ+ community, transgender and gender-diverse students experience higher rates of victimization, and LGBTQ+ students report higher rates of verbal harassment.
It is important to ensure the safety of all students, especially students in the LGBTQ+ community. This can be done by providing students with the resources, skills, and support they need to safely disclose their gender identity, gender expression, and/or sexual orientation.
Again, I urge you not to adopt a parental notification that can threaten the well-being of students, especially students in the LGBTQ+ community.
Thank you for your time.”