A powerful way to support our LGBTQ students is through our local school boards, which are critical to creating and maintaining safe schools. There are almost 300 school districts in Washington, impacting the lives of LGBTQ students in virtually every town and city of our state. In fact, opponents of LGBTQ equality have long encouraged people who share their view to run for school boards because their crucial role in shaping policies.
Rather than concede this sphere of influence, we can instead be empowered by it. This page can get you started. For a comprehensive resource, also consult the ACLU document Parents’ Guide to School Board Advocacy in Washington.
Run For School Board
LGBTQ advocates might consider running for school board where, if elected, you would have the opportunity to positively affect policies on safe schools, equity, inclusive curriculum, and other issues important to the well-being of LGBTQ and other students.
Influence Your School Board
We can be the most effective voice of change in our school boards when we follow their procedures and remain an active and constant presence in their decision-making process. Here are some guidelines:
- Get to know your school board. Attend a few school board meetings to observe, listen, and learn before you actively participate. Becoming familiar with board procedures and members might increase your comfort level and confidence.
- Speak out to your school board. Members of the public can address their school board at monthly meetings—typically with a three-minute time limit—or you can submit written comments or send email or letters. (See the next section “Eastside District School Board Policies for Public Comments”).
- Reach out to your school board. School board members usually respond to calls and emails and most will meet with district residents. Our outreach can put a face on key school issues, from transgender bathroom access to curriculum for LGBTQ students. For letters and emails, the ACLU recommends that you first identify yourself as a parent or family of a child in the school district, focus on a single issue, include three strong points to support your position, and and explain how the issue personally impacts you and your family.
- Stay on top of the election cycle. Board members serve two-year terms and incumbents become particularly aware of opponent candidates during election years. As advocates and a potential voting block, it is a key time to step up our advocacy.
- Find out the positions of board member candidates on safe schools. Ask school board member candidates about issues related to bullying, inclusive curriculum, support for GSAs and protections for LGBTQ students, including transgender youth. Local candidate forums provide an opportunity to learn more and make direct inquiries.
Eastside School Board Policies for Public Comments
Click the school district to go its policy page. Once there, you might also explore the rest of the school board website for more details.
School Boards and I-1552
An urgent issue facing the LGBTQ community is the current petition drive to put initiative I-1552 on the ballot for the upcoming November election. If you are not familiar with this initiative, consult No on I-1552. We encourage our members to engage their school board members with this issue and ask them the following questions:
- Are you aware of the proposed initiative?
- Do you know the impact on school district budget? And do you know that if the initiative is passed, the school board’s fiscal responsibility for any reported incident has a four year statute of limitations?
- Have you had an opportunity to take a position on I-1552 yet?
- Are you fully aware of how this initiative could harm our students? That it could increase self-harm, bullying, undermine peer relationships via its “bounty’ provision”, reduce academic performance and result in higher drop-out rates?
- Who is the Title IX officer for the district? (The Title IX officer handles harassment and bullying issues.)
For additional ways to oppose I-1552, consult Take Action.