My first exposure to transphobia occurred several years ago while waiting to board a flight at DFW Airport.
A family of four, including two teenagers, were sitting across from me at the gate. Their attention soon focused on a traveler dressed in clothing more likely to be worn by a person of an opposite gender.
With the encouragement of both parents, the teenagers followed this person through the terminal, jeering and laughing all the way. Mom and dad laughed as their children returned and relayed the story of their hateful adventure.
That was the day I became an ally. I promised myself that I’d never again sit quietly in witness to hate and discrimination. Those we may not understand still deserve respect. They have the right to be respected at work, at school, and in public places.
In matters related to the LGBTQ community, these two values within SUSD’s Mission, Vision, and Values Statement are of critical importance:
“Inclusion: We create an equitable environment where everyone is respected, is treated with dignity, and has a sense of belonging.”
“Empathy: We welcome all with kindness, love, compassion, and joy.”
These values are at the heart of public education, from which we should never waiver.
We have already experienced the consequences of electing state lawmakers who do not even pretend to empathize or respect members of the LGBTQ community. Imagine the harm that could be done to our public schools by a State Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate who publicly shames and harasses a gender non-conforming teacher before an investigation into the allegations of “gender indoctrination” is complete.
We should also be very mindful of the consequences that may result in electing candidates who wish to serve on school boards whose values do not align with the district’s.
This November, I’ll be voting for candidates, from the bottom of the ballot up, who share my vision for a kinder, more inclusive, and equitable Arizona. I hope you’ll do the same. Not only will you be serving as an ally to the LGBTQ community, you’ll be voting as a public education ally.
Editor’s Note: Mary Gaudio is a Paradise Valley resident. She is seeking candidacy to be on the Nov. 8 ballot for Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board.
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