The Austin Chronicle

Qmmunity: Back to School and Bassackwardlandia

State Board of Education excludes queer and trans kids in sex ed overhaul

By Beth Sullivan, September 11, 2020, Columns

From textbook wars to debates on slavery's role in the Civil War, the State Board of Education has always occupied a special place in right-wing Bassackwardlandia. That needle may shift, however, come this November, when the SBOE is expected to take the final vote on its overhaul of statewide standards for teaching sex education and health in public schools, the first in more than 20 years. As I write this, the 15-member GOP-dominated SBOE is hearing testimony on revisions recommending students learn "abstinence-plus" (versus "abstinence-only") at younger ages. Teaching kids more comprehensive sex education is a win – I won't argue with that. But to entirely leave out standards for learning about sexuality and gender identity and expression is not only shortsighted, it's dangerous. According to a national survey by the Trevor Project, 40% of LGBTQIA youth age 14-23 have considered suicide in the last year – with more than half of trans and nonbinary youth considering suicide. Other studies have shown that queer and trans youth who died by suicide were more likely to mention bullying than their non-LGBTQIA peers, with queer and trans children age 10-13 being the most at risk. As Out Youth's Heather Frederick pointed out in an earlier hearing, LGBTQIA-inclusive curriculum and resources are linked with less bullying. To echo SBOE Dem Ruben Cortez: If creating an explicitly queer- and trans-inclusive learning experience means just one life can be saved, then how can leaving out sexuality and gender identity and expression be worth it? LGBTQIA advocates turned out at Tuesday's hearing, and the SBOE is expected to take a preliminary vote on this Friday, Sept. 11. Stay tuned for more in next week's issue.

2 to Do

Queer Riot Fest QRF is bringing you queer bands, queer art, and a queer market all month long, featuring Fea, Dog Park Dissidents, Juno Black, and special guest DJ Chuy Politron. This year's proceeds benefit Kind Clinic. Through Sept. 29. Online. $5-10.

A Night of Fetish, Fantasy & Fairy Tales Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo, bbs. The Prince and the Pupper – aka Imperial Crown Prince Evan Inell and Grand Duke Pup Sora of United Court – present pre-recorded performances exploring the freakier side of fairy tales. Sun., Sept. 13, 6-7pm. FB Live.

Q'd Up

HackOut Networking for qmmunity entrepreneurs. Thu.-Sun., Sept. 10-13. Online. Free.

Prismatic Taiwan Taiwanese queer cinema virtual retrospective. Through Sept. 13. $3.99+.

Gender Unbound Celebrating trans and intersex artists. Through Sept. 30. Free.

OUTsider 2021 Get yer submissions in by Oct. 1.

Class Transitions Strength training with Rocky Lane. Thursdays, 6pm. Online. Price varies.

BookWoman Open Mic An evening of virtual poetry. Thu., Sept. 10, 7:15-9pm. Online.

Connecting to Kindness Reconnect through mediation. Sun., Sept. 13, 3-5pm. Online.

Trans Feminisms Reading Donna Ostrowsky's "The Queer Experiment." Tue., Sept. 15, 6:30-8pm. Online.

GOTV Phone Bank for Equality In the name of achieving LGBTQIA equality at the polls this November! Wednesdays, 5:30-7:30pm.

Copyright © 2022 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.