In April, Arizona repealed the decades-long ban on LGBTQ-inclusive education with bipartisan support. Now students and educators across the state are headed back to school and school districts must decide if they will update their curriculum to ensure all students’ identities and experiences are represented.
The Tucson Unified School District has been considering updating its sex education curriculum for the past few weeks. The updated curriculum includes medically accurate, age-appropriate and LGBTQ-inclusive lessons. The district has held two widely attended forums for the community to discuss the ways in which these updates would affect students. On Tuesday, September 10, the TUSD Board will meet to vote on the curriculum — this is the final opportunity for the community to speak out and show their support for LGBTQ youth before a decision is made.
HRC volunteer and member of HRC Foundation’s Parents for Transgender Equality National Council Lizette Trujillo is leading the charge for LGBTQ-inclusive education within TUSD and attended both forums.
HRC sat down with Trujillo to discuss her perspective.
What motivates you to volunteer for HRC and advocate for LGBTQ youth?
As a mother of a transgender child, it is my responsibility to push for change because my son deserves to have every opportunity afforded him regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. As his mother, it is my responsibility to show other parents that they are not alone, and that affirming their children does not have to be an experience filled with fear and worry, rather a journey of growth, discovery and joy.
How were the forums you attended? As a parent of an LGBTQ student, why is this introduced curriculum for TUSD especially impactful?
Unfortunately, these forums became unsafe for our LGBTQ children and loved ones. The bias and false statements were difficult to listen to and had nothing to do with the curriculum itself. As a parent collective, we felt that it was time we stood up for our children and decided to stage a peaceful walk out. We felt that if we continued to participate in this debate we were allowing for the further discrimination of our kids.
The joy, pride and excitement on our children’s faces and that of our community after the walk out of more than 100 community members meant so much to us. This walk out was a showing of solidarity, empowerment and a statement that we are done debating whether LGBTQ persons exist. They do exist! We are moving the conversation forward, and in doing so ensuring the safety of the people we love so much.
Visibility and inclusion in the classroom through this curriculum will reduce bullying and violence against LGBTQ students. It will make school a safer place, and teach their peers what it means to be an ally.
Why is it so critical for the Tucson community to come out to support LGBTQ youth again on Tuesday, September 10?
It is so important for Tucson community members to show up because all students deserve access to age appropriate, comprehensive, medically accurate and inclusive sex education.
As a parent, I am deeply appreciative of the hard work put into creating this inclusive sex education curriculum. I am grateful to the board for taking the time to listen to our concerns, as well as our praises. Should this curriculum pass, we would create a school environment where safety, consent, inclusion and diversity are respected as the norm. It would create an important and necessary shift in ensuring that this next generation be one that is truly as diverse, inclusive and kind as we once hoped our generation would be.
The TUSD Board votes to pass the inclusive sex-education curriculum on Tuesday, September 10. Sign up to join HRC volunteers and make sure TUSD validates all students identities and prepares them for health and success.