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William’s opposition to CHYA is even more shocking given that last week, OC Superintendent Al Mijares called a special meeting of all Department of Education staff to address an alarming survey about the health-related status of LGBT youth in Orange County. The data, analyzed by researchers at Chapman University in conjunction with the ACLU of Southern California, highlights the importance of increasing positive connections and protective factors as a way to create safe and inclusive environments for LGBT youth. According to the report, 5.4% of Orange County students identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual and 1% identify as transgender (more than 15,000 students). The report found that in one year in Orange County, approximately 45.8% to 49.2% middle school and high school LGBT youth, compared to 13.5% to 15.2% of non-LGBT youth, seriously considered suicide. According to one OCDE employee, the entire room listened in dead silence as the data was presented.
At a recent OCBE meeting, Williams suggested that the OC Department Education “not go by the letter of the law” but “redefine that letter of the law”. Williams, along with two other trustees, are using Department of Education funding to bring together a panel for a forum on CHYA but have refuses to publicize the name of the panelists until the day of the event. According to Laura Kanter from the LGBT Center OC, the Orange County Department of Education is having to work around Williams so that LGBT youth have the support they need. Kanter states that the OC Department of Education leadership and staff and School Board Trustees John Bedell and Becky Gomez do not support Dr. Williams’ forum and are concerned it will be result in further hurting the already marginalized LGBT community. Kanter sent in a public records request to find out who was on the secret panel, but Williams is refusing to cooperate with OC Department of Education counsel.
The CHYA opposition has brought a number of organizations, educators, faith leaders, and community members together under a banner of “Youth First OC”. They insist that the OC Board of Education forum on Sept. 26 will not provide education about CHYA but instead will provide a platform for anti-LGBT extremists pushing a political agenda that blatantly rejects the overwhelming evidence about what supports ALL students, including LGBT students.
In response, the LGBT Center OC along with Human Rights Campaign, Equality California, the Anti-Defamation League, CLUE OC, Moms Demand Action OC, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Orange and San Bernardino Counties, and many others will be holding a rally at the same time as the forum, in front of the OC Department of Education to demand accountability from the OC Board of Education trustees and urge that they implement CHYA immediately.
Read more: Health and Safety of LGBT Youth in Orange County
CONTACT: Laura Kanter, firstname.lastname@example.org, 714-953-5428 ext. 206
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