Today a small group of students at North Buncombe High School in Buncombe County, NC coordinated a protest that sent a negative message about transgender students and school guidelines on how to respect all students’ gender identity. The team at the Campaign for Southern Equality sends our love and support to North Buncombe High School’s transgender and non-binary students and their many allies and wants LGBTQ youth in our community to know that they are valued, they are equal, and they have a huge community of people supporting them.
Every young person in our community should have the chance to learn in a safe, respectful environment. No one should have to tolerate bullying or harassment in exactly the places where they should feel the safest and most affirmed – in school.
Educational institutions like Buncombe County Schools are right to develop strategies to support and affirm LGBTQ young people and to ensure they can fully participate in their school community. Buncombe County Schools’ guidelines provide necessary support to transgender students. The policy creates consistent approaches across the district about how to affirm students and to prevent mistreatment and bullying. That means using the pronouns and name that all students identify with, respecting students for showing up authentically, and underlining that a transgender student may not be required to use a facility that conflicts with the student’s gender identity consistently asserted at school. All of these guidelines work to foster a safe environment so that transgender students are treated fairly and with dignity and have every opportunity to thrive as part of a school community.
Every young person should have the chance to learn and thrive in a safe, respectful environment, and that includes transgender students. Educational institutions like Buncombe County Schools are right to develop strategies to support and affirm LGBTQ young people and to ensure they can fully participate in their school community.” – The Campaign for Southern Equality
All students have a First Amendment right to express their perspectives and to organize protests, and it’s important to protect these rights. At the same time, schools are places of learning and community, and we invite the students who organized this protest to consider the impact and potential harm of their words and actions on fellow students: What would it feel like to show up at school and be protested against?
In recent years we’ve seen that support for LGBTQ young people is growing here in Western NC and all across the South. Parents are advocating for their children, teachers and administrators are showing up to support their students, and young people are coming together to create the change they know is necessary.
We encourage everyone in our community to express support for transgender youth, to engage in respectful dialogue about these issues, and to work together to unify rather than divide as we work to ensure that every young person is supported and has every opportunity to thrive.
Please join us in sending a message of love and support to trans and non-binary students in Buncombe County. Use the form below and we’ll share with students in our network: