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Show Up for LGBTQ+ Students on March 5

Dear Center Community,

As I’m sure you’re aware, California will vote in the presidential primary on Tuesday, determining which candidates will face off in the general election this November. But as important as those votes are, I’m writing to you today to stress the importance of your participation in all the races on the ballot.

Last month Nex Benedict (he/they), a 16-year-old trans high schooler in Oklahoma, died following a physical altercation with three older students in a school bathroom. Nex had been experiencing bullying at school due to his gender identity, but he never reported it because he didn’t believe the school would take action to protect him. After the fight, instead of providing support to the victim and reporting the incident to the police, school officials gave Nex a two-week suspension and sent him home. He died the next day.

School districts in Oklahoma, like in many other states across the country, have recently devolved into battlegrounds for anti-LGBTQ+ culture wars organized by far-right extremists. The state’s superintendent of public instruction has made a pattern of using his position to institute policies that endanger trans and LGBTQ+ students like Benedict. He’s banned textbooks that include LGBTQ+ history, forced teachers to out trans and nonbinary students to their parents, and amplified right-wing agitators who target supportive and LGBTQ-affirming school officials.

This tactic of politicizing public schools at the expense of LGBTQ+ student safety is one that the far-right is weaponizing to infiltrate school districts all over the U.S.—including right here in our Golden State.

On Tuesday, residents in Glendale (less than eight miles from our Hollywood campus), will cast their votes to fill two open seats on the Glendale Unified School District’s Board of Education. This matters because the Board’s fiduciary responsibilities determine school curriculum and safety for 40 GUSD campuses. It’s on us to show them: anti-LGBTQ+ hate has no place in our schools.

The Center will be knocking on doors in Glendale in the remaining days leading up to the election to encourage voters to turn out on March 5. Pride Hall, right here at the Center’s Anita May Rosenstein Campus in Hollywood, is a voting location from 7AM-8PM. But whether you choose to vote in-person or by mail, be sure to get your ballots in by the March 5 deadline to make your voice heard.

I know that when I cast my ballot, I’ll be thinking about Nex and all he had to face for simply being himself at school. I hope you’ll join me in reaffirming our commitment to a future where every student, regardless of their identity, can receive an education in peace and with pride.

You can sign up to join one of our canvassing events here, and learn more about other ways to get involved here.

Joe Hollendoner

In Solidarity,

Joe Hollendoner
Chief Executive Officer

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