This Pride, we are celebrating the contributions and resilience of LGBTQIA+ Nebraskans. At the ACLU of Nebraska, we work every day for a future where expressing your authentic self doesn’t have to be an act of courage. One way we get there is through inclusive and comprehensive health education.
The Nebraska Board of Education is considering proposed health standards that would equip schools with the information they need to develop an age-appropriate, scientifically accurate and inclusive health curriculum.
Why do we need these standards? Just ask LGBTQIA+ students and their families.
We recently helped a family that was struggling to prevent a school from deadnaming their child. Deadnaming is the use of the birth or former name of a transgender or non-binary person without their consent, effectively dismissing or rejecting their gender identity.
The student’s school was insisting on using the deadname in the yearbook. They presented the family with two options: publish only the deadname or publish the deadname with the preferred and true name in parentheses. With neither of these options being acceptable, the family called the ACLU of Nebraska for help.
After rapid response from our LGBTQIA+ rights attorney and a letter to the school detailing their denial of rights to the student, the school quickly changed course.
It shouldn’t take a letter from the ACLU to ensure a supportive environment. That’s why the family supports the new health education standards.
“As a mother of a trans daughter, the debate over the proposed health education standards saddens me for the future of our children and our state,” said the mother. “If we forbid students from learning about different Nebraskans and their families, it’s not as if gay and trans students and their parents will cease to exist. We are simply erasing them from our communities and making them targets of bullying and ridicule. My daughter is teased frequently, and I firmly believe that a more comprehensive health education curriculum for her and her fellow classmates would help tremendously.”
We agree. All students have the right to be themselves. Politicization of who our students are only draws attention away from what Nebraska leaders, educators and parents should be focused on: ensuring students have the education they need to thrive.
Ready to get involved? Be an advocate for effective health education in Nebraska.