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One of the areas of recommendation issued by the task force is to support students and student groups by ensuring access to adult advocates in every school.

The first recommendation is to identify and support LGBTQ-specific adult advocates in each school. The task force says, “each building should have a designated safe adult to contact if LGBTQIA+ issues come up.”

Another quote from the report, “we need visible advocates for LGBTQ students and their families. Hire LGBTQ+ advocates.”

The report also addresses students going through gender transition, noting those students have particular health needs.

“School staff should be educated on meeting those needs and managing medications related to gender transitions,” it says. “If a student is transitioning and taking hormones, the nurses should know how to handle it and what to do.”

The report calls on LGBTQ students having access to “specialized supports and mental health resources.”

Finally, the report wants to see an LGBTQ student ambassador in each school who would advocate for the interests of LGBTQ students and act as a resource for peers.

One big portion of this recommendation includes the formation of gay-straight alliance groups (GSAs). The report noted that 100 percent of high schools and junior high schools in ICCSD have GSA groups. No elementary school had one at the time of the report.

The task force highlights three specific ways ICCSD could further support GSAs.

“Improve GSA programming, increase district funding for GSA activities and encouraging the development of GSAs in district elementary schools.”

Funding for the GSA groups would help students attend the annual Iowa Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth hosted by GLBT Youth In Iowa Schools Tack Force (Iowa Safe Schools). That conference was once investigated by the Iowa House.

“GSAs should be supported, financially and through promotional materials, because they are an important resource for students,” the report says.

The task force unanimously agreed that LGBTQ student groups cannot meet their full potential without adequate funding from the district, which it says may need to be supplemented by building level funds.

“Increased district funding of GSAs is one of the clearest ways that the district could support the GSAs in achieving their goals and supporting LGBTQ students,” the report says.

Establishing GSAs in the elementary schools is needed, according to the task force, to support younger LGBTQ students. It would also increase the inclusivity of the school climate through GSA programming. The group is concerned because, according to a recent national student of elementary teachers and students, almost 50 percent of students and teachers reported hearing comments like “that’s so gay” or “you’re so gay.”

This section of the report also noted the needs of LGBTQ students of color.

“I miss hearing kids of double vulnerability (African American and gay or lesbian) they have different perspective (sic) from GBLTQ who are from the white majority. They suffer more harassment, achievement gap and suicide tendency.”

In all, the report lists 16 different national awareness campaigns, including pansexual awareness day.

The task force identified a number of current practices in school that limited the visibility of GSAs and pointed to substantial differences in social recognition that certain student groups and sports teams receive.

It called for inclusion in all school materials and events, and celebration of LGBTQ student achievements.

“Equitable visibility at all schools should be a priority,” the report says. “More support and visibility for GSAs — both monetary and moral support.”

It also encouraged students building connections with the larger community LGBTQ groups.

Jacob Hall

Author: Jacob Hall