Join 231 Howard County Parents Who Demand Change
To the educators and policymakers of HCPSS,
This letter is on behalf of a sizable (230+) community of parents/guardians with children enrolled in various HCPSS elementary, middle, and high schools. We write to express our deep concerns about how HCPSS is implementing LGBTQ student support programs and activities in its schools.
We respect the rights of the LGBTQ community and appreciate HCPSS’s efforts to remain inclusive to all communities of students. We are not opposed to HCPSS providing support for LGBTQ students so that they are not marginalized and are treated with the same dignity and respect due to all students. But we are deeply disturbed by the strong pressure in HCPSS schools for all students to conform in actively promoting the LGBTQ lifestyle, or else be marginalized themselves.
Whether or not to participate in an activity to express support for a cause should remain every individual student’s choice, and those choices should be honored equally for all views. It is no different from a school offering an alternative activity when a student chooses not to participate in a Halloween parade, for example. If a school fails to ensure that whatever choice a student makes regarding personal matters (whether academic or social/cultural) the choice is honored, valued, and accepted, then the school’s administration is not doing its job and is failing the student. Unless a student’s personal choice would be harmful to others or the student him-/herself, it should not be brushed aside or looked down upon, and certainly should not subject the student to bullying.
Mindful of that, we implore the school system to review the process of conducting its LGBTQ student support programs and activities. Our children have experienced actual instances where expressing a personal choice not to participate in certain LGBTQ support activities has sparked harsh feedback in several schools, including Bonnie Branch Middle School. For example, when a student at Bonnie Branch MS openly expressed her choice in class not to participate in one of the LGBTQ support activities because of her traditional Christian beliefs, she was immediately ostracized by classmates with charges of being ‘homophobic’ and a ‘bigot’. The student shared that she felt bullied then, and whenever else she does not agree to participate in LGBTQ events/activities in her school.
Howard county leaders have always emphasized Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. What kind of inclusion and equity is observed when a young student is made to feel rejected and standing all alone because she expressed her sincere Christian beliefs? What kind of character building and critical thinking development can parents expect in an environment where students feel pressured to ‘just go with the flow, as nothing will change’ if they dissent on complicated issues like this?
We respectfully request that you establish guidelines or other measures to create an environment in HCPSS schools where all ideas, thoughts, and personal choices are duly honored and welcomed. The concept of 'Freedom of Speech' is fundamental to our free society, and learning of our children having to silence themselves simply because their choices are not popular or widely accepted is seriously alarming.
Suppressing individual expression in the name of LGBTQ awareness/support flies in the face of our Constitutional guarantees of individual rights.
We are committed to making sure that every single school in HCPSS is a place where student choices are recognized and honored without prejudice or bias.