By SFUSD LGBTQ Support Services
“Honesty in the face of consequences is a cultural specialty, and, I believe, a precious trait that has drawn queer and trans people into the work of social transformation for decades and generations.” – Lavender Commencement Address by Dr. Mauro Sifuentes, SFUSD LGBTQ Support Services - Watch Dr. Sifuentes’ full address here.
This June, the San Francisco Unified School District is proud to honor the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning members of our community in celebrating LGBTQ Pride Month. During this historic moment of social protest against police violence toward black youth and adults, we remember that the first Pride events were not parades, but protests– often led by black LGBTQ leaders. The work of solidarity is an important legacy within LGBTQ communities and cultures.
San Francisco public schools celebrate and strive to support our LGBTQ students every day. We welcome the whole student and all their identities and experiences, including race, class, culture, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and ability, all of which shape our dynamic classrooms and school communities. We work to ensure that schools create learning environments where every student is welcome, and actively respond to experiences of discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
SFUSD’s LGBTQ Support Services (part of the School Health Programs Department) aims to support educators with tools and resources to address LGBTQ topics in a school setting, using intersectional approaches and materials that respect difference and diversity across race and culture in particular. Our work prioritizes rebuilding social relationships among students, families, schools, and communities more broadly.
A highlight of our work is the Queer and Trans Advisory Council (QTAC), a space designed for LGBTQ+ high school students from across SFUSD to step more fully into their leadership. This group represents much of the diversity present within the district and the youth always strive for greater inclusion, noticing which voices are – and are not – present. In QTAC, students advise adults on how the district can best support LGBTQ students, and they also host events, including GSA Days and leadership training summits for other students and educators.
On May 28, 2020 QTAC hosted an online Lavender Commencement Ceremony for their graduating LGBTQ+ seniors, which featured a moving address from SFUSD LGBTQ Support Services Coordinator Dr. Mauro Sifuentes. In Dr. Sifuentes’s speech, they shared how the values of intergenerational trust and honesty are core components of LGBTQ+ activism across time, including the present intersectional and solidarity work in partnership with current social protests.
In San Francisco, we have advocated for a school board, district leaders, educators, as well as city and state legislators that affirm the dignity and basic rights of students to self-determine their sexual orientation and gender identity without fear of reprisal or discrimination. So many of these school leaders have responded to these calls with support and solidarity over the years, making SFUSD’s LGBTQ Support Services a powerful and rare example of integrated student support made possible through collaboration across classrooms, communities, school board leaders, and local and regional legislators.
We are committed to continuing our efforts to create learning environments where every student is safe, healthy, and supported in learning to the best of their abilities. We encourage districts throughout California and the United States to seek the leaders and expertise (from within and outside of their own communities) to do the same.
To learn more about our LGBTQ Support Services visit https://www.sfusd.edu/LGBTQ/