NUSD Race: LGBT Student Support

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

THE NATOMAS BUZZ invited the 10 candidates running for Natomas Unified school board to participate in a series of articles wherein they answer questions submitted by readers.

Today’s question was sent to us by Nate Pelczar who asked, “If you were elected, what actionable steps will you take this term to ensure that LGBT students have the full support of school teachers, administrators, and staff in bringing their ‘whole self’ to school?”

Here are the answers submitted by the deadline, in the order they were received:


Bullying of those who are in some way different damages the victims, the perpetrators, and the community as a whole. I will do everything in my power to provide and equal and quality access to every child, and protect all students in Natomas Unified. However, a successful bullying elimination program focuses on our shared humanity, encouraging participants to look beyond the differences that have divided us for far too long. It penalizes bullying, rewards excellence in citizenship and promotes character qualities like kindness and patience. It presents individual students as invaluable human beings whose particular abilities and characteristics contribute to their enormous potential to learn, improve, and positively affect our world.


I would begin by organizing diversity and sensitivity training for all teachers, staff and employees, as well as students, so that we can create an environment where LGBT students will always be seen as integral to any discussion that ends in policy for the district. I would also make sure there is support in our PTAs to bolster tolerance and community support. It is critically important to teach children to be accepting and tolerant of others of diverse backgrounds (of all kinds). Even in a time of tight budgeting, the benefit of integrating education designed to promote empathy and understanding into an already existing curriculum is well worth our time. The true measure of a civilized society is its capacity for compassion. As adults we have a tremendous responsibility to instill this value in our children, so they can strive for a more enlightened world than the one we inherited.


I personally have many friends who are in the LGBT community. Most I consider close personal friends and some who I have officiated their weddings. Everyone agrees that the teenage years for this community are the most difficult. As a teenager you already have many difficult issues. Then to add going through the ordeal coming out can be more than most people can bear. That is why we should stand behind our children. The last thing they need is to be ostracized from anyone. These kids are well aware of all of the problems and public stigma that goes with this decision and they still, stay true to themselves. I would fully support clubs, groups and other services to ensure an easier transition. These kids need to be praised for bravery, and willingness to come out, not shunned by those who are suppose to be looking out for them.


If I am elected to the Natomas School Board, I would ensure that our district provides a safe and nurturing environment that promotes diversity and inclusion for all of our students. As your elected officials, we are charged with the responsibility to ensure that our administrators, teachers, and support staff members to provide a solid support system to our students. Diversity and sensitivity training is imperative to teach our kids about the importance of acceptance and tolerance. We want to ensure that we have a school environment that encompasses a good quality education with the ability to let our students be who they are without the fear of being ridiculed by their peers.


An important step to ensuring LGBT students have the full support of teachers, administrators and staff is to better understand their current experience. Another important step is to reach out to and/or identify parents who are interested in participating in a school/community organization similar to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Educators Network (GLSEN). Through regular meetings, their concerns and needs can provide insight and a direction as to how the district can better serve their children and families. I would support, but not limit my efforts to: 1) requiring anti-bias training for all employees; 2) offering anti-bias curriculum for all students; 3) creating an advisory committee to review policy, training and resources that address prejudice; and 4) establishing partnerships with local agencies to ensure that district employees have the knowledge, skills and disposition to address the issues of prejudice and discrimination; and, 5) supporting policies such as BP 5145.7.


It is our responsibility to provide a safe, nondiscriminatory school environment for all students. Issues of discrimination for LGBT students must never be tolerated. As a board member, I will work with the Superintendent and district staff to promote a culture free from such discrimination. NUSD currently has a policy against hate-motivated behavior and the board has a responsibility to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the policy. If the policy isn’t being effective, we should actively engage parents, community organizations, and law enforcement to develop a hate prevention program that promotes a culture of safe schools for all students while also permitting the expression of the students’ “whole self.”


The job of NUSD is to give ALL students opportunities for growth and development. This includes supporting LGBT students and fighting prejudice and/or discrimination against them. NUSD must ensure that employees, students, parents, etc. create a positive and safe school and work environment that is tolerant of differences among people. First, I will ensure that adults in NUSD have the proper training that is needed to prevent discrimination in the workplace and schools. Next, I will support the creation and promotion of programs that ensure equal opportunities for all students and staff, including the implementation of diversity awareness and anti-bullying campaigns, trainings, committees or groups for students. We also need an age-appropriate curriculum that teaches awareness and sensitivity regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. Last, I’d like to ensure that the current district’s budget is prioritized to avoid staffing and cuts to student counseling and social/emotional support programs.


As a school board member, I am committed to ensure that student safety and support is always provided to all students, this charge is addressed throughout Board Policies (BP). Board policies set a definite course of action and help to guide and determine future decisions by the adults and students involved with the school district. I take my role in the establishment, the support and the enforcement of board policies with the upmost of importance. Several policies address elements of this question; BP 5137 Positive School Climate, BP 5145.2 Freedom of Speech/Expression BP 5131.2(a) Bullying, and BP 5145.3(a) Nondiscrimination/Harassment. Additionally, there are many other policies that have elements that are also applicable. During my tenure the board has implemented anti-bulling training along with greater awareness and support for administrators to identify and intervene in order to safeguard and support all students.

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