Editor’s Note: Letters to the editor from Joshua Chapman and Melissa Goldman were received and published by the Los Alamos Reporter, however, Alex Moulton’s letter was not submitted.
I may have missed another letter and, if so, I apologize for not thanking that writer too. The past few weeks, and especially the past few days, have left me thinking about this local school board election. I cannot wait for it to be over! I have followed online commentary, considered the message, and I feel a few things must be said.
First, Alex Moulton, Joshua Chapman, Melissa Goldman, and anyone else who has publicly stood up for yourself, thank you. Responding to a public attack that vilifies you as a member of a targeted group is difficult. Your willingness to stand up and push back deserves recognition. In my fifty years, I have never seen a school board election this contentious.
Typically, they are uncontested and uneventful. Candidates are often policy wonks, and rarely (like never) are dialogues as polarized as what we have witnessed. Everyone should know that what is happening to Los Alamos now is part of a national drama playing out across this country.
There is a national effort to force queer and trans people back into the closet, right now, that effort is focused on public schools.
A majority of Americans today do not support this ideology, U.S. citizens increasingly believe in the value of “live and let live.” However, a loud minority of people are sick and tired of seeing queer couples and trans folks in public. They are trying to regress society back to the point where queer and trans people remain hidden and secretive, where public acknowledgement of being queer is greeted with public shaming, ostracization, pejorative exclamations—sometimes even violence.
It was not too many years ago that Matthew Sheppard was tortured and murdered for being gay , and while this act of terror against gay people shocked our collective conscious, while this country recently legalized gay marriage, it is worth noting that according to the UCLA School of Law, transgender people are more than four times as likely as cisgender people to be victims of violent crime, and according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, 2019 saw a twenty percent increase in anti-trans hate crime. So, while there have been improvements, there is still a lot of work, and I am unwilling to passively sit and watch society regress to the levels of hate that existed only ten years ago.
Second, there are numerous platitudes being used to misdirect from the meaning of what is being said. For example, the platitude of “opposing ideas” is misleading, because the disagreement is not about teaching students how to be LGBTQIA+. The schools clearly do not teach kids to be queer. Rather, the disagreement is between one group saying, “We do not want to hide in fear anymore,” and the other responding with, “We do not want to see you. You need to hide, again.”
Another platitude is the statement, “I don’t hate LGBTQIA+ people. I just disagree with their ‘lifestyle’.” This is false because there is no distinct LGBTQIA+ lifestyle. This platitude means “I should be able to dictate how LGBTQIA+ people express themselves sexually. It doesn’t matter that their sexual activities ae private.” Note that simply existing as a queer person is seen as sexual activity by this crowd.
Yet another platitude is, “I am worried about LGBTQIA+ people. Their behavior is deviant and self-destructive. I am trying to help them, and you are supporting them in a harmful lifestyle.” This platitude means, “I should be able to enforce my religious beliefs on others with regards to how they are allowed to express themselves sexually and how they form families, and society should be deferential to my religious beliefs on this topic, conflicting religious beliefs don’t matter, mine are the right ones.”
I point all of this out, because it is easy to be fooled by what is being said. The true message is disguised as, “an exchange of competing ideas” or as “a disagreement about schools teaching people how to be LGBTQIA+.” These talking points are part of a nationally coordinated effort to confuse the issue so that people think LGBTQIA+ people are somehow receiving special rights, rather than the standard rights that all of us expect, namely, to live our lives as we see fit, without being subjected to prejudicial harassment for who we are. The LGBTQIA+ agenda is nothing more that the expectation that LGBTQIA+ people should enjoy the same rights as non-LGBTQIA+ people!
This brings me to a final point. I recently watched a video from the last school board meeting, where a parent hijacked the public comment portion of the meeting to express their personal disgust for LGBTQIA+ people saying, at one point, “deviancy is an issue that needs to stay at home.” The school board, and the administration were understandably surprised and shocked. They were not sure how to respond. At least one queer student was present to hear this parent’s verbal attack, and to hear the immediate applause from other parents who also want to see LGBTQIA+ people return to living hidden and secretive lives.
I completely understand why the School Board and the administration were unprepared for this incident. However, we have now seen it and we know it is likely to happen, again. What happened at that School Board meeting was a clear violation of Los Alamos Public Schools’ Gender-Based Discrimination and Harassment policy 5130.1 R Page 2, and when someone attempts to repeat this violation, the School Board and Administration should immediately intervene and stop the violation from happening.
As I said, I really cannot wait for this election to be over. At the same time, this is not a normal School Board election. I met all three Republican identifying candidates at the Republican Party’s candidate forum a little over a month ago. They were personable, friendly, and thoughtful. I truly enjoyed meeting them, but I have seen screen shots from two of them which expose extreme positions, and their supporters are advocating for a climate where LGBTQIA+ people return to hiding, out of fear of public shaming and intimidation. I worry that what is truly on the ballot next week, may well be a choice between continuing to make our schools safer for all students, so that they can learn in a climate that is free from prejudice, bigotry and harassment, or regression to an era where anti-LGBTQIA+ prejudice is again widely acceptable, and it forces LGBTQIA+ people to hide who they are, out of fear.
Please be sure to vote, especially if, like me, you often miss school board elections.For the contested seats, Please support Antonio Juarige, Erin Green, Melanie Colgan
You can vote early by going to the County Building and casting your ballot, in person from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day from now, through Saturday Oct. 30.
If you are not registered, you can go register to vote, and vote on the same day, at the County Clerk’s office in the County building from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, tomorrow or Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.
Early voting in White Rock is available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. now through Saturday, Oct. 30, at the WR Town Hall – Training Rooms
Please make a point of voting in this election. It really does matter.