Dear community member,
Education isn’t just about textbooks and grades – it’s about fostering understanding, compassion, and ensuring every student feels included, valued, and safe.
While we’ve made strides, there’s more to be done to create a school environment that fully embraces diversity and inclusion for students, including LGBTQIA+ students. Recent actions taken by some school districts in California to adopt forced outing policies that violate students rights and can put their safety at risk underscore the work to be done. Even here in Santa Cruz County, members of our school community have shared concerns about the presence of outside advocacy groups that support these deeply misguided policies.
We firmly respect diverse perspectives and views, but this climate raises legitimate concerns for our LGBTQIA+ community – concerns I share. As I see it, this issue is very simple: regardless of individual beliefs, students have a right to safety and privacy grounded in both the California Constitution and our state’s Education Code. This is a position shared by our state’s Attorney General who is engaged in litigation to protect these very rights where they have been threatened.
It is with all of this in mind that I want to invite students, parents, allies, and community members to join an upcoming event hosted by Safe Schools Project, in partnership with the COE.
On Saturday, September 30, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Watsonville High, we are gathering for three concurrent student-led summits. Each is designed to uplift, educate, and support our LGBTQIA+ and allied students, along with their families, educators, and allies:
For Teens: The Queer, Trans, & Allied Student Summit of the Central Coast – Fall 2023. Register here.
For Adults: Delve into the Parents/Guardians, Educators, and Adult Allies “Understanding Gender” Workshop – Fall 2023. Register here.
For Younger Students and Their Families: Engage at the Glitter Kids Camp – Fall 2023. Register here.
The summits are open to attendees from Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz Counties. More than workshops, they’re a reflection of our ongoing project of ensuring the well-being of every student in our school community. I’m honored to join panels at the teen and adult summits, where we’ll explore student and family leadership opportunities that amplify the voices of our LGBTQIA+ students.
To those in our community who share these values, I hope you’ll consider joining us on September 30 at Watsonville High School.
Yours in education and equity,
Dr. Faris Sabbah
County Superintendent of Schools