Letter: School district should be commended for having policy that supports trans students

I want to respond to the recent commentary by Heather Devos, chair of the Routt County Republicans, concerning the Steamboat Springs School District’s policy that protects and supports transgender students. In the commentary, Devos made many points that show a lack of understanding.

These days, it’s all over the news — governors and state legislatures across the country trying to pass laws banning gender-affirming health care, banning trans people from using certain bathrooms, banning trans girls and women from competing on sports teams.

I applaud the SSSD for having a policy that is both supportive and protective of transgender students. I wish all schools and school boards had this fortitude.

The commentary claimed LBGTQIA+ is an “ideology.” That is ludicrous. For all of history, there have been people who are LBGTQIA+. The tragic thing is it has not been accepted. While the tide has slowly started to turn, there remains non-acceptance, non-belief and little support. People who are of the LBGTQIA+ community have to be brave in the face of discrimination.

In reference to the commentary supporting parental rights and rejecting the SSSD’s support of trans students, there is an educational opportunity.

Being transgender is not a choice and is not some idea put in a child’s head. Children as young as 2 or 3 years old have come out as transgender. They have a persistent, internal knowledge of their gender. This conflicts with the commonly held belief that there are only two genders, male and female, that correspond to the sex of a baby at birth. While the majority of us grew up having this ingrained, myself included, trans and nonbinary people continue to show us this simply isn’t true.

Children and teens who innately know they are transgender are likely to tell someone they trust. In a perfect world, this would be their parents. But there are many parents, and even state governments, who do not and will not accept this. There are legislators who claim supportive parents are “indoctrinating” their children and harming them if they allow for gender-affirming care. Some states even talk about imprisoning parents or reporting them to social services.

This rhetoric is creating harm, be it from unaccepting parents, schools or state governments. The high suicide rates for trans kids are very real. Statistics bear this out. But research is showing that in a supportive environment, mental health issues lessen significantly.

Disbelievers need to listen to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and over 25 other professional medical organizations that all recognize transgender people.

It is unfortunate this commentary reflects views that are harmful to transgender children and teens, especially in our own community. I hope Heather Devos and the Routt County Republicans who share her views will learn to have open minds and educate themselves.

Wendy Smith
Steamboat Springs

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