More than a year ago, as an openly gay appointee to the School Board of Broward County's Diversity Committee, I visited a high school to witness their inaugural Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) meeting. I held back the tears when a transgender student stood up and courageously shared the struggle and horrific reality the student endured after being rejected by their family and left to die homeless on the dangerous streets. It is a story too many LGBT-activists already know, a story of a youth forced into prostitution, street drugs, possible HIV-infection, and attempted suicide. Over the past several years, I'm proud to say that I have and will continue to be part of efforts to advance protections and inclusion for all people.
Broward County Public Schools, the nation's sixth largest school district, with nearly 35,000 employees and 250,000 students, amended the District's Non-Discrimination Policy to include protections for transgender students and employees on March 1, 2011. Paul Hyman, executive director of The Pride Center at Equality Park and Mark Ketcham, executive director of SunServe both thanked board members for continuing to support LGBTQ-youth.
School board members, administrators and members of the public listened attentively as the executive directors from two of South Florida's LGBTQ-organizations spoke in support of the change in policy. One parent spoke in support of the policy change and even shared her family's experience and disclosed her child is transgender. The school board voted unanimously to approve the change in policy.
Representatives from Equality Florida and Broward Human Rights Initiatives were present at the January 25th when the proposed changes were presented to the board on its first reading. In a written statement, both organizations voiced their strong support of the policy change to board members.
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