SUPPORT LGBTQ+ YOUTH

July 13, 2021

PUBLIC STATEMENT REGARDING THE “I RESOLVE MOVEMENT”

AND PROTECTING TRANS & QUEER STUDENTS

In April of 2021, two educators at North Middle School in Grants Pass, science teacher Katie Medart and vice principal Rachel Damiano, launched a campaign called the “I Resolve Movement.” This campaign focuses on students’ gender identity and promotes the following policies:

 

“Shared public-school restrooms and locker rooms…could be re-designated as “anatomically-male” or “anatomically-female” spaces to only be used by persons matching the anatomical designation of the spaces as consistent with the purpose for which the spaces are built;”

 

“A student may, with parent permission, request to be called by a derivative of their legal name but it will not be mandated that students or staff be required to call the student by their preferred name;”

 

“A student may, with parent permission, request to be referred to with preferred pronouns, but it will not be mandated that students or staff be required to use the preferred pronouns.”

 

These proposed policies are transphobic and extremely harmful to queer and trans students in Grants Pass School District 7 and other school districts who may feel the impact of those who support these policies. After an outpour of letters and phone calls to GPSD7 demanding accountability for the educators who are working to cause harm in their schools, the school district put both educators on leave and launched an investigation into the matter.

 

As of today, three months later, the results of that investigation have yet to be disclosed to the public.

 

The topic has been put on the GPSD7 School Board meeting agenda multiple times and has been tabled or ignored each instance. And while the support for trans students was strong when this movement was first introduced, vocal and public support has begun to dwindle while voices of hate are only getting louder.

 

On April 22, 2021, the Edgewater Christian Fellowship church posted a 13-minute video on their YouTube channel expressing their support for the I Resolve movement. It should be noted that Medart and Damiano used Edgewater resources to document their initial proposals. On June 7, 2021, Medart and Damiano filed a lawsuit against Grants Pass School District 7 with the help of the Pacific Justice Institute. Supporters of the educators and these transphobic policies have been more and more vocal during recent school board meetings as the voices of the students, those who are most impacted by these harmful policies, have been overwhelmingly ignored.

 

But there is hope.

 

Over the last three months, multiple LGBTQ and equity organizations, community members, and most importantly, students have come together to form the I Affirm Coalition. This coalition, which is led by GPSD7 students, has worked tirelessly to create gender affirming spaces for queer and trans youth in Grants Pass and to engage with GPSD7 to ensure that the educators behind the I Resolve Movement are held accountable.

 

“From a student’s perspective who is highly involved, it’s exhausting to have to do the work that is meant for grown adults, and it is even more exhausting to do the work of adults when they don’t even listen to you because you’re a student,” says one student in the district who requested to remain anonymous for their own safety. “We are YOUR future, and we are our own future. When you, adults, are no longer around, we get the weight of the world put onto our shoulders, and that’s not fair to anyone. If you listen now, we won’t have to do so much work and instead we can continue to be kids.”

 

While accountability is a priority for the I Affirm Coalition, its primary goal is to ensure that local trans students know that they are not alone.

 

“It is so important to provide open and enthusiastic support when it comes to issues of identity and belonging,” says Kayla Wade, SOEquity Logistics Director and queer and nonbinary Grants Pass resident. “As I was growing up in Grants Pass, I rarely saw adults speak out in support of the LGBTQ community. That told me that I had to hide who I was—that it wasn’t safe for me to learn about my own identity. I carry the impact that had on me to this day, and I do not want to see other queer and trans students go through that same trauma.”

 

As members of the I Affirm Coalition, SOEquity, the Rogue Action Center LGBTQ Listening Project, and Josephine Social Justice Alliance stand in firm affirmation that students have the right to be called by their chosen name, be referred to by their pronouns, and use any facilities that align with their gender regardless of anatomy. The I Affirm Coalition is urging Grants Pass residents in GPSD7 to voice their support of queer and trans students.

 

Resources on how to seek support within the local LGBTQ community can be found on the Rogue Action Center’s LGBTQ Listening Project webpage.

 

If your or your organization is interested in joining the I Affirm Coalition, please fill out the form below:

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