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Side Eye: Sac Area Schools don’t offer the security you believe

As I stand at the Buckeye school board’s meeting for the forced outing of queer children, listening to parent’s fear of their children “daring” to be queer prioritized over my community's safety, I think “I’ve been warning my friends to pay attention.” As I hear parents' poisoned with hate, mocking trans children and marking us queer people as abnormalities, I know why too many have let their guard down.

Living in Sacramento, a blue area in a blue state, surrounded by what many perceive to be a blue wall against hate gives one a sense of security. That the Sacramento metropolitan region, as blue as it is, could never be a Texas.

But, that sense of security can be deceptive. It leads to complacency. It becomes too easy to miss the dangers. Maybe Sacramento isn’t Texas. But the threat is here, too.

Conservatives, Republicans, fascists, and hate groups are attacking the Sacramento community:

  • In 2022, the latest year for which we have data, anti-LGBTQ crimes made up the largest share of hate crimes in the Sacramento area, accounting for 65 of 191 events (34%)

  • The number of anti-LGBTQ hate crime events reported in the four-county Sacramento area nearly doubled in 2022 compared to 2021

Attacks have centered on some of the most vital spaces, schools. Despite a lawsuit filed following Chino Valley Unified School District’s passage of a forced outing policy, school boards around the state have adopted similar policies. The Sacramento region is no exception:

August 21: A series of bomb threats in neighboring Yolo County have shut down schools and libraries in Davis. The threats have contained derogatory & hateful speech directed against the LGBTQ population. This has been ongoing since.

September 6th: Rocklin Unified School District passed a “parental notification” policy requiring parents to be notified if a child asks to be referred to with different pronouns, name or gender, or if the student asks to use the bathroom or locker room that is not consistent with their sex.

Pictured below, Julie Hupp, president of the Rocklin Unified School District Board of Trustees

September 6th: Buckeye Union School District held a discussion around a proposed policy change that was explicitly modeled on the one in Chino Valley; there was no vote at the conclusion of the meeting, instead staff were directed to look into the legal implications of the policy.

  • The wording in the submitted policy proposal was changed slightly from the one adopted in Chino Valley (as an attempt to escape the potential for lawsuits) to try and frame these inhumane policies as being about “mental health”, so that if a child were to have so-called "gender troubles" parents would be notified, alongside mental health issues like depression and anxiety

September 14: Dry Creek Joint Elementary School District passed a similar policy

September 19: Elk Grove Unified School District considered a report on parental notification after repeated efforts to pass a similar policy.

September 28: Roseville Unified School District started the process of introducing a parental notification policy.

Of these, only Elk Grove is in Sacramento County, but the rising tide of hate suggests we are not as safe here as we might think. This is no time for complacency. When I attended the Senate Judiciary hearing for AB 957, which made parental support for gender-affirming care a factor in custody hearings, those opposed to the bill far outnumbered those in support. Fortunately, the committee passed the bill–but the Governor vetoed it. We, the queer community, are in danger. We cannot afford to give in to being misled by a sense of safety–it’s beguiling and false.

So, what can we do?

  1. Deconstruct the false sense of security that comes along with residing in a blue area

    1. Blue cities do not exist in a vacuum. What is happening around the country affects blue areas too

  2. Pay attention

    1. To the country. To what is happening in your community

  3. Show up to the school board meetings. Apply Pressure

    1. As school boards across Sacramento consider or adopt forced outing policies, show support in whatever capacity possible. Write school boards

  4. Write your local community leaders to support queer rights and enact policies to keep us safe

  5. Vote for representatives that oppose the national trend

  6. Know your enemy

    1. Research what hate groups are in your area, know their tactics

    2. Share with your community

  7. Denounce hate when you see it. Make it known that Sacramento will not tolerate hate

  8. Invest in community practices and care

    1. Find who will support and fight for you

  9. Always remember to take care of yourself

It requires all of us. If we as a community act together, we can keep us safe. But we have to do this. We cannot just assume being “blue” is enough.

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