Q: What personal experiences have you had with dealing with LGBTQ rights?
A: I have devoted my life to promoting inclusion and equity and will continue to do so long past this campaign. Some personal experiences include my service on the board of directors of Girl Scouts of Western Washington. I joined my colleagues in voting to turn back a $100,000 contribution from a donor who specified that it may not be used for transgender girls. As an organization, we crafted one of the most progressive policies of inclusion in the nation to ensure equal acceptance of transgender girls in Girl Scouts. On a more personal level I informally adopted two children who were rejected by biological family after “coming out." I have also co-taught a diversity class with a gay colleague that addressed a broad range of topics related to diversity and equity in school, including cultural/ethnic diversity and sexual orientation. Our students developed their own personal projects, and we hosted the first, ever, Mix-it-Up Day at our high school.
Q: What is your position on supporting teachers with teaching sexual health curriculum?
A: There are options for sexual health curriculum that are already available on the OSPI website, and I believe we should provide some resources for teachers to receive training on whatever curriculum is selected by the school board. In addition, I would like OSPI to work with community partners to develop training to be delivered K-12 teaching students to embrace the incredible diversity that exists in classrooms across our state.
Q: What is your position on including issues of gender identity in sex ed curriculum?
A: I believe gender identity must be taught as separate from sexual orientation, because including this discussion as part of sexual health curriculum creates confusion. Gender identity and gender expression must be addressed starting in kindergarten in accordance with the standards developed by OSPI.
Q: What is your position on how schools should address gender specific bathrooms, locker rooms and extracurricular activities?
A: I will advocate for schools to create policy based on the federal expectations that transgender students should be able to select the bathroom and locker rooms that match their gender identity. As with Girl Scouts, students should have equal access to extracurricular activities. OSPI must provide school districts with model policy to support transgender students' use of bathrooms, locker rooms, and access to extracurricular activities (see Snohomish School District as an example)
Q: What have you done to work with kids on bullying, especially when it comes to LGBTQ youth?
A: I have done anti-bullying work with individual schools for the past 10 years. I have done everything from large whole-school keynotes to full days of activities with small and medium-sized groups related to building community across differences of many kinds.
Q: Who are some of the people with whom you have spoken to/programs you have attended to receive guidance and understanding on LGBTQ issues, and how they relate to public education?
A: Danni Askini (Gender Justice League), Dominique Stevens (LGBT Commission, Seattle), Anne Hawkins (teacher, LGBTQ community, Tacoma), Aiden Keys (founder of Gender Odyssey conference), Seth Kirby (Executive Director, Odyssey Center), Justice Mary Yu, State Representative Laurie Jinkins, Tina Podlodowski, Sarah Lorimer (FLASH curriculum teacher, Beacon Hill Elementary, member of LGBTQ community). Attended the Gender Odyssey Conference (afternoons of August 4-5), scheduled to attend Queer Curriculum (training for educators, offered at Puget Sound ESD, October 8).
Q: Have you ever supported conversion therapy?
A: I have never supported conversion therapy, and have made that stance extremely clear. I have witnessed first hand how damaging that approach is. As I stated in my Equal Rights Washington questionnaire, I fully support a ban for all minors in our state. As it relates to the SEAMEC questionnaire, it was an oversight that I marked the wrong box when completing the document. In no way have I changed my position from that of supporting Conversion Therapy to now supporting a ban.