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Amazing teacher explains how having supportive educators can transform the life of trans students

'Our students must be able to choose the time and the manner in which they share their transness and with whom,' Dawn Riggs stated.

Amazing teacher explains how having supportive educators can transform the life of trans students
Cover Image Source: Twitter/Erin Reed

A teacher's impassioned speech before the Ohio State Board of Education in support of trans students is winning hearts across social media amid a nationwide effort to push anti-inclusive policies. Dawn Riggs, an educator of more than three decades, was testifying against a new Ohio Board of Education resolution that would require Ohio schools to out trans and nonbinary students to their parents. "I have many trans and nonbinary students in my classes. My experience with transgender individuals spans my entire career. I am still in touch with some of those folks. Every single former student has told me how much knowing they had a safe space to be their authentic selves has meant to them," Riggs told the board this week.


In her testimony, Riggs shared that many students have opened up to her about their trauma, suicidal thoughts and their "wish to disappear" over the years. "The fact that they could walk into my classroom, be called the name they chose, and be called by the pronouns that reflect their lived experience made a difference. Even if no other adult in their life affirmed their identity, they knew they would be safe for at least a little while each day," she said. "It is no burden to use a name that we are asked to use. It is no burden to use the pronouns that are shared with us. If your friend William asked you to call him Billy, you don't blink an eye."


"Our students must be able to choose the time and the manner in which they share their transness and with whom. It is not our place to force them to do so. I urge you to oppose this hateful and misguided rhetoric," Riggs urged the board. According to WEWS-TV, the "Resolution to support parents, schools, and districts in rejecting harmful, coercive, and burdensome gender identity policies" was introduced by conservative state board member Brendan Shea after reading about Attorney General Dave Yost's July lawsuit against the Biden Administration for extending Title IX to protect against gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination.




"I think many of the people pushing for these types of things—again, that are brand new, they're trendy, they were introduced in a sense, 10 minutes ago," Shea said. "I acknowledge some of these folks are in the majority on so many other issues pertaining to mental health... It doesn't seem to be working... If we upend something as basic, and I think generally accepted as a scientific fact prior to 10 minutes ago, that a human male has an X and Y chromosome... If we upend that, then I don't think we have a leg to stand on in education in terms of upholding certain things as self-evident truths."




Four members of the Board of Education—Christina Collins, Meryl Johnson, Michelle Newman and Antoinette Miranda—released an official joint statement against Shea's resolution. "We are embarrassed that our time as a board will be spent discussing an issue that so egregiously works to bully children and threaten adults," the statement read. "Shea not only presented a resolution full of factual errors and based in religious pedagogy, but he also submitted a resolution that works to detract our body from the work many of us were elected to do." Scott DiMauro, president of the Ohio Education Association, called the resolution "despicable."


"This resolution advocating for a reckless disregard for federal law is despicable," DiMauro said. "Policies that force educators to 'out' transgender and non-binary students will put our students in danger and will further exacerbate the growing educator retention and recruitment crisis in our state as excellent educators continue to be driven from their classrooms by inflammatory rhetoric and political scapegoating putting public education in the center of culture wars manufactured by out-of-state extremists to distract voters from the real issues facing the schools in our state."

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