'Our students must be able to choose the time and the manner in which they share their transness and with whom,' Dawn Riggs stated.
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.
Teachers: this is the person you should strive to be.— Erin Reed (@ErinInTheMorn) September 20, 2022
She saved lives, 100% certain.
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."
May every LGBTQ+ student have as fierce an advocate as Dawn Riggs, who testified against a policy in Ohio that would ban trans students pronouns, out them, ban them from bathrooms.— Erin Reed (@ErinInTheMorn) September 20, 2022
“They knew they would be safe for at least a little while each day” in her class. pic.twitter.com/e3a4e3u1UN
"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.
Every child deserves Safe Spaces -- free of bullying, free of disrespect. Their school should always be one of those spaces! pic.twitter.com/SCKunebnAe— Fairfax Grassroots (@fxGrassroots) September 21, 2022
May every trans child and teen and every LGBTQIA+ student have such an understanding teacher. Wonderful to see, but I fear her powerful words will be ignored.— Annastasya (She/Her) 🌈🏳️⚧️🏳️🌈 (@AlexiaNatalieS1) September 20, 2022
I wish my children could have teachers like that.— Karla Claire (@KarlaClaire616) September 21, 2022
As a parent who happens to be trans, my kids have been bullied because of what I am and now have changed schools while I remain at a distance so they’re protected.
It shouldn’t have to be like this.
"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."
And yet they still put the work in and they’re there for our students who need them the most. She’s a living hero.— Erin Reed (@ErinInTheMorn) September 20, 2022
Ikr? I wish teachers had taught about trans people. Possibly could have transitioned and lived a happy life... 😔— Kairi (@KairisFirstMix) September 20, 2022
I'm from that region of Ohio. It's a deep red, conservative area. Ms. Riggs has to have a lot of bravery and a very thick skin. We need more teachers like her.— Lissa Bryan (@LissaBryan) September 21, 2022
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."
‘I’m being villainized’ — Trans community speaks against Board of Ed. resolution opposing LGBTQ+ protections— Honesty For Ohio Education (@Honesty4OhioEd) September 17, 2022
by Morgan Trauhttps://t.co/wsbxTkXBHK
"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."