HomeLettersEducator: Glendale Must Not Become Owasso

Educator: Glendale Must Not Become Owasso

I am a 25-year educator in the GUSD and a visible advocate for LGBTQ+ students. Since 2021, opportunistic strangers have created a caricature of me and fellow local educators broadcasting defamatory lies to tens of thousands of people amidst their campaign of terror in our community. I am now and will continue to be OK.
But will our kids?
Nex Benedict, a 15-year-old nonbinary student at Owasso High School in Owasso, Oklahoma, was bullied for months before being brutally assaulted in a school restroom on Feb. 7. Nex died the next day.
This assault did not happen in a vacuum. Starting in 2022, anti-LGBTQ+ extremists began ruthless attacks via social media on a staff member of Owasso High School who spoke out in support of LGBTQ+ students. Members of the Owasso school community acknowledge that the fear and hate these outside forces directed toward their school scared students and allies and emboldened those with preexisting prejudiced views.
The parallels between Owasso and Glendale are terrifying. The willfully uninformed individuals who have hijacked our School Board meetings and use social media to spread lies about GUSD educators and our curriculum are following the identical playbook used in Owasso. On my own campus year this year, our GSA (Gender-Sexuality Alliance) officers noted some decline in participation at our annual Solidarity Week activities.
When asked why this may have been, our GSA president immediately replied, “Students are more scared. The hate-filled language by adults in the public meetings is trickling into school.” I had naively hoped our students were unaware of the orchestrated campaign against their very existence.
In Owasso, these same exact tactics ended in the death of a child.
This cannot be repeated. The faces of this hate campaign in Glendale running for office are largely supported by people who do not live in this community. They do not know who we are. On or before March 5, it is imperative we elect Telly Tse and Neda Farid to the GUSD School Board. They stand in allyship with all children and families in our community.

Alicia Harris
Sherman Oaks

First published in the March 2 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

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