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Supporting LGBTQ Students – Back to School 2016

(Aug. 22, 2016) Catherine Read examines the challenges facing LGBTQ students as they prepare to return to school in September. Recent cases regarding transgender bathroom policies in Fairfax County, Gloucester County, Stafford County and Grayson County have left Virginia students and families with a great deal of anxiety.

In the first segment, Pat Hynes of the Fairfax County School Board outlines the policies put into place in FCPS school policy recognizing sexual orientation and gender identity as categories that join others as being protected from discriminatory treatment. She discusses the goals of the school board to protect the rights, privacy and safety of some of the most vulnerable students in our schools – transgender children.

Robert Rigby joins Catherine in the second segment to discuss the organization he founded to meet the needs of LGBT teachers, “FCPS Pride.” As an out gay teacher, he has sought to provide information and support for other teachers and school staff, and that effort has now grown to include many more people in the community. Robert has become a key organizer in galvanizing support among many interested constituencies in the fight for stronger protections for the LGBTQ student population in Fairfax County and beyond.

In the third segment, Marianne Vakiener, an LGBT Ally and parent of two FCPS graduates, talks about her support for better education on human sexuality that goes back to the 1970s. As a tutor and educator, Marianne has spent decades in front of students teaching them many things in addition to academics. As a Unitarian Universalist, she teaches a program called “Our Whole Lives: Lifespan Sexuality Eduction” (OWL) that includes accurate information about the LGBTQ community. She has great stories to tell that illustrate the challenges faced by students on a daily basis.

Bianca Rey, a trans advocate, joins Catherine in the final segment of the show. Originally from the Philippines and educated there, Bianca talks about her transition as a child and how she was supported by her school and her family. She lives in Northern Virginia, has a job, recently became an American citizen and is in a supportive relationship. She is party of the Equality Virginia Transgender Advocacy Speakers Bureau and is available to speak to groups who are interested in knowing more about issues related to the transgender community.

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