Queer Columbus: Hilliard schools lawsuit threatens safety of kids

Eight families are suing Hilliard schools for allowing teachers to wear Pride badges that read ‘I’m here.’ The lawsuit could foster an environment that is less safe for LGBTQ+ students.
Max Böhme
Max BöhmeUnsplash

Eight families are suing the Hilliard City School District for allowing teachers to wear rainbow Pride badges that read “I’m here.” The lawsuit claims that to wear these badges is “to specifically solicit from children as young as 6-years-old, private, intimate conversations about sexual behaviors.”

Queer kids are asked to grow up without a shared culture. Queer kids don’t always have a family they can rely on to support them and shelter them from a bigoted world. They don’t always have a support system. Studies from the Trevor Project show that even one supportive adult in a LGBTQ+ kid’s life can reduce suicide and suicidal ideation drastically.

The badges worn by these teachers can forge relationships that literally save lives – all while maintaining the appropriate boundaries with students. The badge doesn’t say, “Ask me about the gay sex I’m having!” It says, “I’m here.” And, really, this is what these eight families don’t want. They don’t want gay teachers in the classroom.

These families can’t say that they don’t think gay people should have certain civil rights, so they say that a teacher mentioning their partner in class is indoctrinating students. And they say that reading one book about a penguin with two dads for every 20 straight fairy tales is grooming them. 

I understand that it is scary to be a parent, to trust public school teachers with children. And I understand that they want their children to be safe from predators and misinformation. But while this lawsuit may produce peace of mind for a few parents, it makes Hilliard schools a little less safe for queer kids. 

Besides, these parents were already given a sign that Hilliard City Schools will take action against grooming. The most recent teacher in Hilliard who was accused of having an "inappropriate relationship" with a student resigned in December after being placed on administrative leave.

He is, by all accounts, a heterosexual man with a wife and children.

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