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State Board of Ed adopts LGBTQ student guidance

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The State Board of Education voted Wednesday to adopt voluntary guidelines to help schools with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning students.

The policies are intended to help schools create a safe and supportive learning environment for LGBTQ individuals.

The guidance was voted on after more than three hours of public comment.

Approximately 60 people were given three minutes to share their thoughts on the issue. Commenters ranged from school principals and students to state legislators and medical professionals.

Several parents of LGBTQ students spoke Wednesday in favor of the guidance, including Joe Adcock. Adcock has a transgender son and said while his son’s school was very supportive, not all schools are.

“We’ve found a lot of schools don’t have this in place,” he said. “And they don’t allow the children to be themselves and it puts them at a great risk for drug abuse and suicide and just not being able to be who they really are.”

But others were not convinced that the guidance was necessary.

Some felt LGBQ students do not need additional protections.

Others, like Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R-Canton) say adopting this guidance will have a negative impact on non-LGBTQ kids.

“This isn’t going to reduce bullying,” Colbeck said. “This is going to increase bullying. In particular against people of faith that stand up for what they believe. I think there is going to be a significant increase in bullying against them.”

Many state legislators had comments before and after the vote took place, including some members of the Democratic Caucus. They submitted an open letter to the board prior to the vote.

State Representative Marcia Hovey-Wright (D-Muskegon) was one of them, and she said later, “The hullabaloo seems to be a lot of fear mongering and fear much ado about nothing kind of thing.”

The guidance, which passed with six votes in favor and two against, addresses issues including bathrooms and locker rooms, student privacy, and parental involvement.

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