In the southern beacon of hope that is the ATL, there is an educational institution that’s turning the usually traumatic experience of queer students on its head. And tonight I am honored to have the Executive Director of this amazing new school: Christian Zsilavetz.
If it’s felt lately like there has been a large number of anti-trans bills proposed across the country…it’s not your imagination. There has. NCTE is currently tracking some 49 proposed and inactive bills in 19 states in the 2016 legislative session. And a vast majority of those laws affect transgender and gender non-conforming students. These are the bathroom and locker room bills you’ve likely heard about: That a student must use the restroom that matches their sex assigned at birth, or in some cases, their genitals. And then there’s bullying: According to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, only 18 states and the District of Columbia have anti-bullying legislation that mentions sexual orientation and gender identity. Further, they report that only 13 states and DC have anti-discrimination laws that protect student based on both sexual orientation and gender identity. And then there’s the 8 states with ‘No Promo Homo’ laws: these are states that have laws expressly forbidding teachers from discussing gay and trans issues in a positive light, if at all. Alabama’s law, for instance states (and this is a direct quote) “Classes must emphasize, in a factual manner and from a public health perspective, that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under the laws of the state.”
Now…sandwiched between two of these ‘No Promo Homo’ states is Georgia, which can be a bit of a contradiction when considering the city of Atlanta with the rest of the state. But in that beacon of hope that is the ATL, there is an educational institution that’s turning the usually traumatic experience of queer students on its head. And tonight I am honored to have the Executive Director of this amazing new school: Christian Zsilavetz.