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Fairbanks school district holds public comment on LGBTQ curriculum

 Community member with rainbow face paint on cheeks attends FNSBSD board meeting. (Karen Simmons/KTVF)
Community member with rainbow face paint on cheeks attends FNSBSD board meeting. (Karen Simmons/KTVF) (KTVF)
Published: Jan. 22, 2020 at 2:57 PM AKST
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Community members filled the school board chambers on Tuesday night for public testimony on the education board’s proposed LGBTQ elective courses.

Many in attendance gave testimony in support of the new curriculum, while others expressed their concerns and objections regarding its content.

Zakia Mitchell, a Fairbanks community member in favor of the purposed curriculum, argued that LGBTQ students are often denied a place to call their own.

“People who identify as LGBTQ do not desire to govern schools, we are merely requesting a space within it -- and frankly begging for space is degrading enough,” Mitchell said, “When are we going to start making room without humiliating people first to get it?”

One community member drew attention to how the school district spends taxpayer money. Blake Burley of North Pole said tax payer funding should not go toward LGBTQ based education. “Our own Lathrop ball team is having to fund raise when we’re suggesting that we should use borough tax dollars to fund a curriculum that is going to teach about a lifestyle that God says is an abomination,” Burley said.

Peter Miller, a former student of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, brought attention to diversity and the important place it has held throughout human history. “The choice that we have as a community and as a society is not whether or not we want LGBTQ people to exist, it is how we treat and value one another" Miller said, “Thank goodness the days are gone when people like me would be burned at the stake.”

Many community members who testified said the proposed elective courses cross a line. Lance Roberts, a community member of Fairbanks, says there is a political agenda accompanying the proposed changes. “it’s special interest groups trying to grab power by grabbing special rights and taking rights away from other people,” Roberts said.

Wrapping up the hour testimony, Rev. Leslie Fails, a Fairbanks community member, highlighted the importance of accepting LGBTQ people from a young age. “I’ve seen firsthand the spiritual and emotional damage that this stigma causes to queer and trans youth, to their families, their parents, their caretakers who love and care for them,” Fails said, “a queer or trans child’s educational journey is as worthy and should be supported as much as any child’s.”

The curriculum committee will review testimony given by the community and will present a third or final draft to the education board later this year.

Copyright 2020 KTVF. All rights reserved.

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