Everyday, Garden State Equality fights for the rights of New Jersey's most vulnerable students, working with families, educators, students, and school administrators to make our schools safer for LGBT youth.
As the child of two public school teachers, a former educator, a historian, and a safe schools advocate, I know that an informed citizenry is the bedrock of democracy, and that quality public education is essential not only to our children's futures, but to the future of our country.
There is no other way to put this: today is a sad day for American public education, and a sad day for our nation's children.
Today, all but two Republican senators voted to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. In so doing they placed our public schools under the charge of an avowed enemy of public education.
Equality means equal access to education for all students. In a time when LGBT youth are still being bullied, and still attempting suicide at four times the rate of straight youth, DeVos' history of supporting extremely anti-LGBT organizations and causes and her refusal to comment on whether or not she supports the Obama administration's groundbreaking protections for transgender students is extremely troubling.
Her support for vouchers and "school choice", her desire to funnel tax dollars to religious schools, and her belief that educating students with disabilities should not be a concern of the federal government, but rather an issue determined by the states, are equally disturbing.
Now more than ever, education is essential to our success as individuals and our success as a nation. And we must fight to ensure that all children, regardless of their socio-economic background, have access to quality public education.
At Garden State Equality we are doing that work by educating teachers and administrators, pressing for statewide protections for transgender students, LGBT-inclusive curriculum for K-12 schools, expansion of GSAs and other youth leadership programs, and intervention and advocacy for children facing bullying and harassment in their schools.
We can't do it without you, and now, more than ever, we need your help.
-Aaron Potenza, Director of Programs for Garden State Equality