Statement about Cocopah Middle School GSA Club and Scottsdale Unified School District
Statement from Carol Tappenden, Interim Chapter Manager, GLSEN Phoenix
“Across the country, we are seeing a wave of anti-LGBTQ+ attacks and rhetoric at the state level and in school boards. The recent attack against the Scottsdale Unified School District and Cocopah Middle School’s GSA Club is an example of targeting affirming and inclusive activities in schools that can have a positive effect on not only Scottsdale’s LGBTQ+ students and educators, but to all students.
“For the last two decades, GLSEN programs and Chapters, including GLSEN Phoenix, have been grounded in research and evaluation on LGBTQ+ issues in K-12 education. Research shows that participation in GSAs, like the club at Cocopah Middle School, is related to stronger school connectedness for LGBTQ+ youth, and regardless of whether LGBTQ+ students themselves participate in their school’s GSA, just having a GSA in their school can create a more positive school climate for all students.”
“Assaults and attacks against LGBTQ+ students—their extracurricular activities like GSAs, curricula and books with LGBTQ+ history and experiences—sends a message that they are not valid or welcome at their own school, which can be mentally and physically harmful for young people without access to strong support systems. We know LGBTQ+ youth are more likely to consider suicide than their peers, and experience other mental health crises, which intensifies this kind of stigma and harassment.
“Every school district, including Scottsdale Unified School District, has a responsibility to foster an inclusive school climate, and must take swift action to ensure that every student is protected from harassment and discrimination through comprehensive, enumerated nondiscrimination protections.”
“GLSEN Phoenix commends the Scottsdale Unified School District, Superintendent Dr. Scott A. Menzel, and educators for their unwavering support for inclusion, reaffirming the power of belonging in schools, and celebrating Scottsdale’s diverse student population.”