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Letters: Grateful to D11 for parade 

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Profoundly grateful to Dr. Thomas
To the Editor:
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Thank you for recognizing Dr. Thomas on his inclusive and affirming action to bring a public school district into direct support of LGBTQ students, community members, educators and all who support them by walking in the Pride parade. As a former School Social Worker at Doherty High School (retired in May), I am profoundly grateful to him and to all of the staff, students, parents and others who stepped up (literally and figuratively) to actively affirm all of our LGBTQ individuals. Over my 31 years as a Clinical Social Worker (the last 8 years at Doherty) I have unfortunately witnessed firsthand the overt and/or covert condemnation, disenfranchisement, and intolerant attitudes toward students and staff who seek to live their lives with authenticity as LGBTQ human beings, from some who enjoy heterosexual privilege and rest comfortably in their intractable, personal belief systems. I have also witnessed firsthand the affirmative and inclusive treatment of LGBTQ students and staff by the vast majority of our school community. I was privileged to work with many students who were/are within the very broad spectrum of the non-heterosexual paradigm. All of our students seek to sustain integrity in their pursuit of an authentic identity. To do so, as LGBTQ human beings, throws down the gauntlet, as it were, of greater perils. Public schools are uniquely positioned to host a culture of physical, emotional and intellectual safety to all students. To do so, we must, as a school community, afford all of our students the opportunity to experience acceptance and safety as they contend with many levels of emerging and fixed identity. This mandate transcends our personal belief systems in order to encompass all students in a framework of safety.

Kim Stephens

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