RPS and Side By Side worked together in order to make school a more inclusive place for Richmond’s LGBTQ students.
At last Monday’s meeting of the School Board for Richmond Public Schools, the school district presented the first draft of a revision to the school system’s Student Code of Responsible Ethics (SCORE). And one of the most important changes presented as part of that draft was a passage specifically intended to give LGBTQ RPS students a boost.
In his May 21 newsletter, RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras acknowledged the help of Side By Side, the youth-focused LGBTQ advocacy organization, in drafting the SCORE’s new language. “I want to thank Side by Side for their partnership on the SCORE revision,” he wrote. “It’s been invaluable.”
Kamras referred to the LGBTQ-related passages added to the SCORE as “language specifically designed to affirm and embrace our LGBTQ+ students.” He specifically quoted an addition to the policy’s statement about dress code: “Administration and enforcement of the dress code will be consistent across the student body, regardless of actual or perceived gender identity or sexual orientation, gender expression, race, ethnicity, and body size and/or type.”
During the school board meeting, Side By Side Executive Director Ted Lewis spoke about the need for the policy to also contain a chosen-name policy and an inclusive bathroom policy, in order to “ensure all our RPS students are affirmed in their identity,” according to a facebook status posted by Side By Side on Tuesday. “We are grateful for the support of Superintendent Kamras on making these needed changes to school policy,” Side By Side stated in the post.
In his newsletter, Kamras stated that the chosen-name policy would be added to the current revision of RPS’s SCORE, and said that the inclusive bathroom policy was something the administration would “work on developing policies for… over the course of the 2019-20 school year.”
“The very least we can do when our students come to us every day is ensure they feel welcomed and loved for who they are,” Kamras stated. “I am committed to ensuring that RPS is a national leader on this front.”