School counselors are supposed to be at the disposal of all students — there to help kids navigate their emotions, puberty, school issues, bullying, home issues, and whatever else may arise. However, in some school districts, school counselors are strictly forbidden from “addressing the fears and challenges of [their] lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer students out loud,” and that’s not okay.
Upworthy recently shared the story of a school counselor named William* (name changed for his protection), who works in one such school district. Despite his school district’s restrictions, William works to show the LGBTQ+ students that he does support them in such a way that wouldn’t prevent him from losing his job. In one-on-one meetings, he uses the word “partner.” He also put up a sign that said “You identity is not an issue,” a subtle message he hopes reaches gender non-conforming students.
It might be that some are wondering why William needs to show his support to the LGBTQ+ students. According to him, following Trump’s inauguration, he now hears homophobic or transphobic slurs more often than ever — and not from students — but from his own colleagues!
“The sad part is I can’t be as loud as they can be without getting in trouble,” he says.
That’s not even mentioning how many LGBTQ students are subjected to bullying from their peers while in school, or the fear that many have that Trump will roll back the few remaining protections that they have.
School counselors aren’t the only ones prevented from supporting their students. Right now there are eight states that restrict how teachers discuss some LGBTQ topics in school.
Though William’s experience isn’t that of all counselors, it’s a shame that it is for many in his school district and in hundreds of others school districts around the state. Let it sink in just a bit more — schools are specifically targeting one group of students (Kids!) with official policies, policies that prevent them from being supported by their school counselors — a job that is paid by public taxes from the parents of those children.
However, horrid these policies are, Williams and many others are still fighting to send a message to their LGBTQ+ students and for that we are thankful. They are letting these youth know that they are there, they will listen, and they support them.