Time to Update Kalispell Schools’ Non-Discrimination Policy

When it comes to the safety of our youth, we can’t afford to wait

By Paige Rappleye

As the Kalispell School Board considers updating their non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, I wanted to voice my support for this important policy.

There will be another public meeting later this month to discuss the proposed changes, and it is my hope that the school board chooses to save lives and to stand on the right side of history by updating their policy quickly and without delay.

I am a mother myself, and I know how important it is to me that my children are able to get a quality education. My children have occasionally been bullied due to special needs or religious differences. Sometimes these have been dealt with appropriately and sometimes ignored by staff. I also teach an inclusive sex-ed class and the lack of knowledge and support in many of schools for our LGBT students is alarming. For parents of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students, there is the added anxiety and fear that comes from not knowing if your child will be bullied, harassed, or discriminated against at school.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity/expression in the school district’s policy. This act not only makes LGBT students less vulnerable, it also provides teachers and administrators the necessary support to intervene. As a result, everyone is held more accountable.

Perhaps most importantly, this policy change would signal to LGBT students that they matter and are an integral and important part of the student body. It would create a safer and more welcoming school environment not just for LGBT students, but for all youth in the Kalispell school district.

When it comes to the safety of our youth, we can’t afford to wait.

Paige Rappleye

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