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Community reacts after Grain Valley Schools orders teachers to remove LGBTQ safe space stickers

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Jodi Fortino
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KCUR
A homemade sign held up during a protest last Friday shows support for the LGBTQ community.

LGBTQ safe space signs may just seem like a sticker to a lot of students, activist Justice Horn says. "But to a lot of queer students, this is their world. It means a lot."

Dozens of people on Friday protested a decision by the Grain Valley School District to order its teachers to remove LGBTQ safe space stickers from their classrooms.

Although the district said its goal was "for every classroom to be a safe place for all students, not just in classrooms where teachers chose to display a particular sign," many parents, students and teachers were outraged by the move.

Tara Powell, a mother of a student at the school, says she spoke with teachers and parents who were deeply offended. But she also says she sees an opportunity for the school district to make things right.

"Personally, if I were in charge, I think some diversity training for everyone would be beneficial," Powell says. "The message needs to come across that just because someone is different than you it doesn't mean they're less than you, and they don't deserve to feel safe."

Justice Horn, an activist who is seeking a seat on the Jackson County Legislature, was once a student in the Grain Valley School District. Horn identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community and says the environment for people like him was difficult when he attended Grain Valley schools a decade ago.

"From being bullied because of my sexual orientation, my race... as well as, y'know, I was just different from the Grain Valley community then," Horn says. "It drove me... so much that I felt alone, that I even attempted to take my own life."

LGBTQ safe space signs may just seem like a sticker to a lot of students, Horn says.

"But to a lot of queer students, this is their world. It means a lot."

  • Tara Powell, mother of Grain Valley Schools student
  • Justice Horn, activist, political candidate, former Grain Valley Schools student
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