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Seattle Might Rename One of Their Schools After Marsha P. Johnson

Marsha P. Johnson

In a unanimous vote, the Seattle School Board passed a resolution during Pride month that would support the health and wellness of LGBTQ+ students through school policies.

According to the Seattle Times, the school district is considering several measures as part of this resolution, including cultivating LGBTQ+ culture and identity in its curriculums, requiring all-gender bathrooms in any new school construction projects, prioritizing LGBTQ+ sensitivity training to teachers and other staff, and renaming one school.

The renaming of the school is likely to be a yearlong process and so far a handful of schools have expressed interest — including Mercer Middle School and Stevens Elementary School, the Board’s out gay president, Zachary DeWolf, told the Seattle Times.

While there have been several names of LGBTQ+ pioneers thrown in the ringer as possible replacement names, two have specifically stuck out, according to DeWolf: Marsha P. Johnson, the beloved trans activist who was at the forefront of queer liberation, and Cheryl Chow, a former Seattle Board member and principal who came out as gay in her 60s.

As part of the resolution, the school district is also required to report on how many gender-inclusive bathrooms they have across all its schools so they can “brainstorm possibilities” to create inclusive restrooms in existing buildings.

Furthermore, any new curriculum for English or social studies must include milestone such as the Compton Cafeteria riots, the Stonewall Rebellion, the 1987 Second National March on Washington, and the accomplishments of prominent LGBTQ+ people.

The resolution itself was crafted based on research that shows affirming queer identity in schools helps prevent LGBTQ+ youth from suffering harassment, bulling, and self-harm.

Another policy the resolution would include is the option of marking “X” as a gender for nonbinary students as well as the right for trans students to be called by their preferred pronouns and to use locker rooms associated with their gender.

“People assume that institutions will be good on their own, but unless we write it into policy, it won’t happen,” said DeWolf, who introduced the resolution to the Board after meeting with local activists and student leaders. “If we just assume everyone is feeling the same way, there is a lot of room for people to feel invisible, unseen, by curriculum.”

It is yet unclear when the district is required to report back to the school board about the progress of the resolution's goals, but DeWolf said it will likely be early fall. 

Tags: News, Education

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