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LGBTQ+ People Are Running for School Board Seats in Historic Numbers

Elections Ahead

The number of out LGBTQ+ people running for school board seats has doubled since 2018.

As school boards vote to limit access to LGBTQ-themed books, an advocacy group has found that more LGBTQ+ people are running for school board positions than ever before.

Data released by the LGBTQ Victory Fund, a national political organization that works to elect LGBTQ+ people to public office, shows that 82 out people are seeking school board seats. That's more than double the number in 2018, while in 2020 the number was 43.

As of April, only 90 of the 90,000 school board members in the United States had been known to be out LGBTQ+ people, according to the Victory Fund-affiliated Victory Institute's "Few & Under Fire: LGBTQ School Board Members in the U.S." national report about the state of LGBTQ+ representation on school boards across the country.

Victory Fund reported that of the LGBTQ+ school board members surveyed 47 percent had been the target of anti-LGBTQ+ verbal attacks as a candidate, and 51 percent had been the target of anti-LGBTQ+ verbal attacks as a school board member. The group also found that 17 percent of respondents had been the target of anti-LGBTQ+ verbal attacks from a fellow member of their school board.

In a press release, the vice president of political programs for the LGBTQ Victory Institute, Sean Meloy, explained the importance of these candidacies.

"From book bans to 'don't say gay' bills, bigots like Ron DeSantis made schools ground zero for their war on LGBTQ equality this year. But their strategy has backfired -- their hate has motivated a historic wave of LGBTQ people to run for school boards this year," Meloy said.

There have been more than twice as many out LGBTQ+ school board candidates as there have been in recent years. In addition, most LGBTQ+ school board candidates are men of color, with white women coming in second. While the number of cisgender lesbian, gay, and bisexual representatives has increased, the number of transgender candidates has decreased, the report notes.

Meloy said he is heartened by LGBTQ+ candidates' engagement this election cycle.

"These candidates have shown great courage and compassion as they've navigated homophobia and transphobia," he said. "Our best line of defense to combat harmful school policy is to elect more LGBTQ people to school boards than ever before. It's time to call the bigots' bluff by refusing to sit on the sidelines this November."

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