State Advocacy - ​​​​​
Mandating Change to Ensure Accountability

Sadly, many state-level changes are often reactive instead of preventative. The increasing rate of adolescent suicide is occurring across the nation. Some places are markedly worse than others, such as Utah which is 140% up over the past four years!!! This shocking and quite terrifying rise reflects a HUGE need for efforts to shift this. State level change must happen to ensure accountability and safety for ALL youth.

Two areas of importance for state-level work:


State Legislature -- creates/mandates changes to the law



State School Board/State Office of Education 

-- implements the law  and mandates/governs the school district processes for following the law




State School Boards or State Offices of Education:

These are the people designated with the responsibility to ensure that school districts in a given state are following state laws. Each school district in the state is accountable to them. Often they are the group who interprets the law, creates policy and decides specifically how they will/can be implemented in schools.

If any given state does not allocate or prioritize funding for a department which gathers data, analyzes training quality, and ensures that schools are implementing practices which ensure all students are kept safe -  this is likely a case of voluntary compliance as is the case in Utah.

Without funding for an oversight department/position - schools will not truly have accountability. Thus as is to often the case, many will continue to sweep issues under the rug, such as bullying, suicide, mental health and the risks faced by LGBTQIA youth. 

For a year, the Utah State Board of Education ignored my requests to discuss specific problems in the schools around bullying, discrimination, lgbtqia high risks, and the connection of these to the rapidly rising rate of adolescent suicide. To read my final letter which resulted in a panel discussion and some efforts toward change, click the link below. Or listen to the interview with Molly Marcello with KZMU Moab regarding my participation in the discussion with the State School Board. 













            



















​​CHANGE within the State Legislature:


Any State that has a predominant religion Often has a higher rate of adolescent suicide and are often less willing to address the issues faced by LGBTQIA youth. This is because the discrimination rooted in their religion (regardless of words to the contrary) which results in institutionalized discrimination as we have in Utah, and which exists in many other states such as Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, and others.  This does not mean they are evil or their faith is evil, however, it does mean that engaging them in a discussion about protecting all youth may be harder. Keep at it! Don't give up! Something that all religions share is the belief in God's love and God's love is NOT conditional. Remind them to look into their hearts and find the love necessary to protect ALL children - all parents love their children and deserve their protection. 


To change the law, you will need a group of parents who have either lost children to suicide, had a child suffer because of bullying/violence and how it was handled, or had a child who suffered discrimination (for anything - including being LGBTQIA). This can and should be a collective voice. Creating coalitions of parents, youth and any community members who care, can have an impact. 


Before doing anything, search for and connect with LGBTQIA advocacy groups in your state. Go to the link above to find groups in your state. Connect with them to participate in the larger group effort for change. 

Unfortunately, the law is slow to respond and often hindered by the prevailing culture in any given area. More on this as I learn and navigate through the process myself. I will also be blogging and offering podcasts around this issue.














      





    



     
 
  





Final Letter to State Office of Education
State Office of Education
Link to Contact for each State
KZMU Interview 
Steps To Create Change
State Offices of Education
Letter To Governor and Lt. Gov
Re: TASK FORCE

Family Equality Council
State Bills
EQUALITY UTAH
Letter to Legislator

Find an Advocacy Group
in Your State

Find Your Represenatives 
link to  each state
US SENATE/HOUSE
link to each state