More Nebraska districts fire back at critics amid LGBTQ controversies

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — Several Nebraska school districts are defending their handling of LGBTQ issues amid growing controversies.

For the third time this week, a superintendent is responding to escalating debates involving everything from training to the books in schools.

Grand Island Public Schools is the latest district to address criticism, following comments by leaders in Lincoln and Kearney Public Schools.

Superintendent Tawana Grover said she wants students to know they can thrive at Grand Island campuses no matter their race, socioeconomic status or background.

She said the district supports and stands by its many students who are members of the LGBTQ community.

Grover said, “We cannot allow ourselves to thrust our students nor the meaningful impact of their thriving experiences into a political battleground.”

She stressed that every student has a right to be supported as they develop their emotional capacities and their own unique identities.

YWCA of Grand Island responded over social media to explain what they’re hearing it means to LGBTQ youth to have the support of their school.

Executive Director Amy Bennett pointed to a survey by the Trevor Project last year, which found that 45% of LGBTQ youth report having considered suicide.

“What they found was when they were in schools that supported them, and affirmed them as LGBTQ, that number was reduced,” Bennett said.

Earlier this week, former Senate candidate Matt Innis claimed Kearney Public Schools had LGBTQ books in its libraries that he says are sexually explicit.

Superintendent Jason Mundorf said the district has one of the books Innis mentioned, but not the others. Mundorf says the LGBTQ books they do have help students in their reality.

“We want to be sensitive to a lot of issues that come up,” he said. “We certainly want to support those students, those families. Sometimes the only relatability they have is through a fictional character they might read about through one of the stories, so that’s an important educational source.”

Kearney schools also have an option for parents to be contacted to give consent before their children check out books.

Grand Island schools have a similar process.

“One of the things that is really important for children, for all people, but especially for children, is to see themselves in the books and the school material that they learn and read from,” said Sara Rips, LGBTQIA+ legal and policy counsel for the ACLU.

The ACLU of Nebraska says these books can be important to students trying to get a better sense of self.

Nebraska superintendents have said they plan on keeping these conversations open as they work to support parents and the children within their districts.

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