Montgomery County Public Schools is hosting an annual “Pride Town Hall” on May 20, 2023, at Walter Johnson High School. The district explains in the agenda of the town hall that “students who attend will receive 3.5 SSL hours.” The school district explains more about “SSL hours” on its website: “Student Service Learning (SSL) is a Maryland state graduation requirement. Students must earn 75 SSL hours to graduate from high school and can start earning SSL hours the summer after grade 5.” The district is promoting the LGBTQ town hall as an event that students can attend to help fulfill a graduation requirement.
The town hall has “activities for elementary students” that include “learning about LGBTQIA+ icons, coloring, read-alouds and discussion led by MCPS staff members and high school student volunteers.” The keynote speaker is a person who identifies as a “transgender, autistic woman.” There will also be an area for secondary students with “affirmations.” The district explains in the agenda:
This is a space dedicated to students having the opportunity to connect with one another and foster relationships with students around MCPS. The time will open with a talk given by Lee Blinder (they/them) on resilience and be followed by a youth-focused trivia game led by Robin Lombard (she/her). Additionally, the room will be provisioned with LGBTQIA+-affirming materials like affirmations, Queer icon coloring books and journaling prompts.
The town hall will have workshops. One is titled “Supporting Your Child in Navigating Dating.” The description states that the workshop is “a learning opportunity for parents and caregivers.” The description continues to explain: “In this space, we will learn how to nurture healthy and safe relationships for LGBTQ+ youth.”
Another workshop is titled “Transitioning in MCPS” and is about “busting myths about transition and gender affirming care.” An additional workshop is titled “Getting a Rainbow Club started in Elementary School.” The goal of this workshop is to discuss how to start LGBTQ clubs in elementary schools for young children.
Other workshops at the town hall are titled “Strategies for Supporting Children of LGBTQ+ Families,” “MCPS Staff P.R.I.D.E. Group,” “Inclusivity in MCPS Athletics,” and “Supporting your LGBTQIA+ children: From the Mouths of Middle Schoolers.” The “MCPS Staff P.R.I.D.E. Group” appears to be an affinity group. The description of the workshop states: “This professional and social group consists of MCPS staff who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community.”
The “Supporting your LGBTQIA+ children: From the Mouths of Middle Schoolers” workshop has middle school students personally speak about LGBTQ issues.