In 2022, the “It Gets Better Project” allowed schools to “apply for up to $10,000 in grant funding to support school-based projects empowering LGBTQ+ students.” The project was called “50 States. 50 Grants. 5000 Voices.” The organization specifically pointed out that “grant funding” even went to schools in “traditionally conservative areas.” Putnam City North High School is a school that applied for a grant and received a full $10,000. The “It Gets Better Project” stated:
We are so excited to finally be able to announce all of the grant recipients, with each school receiving the full $10,000 in funding. Fifty grants are being awarded in 40 states plus Washington D.C., including many traditionally conservative areas. Submissions were received from a wide range of small rural towns, average-sized suburbs, and large urban cities.
The organization claimed that these grants were made available to schools thanks to the “generous support of American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. (AEO) through American Eagle and Aerie customer donations from all 50 states via their Real Rewards loyalty program, as well as in-store pin-pad promotion during Pride Month 2021.” In reference to Putnam City North High School, the “It Gets Better Project” stated that the grant will be used to “expand the reach of the school GSA.”
The “It Gets Better Project” is an organization that promotes LGBTQ issues to children. The organization states that its mission is “to uplift, empower, and connect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) youth around the globe.” This includes through “storytelling and media.” The organization explains: “We work in all forms of media to bring messages of hope to LGBTQ+ youth, spark conversations about the challenges they confront, and inform and positively influence their sexual orientation and gender identity journey.”
Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) clubs are student organizations throughout America’s schools that act as platforms to allow students to support and push LGBTQ issues while at school and in the local community. The GSA Network helps students start GSA clubs and describes these clubs as “student-run organizations that unite LGBTQ+ and allied youth to build community and organize around issues impacting them in their schools and communities.” The GSA Network further explains that the organization “is a next-generation LGBTQ racial and gender justice organization that empowers and trains queer, trans and allied youth leaders to advocate, organize, and mobilize an intersectional movement for safer schools and healthier communities.”
The school’s district – Putnam City Schools – appeared to update its “Civil Rights Policy” to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity and expression” as protected classes in 2021. Students and employees can now file a complaint “alleging that a policy, procedure, or practice of District discriminates on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, national origin, disability, religion, age, or veteran status.”
In the minutes of a Board of Education meeting dated September 20, 2021, the director of programming for the Freedom Oklahoma organization reportedly “expressed gratitude to the district for updating the civil rights policy.” Freedom Oklahoma is a political organization that pushes LGBTQ issues in Oklahoma, including in the education system. The organization additionally targets the “youth” with resources regarding “coming out,” GSA clubs, and transgender issues.
The school district’s website has a page titled “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion” that promotes a “District Equity Coordinator.” This page appears to have a designated project for each month. The page celebrates “National Volunteer Month” in April by asking volunteers to “fight for equality and social justice.” For March, the page promotes “intersectional feminism.”