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As shocking anti-LGBTQ bills progress in legislatures across the country, LGBTQ kids are stepping up to advocate for awareness, equity and inclusion at the local level: in their schools. Among them is Sam Moyle, rising senior at Lakeshore High School in Stevensville, and incoming president of Prism, the school’s GSA, this fall.

In March, when a Lakeshore teacher posted an acid, inaccurate comment on Facebook about teachers’ bathrooms being repurposed for the sole use of “one or two” trans students – and others chimed in with comments suggesting violent means of addressing that situation – students, teachers and graduates were shocked. Moyle and other LGBTQ students at the school were frustrated – and scared.

“There was a lot of talk and not a lot of action,” following the incident, Sam recalled. After a brief suspension, the teacher returned to the school. “It sparked the realization of how uncomfortable trans students in particular are at Lakeshore. It seems like the comfort of the majority of students is prioritized over providing respect and security for LGBTQ students,” Moyle said.

Recalling a presentation that OutCenter executive director MaryJo Schnell made to the school about inclusion and diversity, Moyle emailed her a letter and then picked up the phone and called her to ask for help. “Seeing my friends really upset – that upset me a lot,” Moyle recalled. “That made me take action. It came from the anguish of a lot of other people.

“I wanted adult support beyond our small group and our advisor. I wanted to see if there was someone who cared about the situation and could help us somehow better understand the community in which this was allowed to happen,” Moyle said.

Schnell talked to the administration. She also helped GSA members understand the origins of transphobia and possible steps the GSA could take to be more visible and seen.

While the school superintendent told the Herald-Palladium of his plan to form, by the end of the school year, a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leadership Team including staff, students, board members, parents and community members, Moyle said they waiting for visible effort and establishment of the team in the community and at Lakeshore High School.

Moyle is looking forward to being back in “real” in-person rather than virtual school this fall. And they hope they and their peers can find ways to make LGBTQ students seen and respected by teachers, staff and their peers.

“Once teachers and staff recognize and respect LGBTQ kids the other students will, too,” Moyle said. Her hopes for the year?

Her top goal: “Creating a community where hate speech and bullying is not tolerated,” Moyle said. “Right now there is a lot of fear about speaking up,” they said. “I would love it if more students would speak up about things they are concerned about or things they feel should change, and communicate that to the administration.

The more people who come forward and speak about these issues, “The better things will get,” Moyle said.

“The real hindrance to acceptance and respect at Lakeshore is the devaluing of

LGBTQ+ voices.”

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