The debate about whether and how LGBT issues should be discussed in schools has been quite a popular topic in many discussions, which you can say is due to current government laws being passed for the LGBT community.
With that said, as a student, I feel that younger children should be educated about this particular subject. It isn’t a hidden secret anymore; the LGBT community is stepping out and is constantly growing, especially in our society today. Children should be informed about this community, so as they grow up they could gain a better understanding and more of an open mind to the LGBT community and the issues that come with it.
With this on my mind, I wanted to get a broader perspective about this issue, so I thought it would be a great idea to speak to someone who works within the school system and who can give me a better understanding about this debate.
I had the opportunity to speak to Mr. Charles Epps, who is the current Superintendent of Jersey City Public Schools. He brought up many important factors about the issue in the very little time we spoke.
R: Mr. Epps what are your personal views on the debate about whether and how LGBT issues should be discussed in schools?
C: There is no debate. I want people to understand that it’s 2011, there have always been homosexuals and although they might not be as open as they are now, they have always been around. It makes no sense to me that we have to educate people about this particular community for them to accept them. But if that’s what we have to do, then it will be done. I’m a strong believer in equality and if in 2011 we have to educate our young students about equality, then so be it.
R: Do you believe children are open to discussing such issues? Why or why not?
C: In our society today children are exposed to pretty much anything and everything. Although, this may be a tough issue to present to young children, especially because children have a strong influence from their parents, if presented the right way it can be very beneficial. I realize that not all children are going to understand such issues and may not immediately accept this particular community or they may not accept them at all but knowing that I have made strides in educating these young children is all that matters to me. I made an effort to make a change and although it may not be comprehended the way I want it to be, I’m ok with that because I can never say that I never tried.
R: It has been all over the news that LGBT students in schools are being bullied for there sexual preference; do you believe if children were to be educated about this particular community at an early age, it will lesson the acts of violence in schools?
C: In terms of violence I never know what’s next. If I could, I would stop all violence in schools. Children are in schools to learn not to hurt one another. Like I have stated before I am a strong believer that education is the cause of change. I believe that the more we educate children about this issue the more they will have an open mind, or at least I hope so. No one knows what the future holds but as an educator I work very hard to make a difference in the lives of my students, especially for there future. I only hope that what I instill in them today, they will take with them to there future.
R: In your years as a member of the Jersey City School District, have you seen an increase in violence towards students that are and may be homosexual?
C: To be honest no. We have never had an incident where a student was abused for there homosexuality, which I’m proud of. I don’t want a child to be teased for who they are. Everyone should be treated equally regardless of his or her sexual preference.
R: How do you see the future of public schools, in terms of discussing such issues?
C: In terms of the future of Jersey City’s Public Schools, I plan on preparing my teachers in teaching our young students about this issue. I believe that this should be discussed in the classroom because it’s such a huge part of our society. I know this may be a process but it is a process I am willing to take. I believe that this will only turn for the better. Not only for my school district but especially for my students.
That concludes my interview with Mr. Charles Epps. I hope this has helped some of you gain a better understanding about this particular issue. Please understand, although that Mr. Epps is very open about discussing such issues within his school district that is not the case for others.
I can only hope that one day our young children can be educated about such issues because I only see a positive outcome from it.
Thanks guys! Until next time …
Peace Love and Rainbows,