Pride town hall gives LGBTQ+ community a platform during COVID-19 crisis

Panelists discuss ways families can support  LGBTQ+ students at the town hall held on May 27.

Zoe Cantor

Panelists discuss ways families can support LGBTQ+ students at the town hall held on May 27.

By Zoe Cantor

MCPS administrators hosted a virtual Pride Town Hall on May 27, their second-ever LGBTQ+ public forum, to discuss strides taken by the LGBTQ+ community in Montgomery County. 

Following the forum, the speakers held a question and answer session to address issues that disproportionately affect the LGBTQ+ community caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

MCPS Student Welfare and Compliance Unit Director Greg Edmundson moderated the town hall, which included Montgomery County councilmember Evan Glass and representatives from local Pride organizations. 

Edmundson highlighted the efforts of certain educators in the county who have promoted the acceptance of LGBTQ+ students, including Deputy Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight.

McKnight outlined the measures to make MCPS a more inclusive space, including an LGBTQ+ studies course in development to be launched during the 20202021 school year. 

“The progress we’ve made is because of our students, staff and community members,” McKnight said. “[They] have pushed us to become an even better school system.” 

Participants used the subsequent question and answer session to address the needs of LGBTQ+ students and their families in the midst of the pandemic. 

“Although all our students are experiencing isolation, there is this compounding impact of being LGBTQ+,” said MoCo Pride organizer Uma Fox. “For many students, it often means they’re not in a household affirming their gender or sexuality.” 

Many LGBTQ+ students feel safer at school than in their own homes, Fox said, which can make the months of quarantine a daunting task.

Glass praised MCPS’ progress in increasing awareness of LGBTQ+ issues, including the county’s hate bias initiative.

“To live in this community and to know we have this network available to us is wonderful,” Glass said. “Quite frankly, it’s beautiful.”