Don Riggs, a teacher from Logan, Ohio, testified that affirming the identity of LGBTQ+ students has made a huge difference in their lives. (Ohio Channel)

An Ohio teacher’s impassioned speech supporting LGBTQ+ students has won hearts online as the state board of education tries to push anti-trans policies in the area.

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Don Riggs, an educator with more than three decades of experience, testified against the Ohio Board of Education’s resolution, which would go directly against the U.S. Department of Education’s recommendations. Expand federal protections against discrimination against trans students.

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Riggs said she has “many trans and non-binary students” in her classes and noted how many students told her she provided a “safe space” for LGBTQ+ kids to be “their authentic selves.”

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“They’ve shared stories outside of my classroom with classmates, other teachers, family members about the traumas they were dealing with,” Riggs said.

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“They’ve told me about their bites. They’ve told me about their suicidal thoughts, their depression and anxiety, and their wish to disappear.

Don Riggs Testifies Against Ohio State Board of Education's Anti-Trans, Anti-LGBTQ+ Proposal
Don Riggs urged the Ohio Board of Education to oppose “this hateful and misguided” proposal, which would exclude LGBTQ+ students from their families. (Ohio Channel)

Riggs said it made a “difference” to students when they could walk into her classroom knowing they would be called by their chosen names and pronouns that “reflected their lived experience.” do”.

“Even if another adult in their life didn’t confirm their identity, they knew they would be safe at least for a little while each day,” she said.

She added that it is “not a burden” to use the name or pronoun that a student prefers, adding: “You wouldn’t blink if your friend William asked you to call him Billy.”

“The only difference between these examples and those who oppose this harmful resolution is that the gender of a student is not what you would expect it to be,” Riggs said.

‘I request you to oppose this hateful rhetoric’

Riggs also criticized the Ohio Board of Education for considering a “scary” proposal that would allow schools to transfer students to their parents — if their families are unwilling to confirm their gender identity. If so, it could potentially put them in a dangerous situation.

“Our students should be able to choose the time and manner in which they share their transition and with whom,” Riggs said. “It is not our place to force them to do so. I urge you to oppose this hateful and misleading rhetoric.

Several people praised Riggs for her passionate advocacy for LGBTQ+ students and for taking a stand against the hateful proposal.

The Ohio board opposes a federal law requiring schools to investigate claims of discrimination based on s*xual orientation or gender identity. Schools can risk losing funding if they don’t comply with the law.

The US Department of Education said this. can add Instances where someone does not use the correct student pronoun. A trans student is being denied the ability to use facilities that correspond to their gender; or a student is prohibited from playing a sport because of their gender identity.

Parker Parker, a student who plays field hockey at Olentangy High School, said the resolution “bandage” Trans students “segregate” them for their “humanity” and just wanting to be themselves.

“If you ban me from the sport I love, I will lose a piece of my life. …If you take away my right to use the men’s restroom, I will experience disgust. Will do,” Parker said.

“I would get stared at and laughed at by girls because I didn’t look like them.”

A vote on the resolution is expected at the Ohio State Board of Education’s next meeting Oct. 11-12.

Readers affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritan toll-free on 116 123.www.samaritans.orgor Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the US are encouraged to contact us. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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