November 3, 2017

Guest Post: Legislative Assembly – A Student Advocate Experience

By Skylar Pfeil, Inglemoor High School PTSA 6.10.75

Preparing for Legislative Assembly I was honestly afraid and nervous about this new experience. After my mom and I arrived, everything seemed to move along at a fast pace. At the first general assembly, we learned about how the voting would work and the process to use the microphones – for, against, and point-of-order. Then we were off to lunch and our classes. In the LGBTQ Inclusion Resolution Q&A caucus class, I operated the PowerPoint slideshow. Having the task helped calmed down my nervousness, and later I was able to answer student relevant questions with confidence. It was a good feeling to be a student representative and share my voice on the issues and concerns impacting LGBTQ student campus culture and issues, and community-related concerns being discussed. Those who attended seemed to appreciate the student perspective and input. I also made rainbow ribbons to share for people to wear and take home.

The debate of resolutions and issues was both interesting to hear and watch, there isn’t much like it that I’ve ever seen before. It moved along at such a fast pace, it would be hard for a student to be involved in if unpracticed. So, I say practice if you plan to go! When our resolution came up for a vote, I held my breath, I felt sick, and then it passed by majority vote! Such a good feeling! The resolution was renamed, and is now known as the LGBTQ+ Inclusion resolution, the first LGBTQ+ supportive position for WSPTA in the organization’s history! PTA has made such a difference in my life, with a number of unexpected experiences, sharing in this blog being one of them. Another time PTA made a difference in my life – PTA leaders came to support me and my family at a school board meeting with a policy request. Their unexpected support and acceptance fostered my self-confidence to later use my voice, and my pen, to make a direct change in a more inclusive, new Diversity and Equity Policy that my school district eventually adopted. Now other PTA’s in Washington can support LGBTQ+ students in meaningful ways.

I feel it’s important that PTA and PTSA members know the experiences I’ve had as a student of the LGBTQ culture are much like many other students in our state. I have learned to live in tolerance. Tolerance of the daily dose of hate and bias filled words in passing, in classes, and in between classes. It becomes a sort of norm, an expected experience, hard to ignore and shake it off after a while. Those words are like dings, they take their accumulative toll and became more like bruises, then like deeper blows only you can feel the hurt of and endure. Many can’t help being pushed into depression, or think of not having to experience any of it anymore. It’s hard to not become all the statistics, I became many of them myself. What makes a positive difference, and what made a difference in my life is having a supportive accepting network, at home, in my school, and in my community, and my state. This resolution will make that difference for all of Washington’s children. If one student or family doesn’t have to learn to tolerate and endure hate and bias, or harassment, intimidation, bullying, and violence, then we together will have encouraged a positive change to foster a healthier society rich and full in compassion and acceptance.Thank you.

Editor’s note: WSPTA thanks Skylar for his very honest portrayal of his experiences and appreciates that he feels WSPTA is a safe place to speak freely. LGBTQ+ Inclusion is now resolution 2.19 and can be found in the Board Positions and Resolutions document located on our website as well as information on how to be an effective advocate.

Category: Advocacy , Events

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