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Opinion Queer students need the safe space school can be

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Regarding the Sept. 22 Metro article “Youngkin directive on trans students won’t stick, experts say”:

When I was a young queer person, school felt like the safest place for me, where I could be myself and discover who I was. I confided in teachers who supported me. I hid gender-nonconforming clothes in my backpack until I got to school to put them on. I stayed at school after classes as long as possible before I had to fit back into who I thought my parents wanted me to be.

That is why Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) school guidance on transgender students is concerning. If I hadn’t had that space to be myself, I’m not sure I would be here to write this letter today. Had those teachers been required to tell my parents I was queer, I wouldn’t have had the courage to return home at all, much less keep going to school.

Alexandria, Falls Church and Arlington will resist this order. I beg every district to follow suit. I understand Mr. Youngkin’s concern for parents. However, school isn’t for parents; it’s for the students. Students need to be able to bring their full selves to school not only to learn but also simply to live past the age of 18.

I was able to grow up, continue my education and become a physicist. My parents and I had time and space to love and accept each other. I literally survived because of school. I implore teachers to please protect their transgender and queer students. They are infinitely more important than any parent or governor.

J.M. Van Pelt, Burke

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