In a controversial decision, the school board in Lynchburg, Virginia, has rejected a $10,000 grant from the It Gets Better Foundation. The decision was made in a 7-2 vote, amidst concerns raised by some residents and board members about the foundation’s LGBTQ+ connections.
Concerns Over LGBTQ+ Influence
The grant, intended for the creation of a “quiet room” at a local high school, sparked debate due to its association with the It Gets Better Foundation. This organization, co-founded by Dan Savage, aims to support LGBTQ+ youth and prevent suicide. However, some Lynchburg residents, including a grandparent and guardian of a district student, expressed apprehension, viewing the grant as an endorsement of an “LGBTQ agenda” in schools.
Board Members Divided
The proposed quiet room was designed to offer a space for student self-regulation, featuring amenities like flexible seating, sensory devices, and non-intrusive lighting. Despite these benefits, board members like Christian DePaul and Randall Trost voiced objections. DePaul cited his findings about the foundation, while Trost was wary of the perceived “strings attached” to the grant, including the requirement to acknowledge the LGBTQ+ organization.
Alternative Funding Plans
Despite rejecting the grant from the It Gets Better Foundation, the school board recognized the value of the quiet room. They agreed to explore alternative funding within the school district’s budget. Board Chair Atul Gupta emphasized the importance of meeting students’ needs, suggesting that the board should find the necessary funds and move forward.
This incident in Lynchburg, home to the evangelical Liberty University, highlights ongoing tensions around LGBTQ+ issues in educational settings. The rejection of the grant raises questions about how schools navigate support for student mental health while addressing diverse community views on LGBTQ+ matters. The board’s decision to seek alternative funding for the quiet room reflects a compromise, balancing the need for student support with local sensitivities.