OP-Ed: Submitted By a Battle Born Mom
Do we have fair and balanced representation on the WCSD sex education SHARE committee? Based on my parental experience, I would argue no.
Tomorrow, at the August 24, 2021 Board of Trustees meeting, agenda item 2.12 lists two SHARE Advisory Committee candidates for appointment - Vanessa Vancour and Stephanie Shuman. This seems benign at face value, but there is a problem here.
I have applied to the SHARE Advisory Committee for a parent position for three years running and have been denied three times. In no way do I believe that an application and interview alone signifies the right to be selected, but I am passionate about ensuring this committee has a balanced perspective. All voices in the community should have a proportionate representation when deciding what to teach our children in sexual health and reproduction. Consider that LGBTQ Nevada youth, within the ages of 13-17, represent roughly 6%* or less of our student population. We should have 94% of our students being represented by committee members who write curriculum reflecting the needs of that portion of the student population. Why does so much of our representation and curriculum seem out-of-balance with the needs of our WCSD students?
As an engaged parent and member of the district, I have started to see a year-over-year pattern in the SHARE Advisory Committee selections that is alarming to me. This latest selection of Vanessa Vancour seems to validate this pattern. She is a very public and vocal advocate for LGBTQ rights, teaching gender fluidity and demanding progressive transformation of WCSD SHARE curriculum. She hasn’t been the only Committee member with this lean. My concern is balance and fair representation. If she is the selection being placed before the Board of Trustees for consent vote tomorrow, is the other candidate - Stephanie Shuman - leaning the other direction?
SHARE Committee - an Exclusive Club?
From an outsider perspective, the SHARE Advisory Committee seems like an exclusive club that only like-minded individuals can break into. As a conservative, but reasonable parent, I have felt shut out of sharing any voice because they don’t want dissenting opinions. Those writing the curriculum have an agenda and need to push that agenda through. Another example of this was during the May 25, 2021 Board of Trustees meeting. The agenda item 2.08 had the board consent vote on four of the existing SHARE Advisory Committee members to be reappointed without even opening their positions to the public — though their terms were over. This was for two parent positions, a religion position and a counseling position. There should have been more opportunities for new parents and community members to get on the committee to serve. You can see where it starts to feel like a shutout.
We can’t give up. We need to share our concerns with the Board of Trustees. Let them know further consideration should be made on the balance of the SHARE Advisory Committee and additional research done on their proposed appointees.
HOW CAN YOU HELP TIP THE BALANCE?
Email your trustees or go to tomorrow’s Board Meeting and share your voice. Want to learn how? Visit this article on making your voice heard in WCSD.
Keep applying for any open WCSD Share Advisory Committee positions and watch what is happening with SHARE here.
* Source: data compiled from Conron, K.J. LGBT Youth Population in the United States. (September 2020). The Williams Institute, UCLA, Los Angeles and the Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau. September 2020.
We are moms, dads, grandparents, guardians and community members fighting for parental rights, exemplary education and fair representation within Nevada's Washoe County School District.