That’s right Visalia; it looks like we finally have an ally within our local schools. On Sunday, at the monthly PFLAG meeting, Dr. Craig Wheaton joined us as the guest speaker. He is the Superintendent of Visalia Unified School District, the big guy. Simply the fact that he came was epic. It shows our community that he cares about us, too. That he’s concerned about the issues affecting our LGBT youth and those of us LGBT parents with kids in school.
Dr. Wheaton certainly got an ear full from us. Many situations and circumstances he was unaware of. For example, he didn’t realize that only 2 of our 4 high schools have a GSA and only 1 of those GSA’s is highly active (GWHS). Also, that The Trevor Project has only been allowed into ONE school here locally, just one (GWHS). He’s been made aware of teens reaching out for help but not finding it. Local groups (PFLAG, Gay Visalia, etc.) are contacted but we find ourselves with our hands tied. Or when we do try to “fix” situations, calls are not returned nor are questions answered. This break in the system doesn’t do us any good when trying to help and it certainly does not benefit our youth who desperately need to feel the support of their community.
Sunday was not a cure all. We only touched the surface of problems we face. It was, I feel, a very important and monumental first step. It was a person listening to problems who actually has the power to make some changes. A person who actually cared enough to stand in front of the firing squad and be held accountable. So although things will not change overnight, it at least appears we are finally headed in the right direction. Dr. Wheaton is a fine captain but it will still take all of us to man the ship and arrive at our destination….. Safe schools, respect and inclusiveness for everyone.
If you would like more information on what was discussed, please feel free to contact me. If you have issues you would like brought to the school districts attention, you may contact the superintendent himself. You can also let me know of any situations, problems or concerns as I am compiling an email he is expecting.
Dr. Craig Wheaton, Ed.D. Superintendent
5000 W. Cypress Avenue, Visalia, CA. 93277
Ph. (559) 730-7522 Fax (559) 730-7508
In closing, I would like to thank all of those fearless attendees who stood up for our community and our youth this weekend. For those who asked the tough questions, demanded answers and solutions. Lastly, thank you PFLAG who made it all possible. Together, we really WILL make a difference!