School board candidates hear about LGBT issues


      Candidates Maggie Butler and Donna Austin listen to questions from the LGBT community.


Capital Equality hosted a school board candidates might featuring all candidates running for the Leon County School Board Wednesday evening at the library’s main branch on Park Avenue.

Capital Equality is a charter chapter of the Florida lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allies democratic caucus, which was founded in 2009.

The audience was greeted by smiles and handshakes, while pamphlets were distributed by candidates. The night was filled with concerned citizens’ questions about the protection of the lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender (LGBT) community in the county’s schools.

The night started with each candidate introducing their self and what they would do for Leon County.

The candidates were Charles Williams, Georgia Bowen, Donna Austn-Hayes, Maggie Butler, Marcus Nicolas, Rickey Bell, Lynn Jones, Patty Thomas and Daryl Jones.

Each candidate discussed the issue of the LGBT in the schools and how they would handle situations that may arise.

President of Capital Equality Andy Janecek shared a testimony about dropping out of high school after coming out as gay.

“I came out as a ninth grader,” said Janecek. “It was horrible, it was really bad.”

Questions such as what can be done for the LGBT community and issues that are faced within schools were discussed.

Patty Thomas discussed what can be done for the LGBT community in schools.

“I think the instructional materials that we use in our schools need to be inclusive. For many years certain groups of people have been left out of materials. It’s up to us as educators to make sure all people are represented in the materials,” Thomas said.

Lynn Jones also gave her opinion on the issue.

“I think the school board needs to take a look at how they address inclusiveness,” she said.

Community members were given the opportunity to ask questions or give their concerns on the LGBT issues in schools.

Comments about dealing with identifying children who may be dealing with abuse at home because of their sexuality were also discussed. Marcus Nicolas gave his opinion.

“School guidance counselors are not mental health counselors. Mental health counselors are trained to identify and diagnose when there are issues such as that in the home,” Nickolas said.

“There needs to be school counselors on school grounds.”

Janeck, president of Capital Equality, ended the discussion.

“This was a learning lesson,” he said.