Dear Editor,

I want to commend, praise and give thanks for the changes our local school district have made. They have addressed many of the necessary components for change you printed in last week’s paper. 

Last year the school district began surveying students. And they are continuing to improve this survey to get a clearer, more accurate picture of how safe kids are feeling at school. 

They have updated and changed the school policies to reflect the importance of protecting of ALL students. They still do not have a restorative justice program and need to. However, hopefully just having therapists in the schools will help them more effectively deal with bullying and the negative consequences for all. 

They now have therapists in all the schools. This is huge! And by making this a priority, they are ahead of the state as a whole, and ahead of the nation. Critical for helping the victim, the witness and the bully. Children bully for a reason. Now they can truly help all of these and change the toxic culture in the schools which led to my daughter’s suicide.

They are tracking all reports of bullying and have revised that system to make it better and easier to use. Again, this is an enormous step because it was previously often undocumented, which meant there were “career” bullies. A failure to everyone.

They have GSAs in both the middle school and high school, which aides in acceptance, feelings of value and gives hope and a to LGBTQIA youth. Again, critical in reducing adolescent suicide. And they have been supportive of teachers putting up “safe zone” posters. However, they still need to be more supportive of teachers who are trying to create acceptance through visibility and discussion in class. I think they still need to ensure that teachers who are LGBTQIA feel safe to be open and out so that students see that very normal, non-stereotypical people are LGBTQIA. They need these role models for more reasons than there is room for here. 

They have implemented change and accountability for teachers, staff and administrators. Good job! This will only keep kids safer. They are our wealth … the only one that matters. 

They still need to do more with training and last I heard they were going to go with an online training program for bullying, LGBTQIA risk awareness and suicide prevention. This is a failure. Online programs are not effective. This is widely known among anyone who has gone through them. Trainings need to be in-person, so that those who are discriminating and allowing discrimination to occur in their classes will learn more so they can understand their role in the high-adolescent suicide rate, and hopefully open their hearts to truly loving all students. 

Accountability is an area that they need to continue to improve upon. They have made some huge steps, but need the community, parents and all who care to keep them accountable to this important piece. 

I believe they have made a genuine and real effort to demonstrate to all students and parents that they care through the changes they have made. Yes, there is still room for improvement, but I personally praise them for the changes which have been made. I hope that parents in the community will continue to keep a watchful eye on them and push for further progress. In this state there are enormous challenges to truly protecting all students. 

I am participating in the Utah State School Board meeting next month. I hope to plant seeds of the same change. And I will sing the praises of Grand County School District for the changes they have made, which again are far ahead of most of the state. So, thank your board members, and let your state representatives know that the discrimination, which is institutionalized Utah, must change if we are to reduce our appalling adolescent suicide rate. For all families and students, I certainly hope that it comes quickly. I know what is at risk, and don’t want others to continue to experience this horror. 

Thank you.

Molly McClish