Kansas City commission will hold emergency meeting Monday amid anti-LGBTQ incidents

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After a Kansas City high school teacher was placed on administrative leave for making degrading comments against people who identify as LGBTQ+, the city’s LGBTQ Commission will hold an emergency meeting Monday to address a trend in hate-related incidents.

The meeting will be at 8 p.m. over Zoom.

Justice Horn, a community activist who is campaigning for a seat in the Jackson County Legislature, said the commission has been made aware of five incidents against LGBTQ+ youth in the last few weeks.

“At the root of it is anti-LGBTQ+ feelings and homophobia,” Horn said in a phone interview. “We can never take this issue too seriously.”

Horn, who is vice president of the commission, is concerned about the incidents because LGBTQ+ youth have a higher risk of depression and suicide. The 2020 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health by The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ+ youth crisis organization, found that two in five LGBTQ+ youth “seriously considered” suicide in the past year.

The teacher at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy High School, who has not been identified by name, made comments against Muslims and LGBTQ+ people during an English class, KCTV5 reported. The teacher was removed from the classroom after administrators were made aware of the statements.

In a letter sent to families, Principal Kristian Foster said, “We had students approach us with concerns about the topics and sentiments shared with them relating to religious beliefs and texts during their class time. We are grateful for our students sharing their concerns with us.”

“Please know that these comments are being investigated and reviewed,” the letter states.

The principal added that both the school and district are “committed to a school environment that is safe and welcoming for everyone, including honoring separation of church and state within our school community.”

In Lee’s Summit, hundreds of students walked out in support of a gay student who had allegedly faced harassment and bullying, which then led to a fight. A parent told The Star that her daughter suffered a broken nose during the altercation.

An educator in the Olathe School District distributed a “Gender Unicorn” worksheet in a high school Human Growth and Development class. The worksheet asked students to answer questions about who they were physically attracted to.

“This worksheet was not appropriate for students and asked questions that could violate their personal privacy rights,” a school district statement said. “Students who received the worksheet have been asked not to complete it.”

The district is working to make sure the worksheet won’t be distributed in any other classrooms, the statement said.

Earlier this school year, the Independence School District removed the option for students to display their preferred pronouns on Canvas, the district’s virtual learning platform, The Star’s Editorial Board reported. The school district didn’t explain why they removed the option.

In another incident, Horn also said an area parent came forward to the commission alleging their child had been bullied for being LGBTQ+.

Horn said the emergency meeting called by the commission is intended to support those who have been victimized and get a grasp on the scope of the problem.

“We’re seeing a lot of things that need to be dealt with,” he said.

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