LGBTQ+ Community Faces Opposition in Ohio Schools: Where Does Worthington Stand?


Rainbow pride flag flying in the daytime breeze. Original public domain image from Wikimedia Commons

For the past year, teachers and school parents across the country have had a conflict on the topic of LGBTQ inclusion in schools. Many teachers attempt to provide safe spaces for LGBTQ+ students and teach topics that would promote acceptance as best they can. However, much of that teaching is now under attack.

A number of parents and community members have voiced concern for their children, saying that they’d rather have control over what their students are being taught. Some legislation regarding this issue is causing quite an uproar, which many refer to as “Don’t say gay” bills. These bills would restrict the teaching of LGBTQ+ topics. 

This sort of legislation has been introduced at many levels, not only at the national level, but at state and local levels as well. Hilliard is one of the districts in Central Ohio that’s been involved with this issue for quite some time.   

“I proudly wear the badge,” says a teacher in Hilliard. “There is a QR code on the back of the badge that would take you to a website of resources about queerness. The QR was meant for adults and adults only.”

Even with the QR code being hidden,some parents have raised concerns over possible adult content hidden in the links the QR code provides. The front of the pin is meant to express to students that the wearer of the pin is supportive of LGBTQ+ students and is there for support if they need it. 

Worthington provides teachers with official stickers from the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network’s website, which they can display in their classrooms however they see fit. GLSEN is a network that works to create inclusive safe spaces for all students in the school system. 

“Here, I partnered with principals,” said Toya Spencer, Worthington City Schools’ Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. “They said ‘I need this number of stickers for my building.  “They’ve worked well for us. I’ve heard from teachers that students pay attention, and it matters to them when they see a sticker.”

It’s essential that students, as well as teachers, show their support for LGBTQ+ individuals when legislation like this is spread so quickly and aggressively. 

“I think every single one of us has the responsibility to take ownership of being a person who is open and welcoming to others around us,” said Toya. “We’re fortunate in Worthington to have a community that values inclusion, that values everybody being free to be who they are.”