Dear East County Californian,
I am Anthony Devine, a high school educator and a graduate from San Diego State University and from Point Loma Nazarene University. I lived in the San Diego area (San Diego, La Mesa, and El Cajon) from 1999 to 2021 as a student and as an educator. I was an educator with the Grossmont Union High School District from 2007 to 2021, and I am writing to express my deep concern about decisions undertaken by the Grossmont Union High School District targeting LGBTQ+ students and staff, among others.
These decisions appear to be made by a tiny minority of far-right extremists who have embedded themselves within school boards in a coordinated effort across the country to make decisions based on internet rumors and documented disinformation campaigns.
For example, recently the GUHSD board has decided to end ties with San Diego Youth Services–an organization that works to support LGBTQ+ youth, which SDYS points out is one of the regions most vulnerable populations due to non-supportive and hostile environments. SDYS works to save the lives of LGBTQ+ youth, and the Grossmont Union High School District seems to have cut ties with them with no plan to replace them with an organization at least equally dedicated to the task of supporting LGBTQ+ youth.
As a proud, supportive parent I will forever be grateful to San Diego Youth Services as they provided safe, supportive services to my own child. I would drive weekly from my home in East County in order for my child to have access to the SDYS Mental Health clinic in the city of San Diego. Adolescence is a challenging time for so many of us, and an especially risky and deadly time for our LGBTQ+ youth who often face hostile homes, communities, and schools simply for being who they are. My child is now an amazing adult thanks to our loving home and thanks to supportive services like those provided by SDYS.
As a GUHSD employee, I was proud that SDYS offered services at our schools to young people in our community navigating the hostility they face in their lives. I was proud that an organization that helped my child develop into an amazing adult was available providing the same help to the community I served as an educator for well over a decade. GUHSD’s decision to end their partnership with SDYS was a mistake that I hope is corrected immediately.
Our children deserve to grow up in a supportive environment, free from ideological grandstanding and narrative campaigns and they deserve better than to have their rights abrogated by anti-American rhetoric and decisions by known extremist groups like the Proud Boys, Moms for Liberty, the Heritage Foundation, and other white supremacist-affiliate organizations. We are better than allowing extremist groups to target the wellbeing of our LGBTQ+ youth.
I join many others in hoping to see a show of community support for our LGBTQ+ students and staff at the September 12th GUHSD Governing Board Meeting. It is scheduled to start at 6:00 pm at the Grossmont High School Event Center Theatre, 1100 Murray Drive, El Cajon, CA.
I would love to attend this meeting myself in order to support LGBTQ+ youth, staff, and allies in the Grossmont Union High School District, but since 2021 I have been working as an educator serving US military youth living outside of the United States. Otherwise, I would be there doing what I can to oppose decisions like this–decisions meant to turn vulnerable community members into scapegoats and political pawns.
GUHSD Educator from 2007-2021
Devine is currently teaching U.S. military connected youth in Germany