LPS school board meeting focuses on LGBTQ+ issues

At Tuesday's board of education meeting, Dr. Paul Gausman addressed controversy he'd seen on...
At Tuesday's board of education meeting, Dr. Paul Gausman addressed controversy he'd seen on social media regarding LGBTQ+ topics.(10/11 NOW)
Published: Aug. 23, 2022 at 10:19 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - The new LPS superintendent is already tackling some sensitive subjects and the school year just began.

At Tuesday’s school board meeting, the first one since classes started back up, LPS Superintendent Dr. Paul Gausman took a moment to address some controversy and confusion regarding LGBTQ+ topics in the district.

Dr. Gausman addressed two big items. One being concerns about whether a certain book was available in LPS school libraries and the other, a mandatory staff learning session for LPS employees like counselors and school nurses to better help transgender students and others.

Dr. Gausman’s first board of education meeting for the school year started by addressing mandatory staff training that took place on Aug. 10 and what the guest speaker, transgender author Ryan Sallans, allegedly talked about, something that has been the focal point of a complaint made in a woman’s social media posts.

“I want to be clear that it has been reliably reported to me by several staff members that the speaker did not say, the quote that has been attributed to that speaker on social media,” Dr. Gausman said. “However, given that there still seems to be some level of disagreement about what was actually said, I as the superintendent of schools will be looking into this matter further, and will do my best to get a sense of what staff members feel that they heard.”

Stephanie Johnson, a former LPS speech pathologist, made the social media posts.

“And my point in all of this is just recognizing where people get their data and the public needs to know that,” Johnson said.

There are also claims that Sallans supports the use of puberty blockers and he said not calling students by their preferred pronouns would be harassment. Gausman said he’s looking into all of this.

“We do our best to ensure that any content for our students and in this case for our staff, will be appropriate and in line with our policies and with our curriculum,” Dr. Gausman said. “If we find that an invited speaker is not in line with those policies and practices, they will not be invited back.”

A number of people spoke in favor of the training.

“I strongly support Lincoln Public Schools providing training for teachers on topics including but not limited to, LGBTQ plus issues, mental health, critical thinking, community building, diversity, equity and inclusion,” Lindsay Rodgers said.

Dr. Gausman also commented on concerns about the book Gender Queer, which was mentioned in a tweet from the Nebraska GOP. He said, to his knowledge, that book is not offered in LPS libraries.