When Faced With a $100M Deficit, Does Protecting LGBT Students Simply Cost Too Much?

We all know school districts across the nation are facing budget shortfalls for their property tax-funded curriculums. So when an budget item comes up worth $120,000, the question begs: Do you hire two new teachers, or institute a support program for LGBT students? San Francisco is about to decide just that.

Tomorrow night the school board will vote on the “controversial” measure, which would budget money to hire a full-time staffer, at about $90,000 a year, “manage LGBT youth issues in the district’s Student Support Services Department.” In addition, the new program would also, at a cost of $30,000 a year, track harassment complaints and distribute to parents “an educational packet … encouraging them to discuss ‘the issues of sexuality, gender identity and safety’ with their children,” relays the San Francisco Chronicle.

Why is such a resolution being considered? Because the current program, which provides a website and student lessons on sexual orientation, is funded by outside grants, which could dry up at any point. The only way to guarantee a permanent program is to self-fund it.

But the interests of LGBT students butts up against fiscal responsibility: With a $113 million (!) budget shortfall, is increasing spending the way to keep things afloat?

A vote against the bill is a vote against the safety and concern for LGBT students; a vote for the bill is a vote for spending money the district doesn’t have. There’s no perfect answer.

But then you hear about schools where even the teachers are engaged in bullying students based on their gender expression, and you realize kids aren’t just suffering from isolated incidents of harassment, but institutionally approved torment. And ridding that ill might be worthy any cost.

UPDATE 2/10: The school board voted unanimously to approve the program.