There’s a truism we in the LGBTQ community experience at the visceral level: “Elections have consequences.” If you’ve been paying attention to what’s going on in Florida, Texas, and Cobb County, school boards have agendas. In 2023, the trend is for these local elected officials to use their actual and perceived power to beat up on our community. As a former school board member twice endorsed by the Victory Fund as well as by Georgia Equality and as a person who has dedicated his life to public education, I urge you to give Alfred “Shivy” Brooks your vote in the December 5 runoff for a seat on the Atlanta Public Schools Board.
Brooks is a teacher, community inspiration, and a strong advocate for what’s needed in APS. We taxpayers spend way more per student than any other district in the Metro ATL. This is understandable given the complexity of our city, but we are not seeing results from this investment in student learning. The solution is simple: reallocate the money from administration to the point of learning, the classroom. Brooks’ platform aligns: pay teachers well, reduce class size, and resource our learning spaces.
In 2020, the LGBTQIA+ Taskforce was formed and crafted Overview and Recommendations. It is far-reaching in terms of the health, safety, and academic well-being of our community. Though a resolution was passed by the board over two years ago to support enacting the recommendations, the LGBTQIA+ Taskforce dissolved. Tamara Jones and the current board have done absolutely nothing to further LGBTQ equality in the impactful ways the report detailed. This is not surprising, given Jones’ choice of debate language while running for School Board in 2021. Jones disregarded advice to drop her heteronormative messaging around the need to be a parent to serve. Despite being called out by LGBTQ candidates in public forums, she persisted. Simply put, we have no ally in Jones. In contrast, Brooks has a lifelong record of pushing back against the dominant power structures that have so often treated our community as political pawns. He shows up and stands up for equality.
One recommendation that I sponsored as an active member of the LGBTQIA+ Taskforce, to “center literature and history curricula in the lives of Black queer leaders,” was excised from the list of recommendations by the APS administration. With Brooks’ unapologetic leadership, the task force can be reinstated, this language can be inserted, and the board can finally be held accountable for the totality of the 2020 resolution. Imagine students understanding the contributions and historical context of national heroes like Storme DeLarverie, Marsha P. Johnson, Bayard Rustin, Barbara Jordan, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, and the countless other impactful LGBTQ figures.
Mark December 5 on your calendar. A strong LGBTQ vote in this off-year runoff election will determine the outcome for this critical seat on Atlanta’s School Board. Elections have consequences.