Travis Lerol, House of Delegates

Legislative District 31 (Libertarian)

1. The Trevor Project National Survey on LGBTQIA+ Youth Mental Health 2021 surveyed nearly 35,000 LGBTQ youth ages 13-24 across the United States. Among the key findings of the survey:

  • 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.
  • 12% of white youth attempted suicide compared to 31% of Native/Indigenous youth, 21% of Black youth, 21% of multiracial youth, 18% of Latinx youth, and 12% of Asian/Pacific Islander youth.

How would you support our LGBTQIA+ youth and specifically BIPOC and transgender and nonbinary youth?

I observe that school is an unusual period of life for many. For most people, it is the only time in their life where they face a significant threat of physical violence. This correlates with a high risk of suicide among the young, in the years in and after school.

School choice is one potential solution. If a student is in a situation where they face physical or verbal abuse, they should be able to leave, and enjoy learning in a safer environment. In some cases, a private school might specialize in providing a safe educational path for members of a specific demographic.

I also note that school disciplinary systems are sometimes flawed, punishing those who resist bullying along with the tormentor. Self defense is accepted as normal in every other aspect of life, we should extend that to school, teaching that initiation of violence is wrong.

2. On June 16, 2021, the Anne Arundel County Public School Board passed the Safe and Inclusive Environments for LGBTQIA+ Students, a comprehensive policy that prohibits discrimination and harassment based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

The policy states support for the right of any student to be addressed by a name and pronoun that correspond to the student’s gender identity. Additionally, the policy supports the right of any student to use school facilities that correspond with gender identity in which the student identifies.

Please discuss the importance of the adoption of policies in schools that respect student gender identification, including consideration of reasonable and respectful accommodation in regard to facilities.

Discrimination and harassment are of course a problem on any basis. No student should be punished or deprived of services for any aspect of identity.

However, I do not view choice of pronoun as a form of discrimination. It is a choice on the part of both people. That said, if a student and those they interact with cannot come to a reasonable agreement and conflict remains, I would wish for the student to be able to go to another educational system of their choosing, and for school funding to enable them to do this without financial penalty. Sometimes separation is better than a perpetual spiteful relationship.

If we focus on enabling the student, rather than the system, we can find creative solutions to many cultural conflicts.

3. Some school boards around the country are facing calls from conservative groups to ban LGBTQIA+-representative books and Pride flags. What is your opinion of such requests and what role do you think parents and school boards play in determining curriculum, library content, and teachers’ ability to support LGBTQIA+ youth?

A particular ideology’s flags should not be singled out. School boards have a great deal of latitude, but we have precedent in the establishment clause as regards religion, and “all or none” is the accepted choice for faith. The same standard should be preserved for other ideologies and beliefs, I think.

I’d probably default to permitting all, myself, but as I’m not running for school board, I recognize that I will not be the one making this decision. Ultimately, this is generally a local issue, with parents, teachers and school boards making these calls within the limits that legal protections provide.

I don’t intend to introduce or support any bills banning books, flags, or symbols. If such a bill is introduced at the state level, I’ll fight it.

I believe some conflict in this area can be reduced by emphasizing curriculum transparency. Debates over issues like “CRT” frequently hinge on differing definitions used by each faction, which results in people arguing with little mutual understanding. If everyone can simply read the texts available openly online, misunderstanding can be reduced, and school board conversations will be more productive.

4. How have you advocated for the LGBTQIA+ community and supported inclusion for the LGBTQIA+ community in the past? Please be specific.

Sure, Libertarians support the right of everyone to live the life they choose. We’ve been supporting equal marriage rights since the ’70s. As an activist in the party, I’ve distributed literature supporting ongoing equality as recently as this past weekend at the AA County Fair. Sadly, I couldn’t make it out to our table at Pride, because I had a prior engagement, but I hope to be there next year.

There’s been great progress on this front, but we still get a little pushback in some quarters, most notably a subset of the evangelical faction.

5. It has been well documented that LGBTQIA+ people face health disparities linked to societal stigma, discrimination, and lack of access to quality health care. How have you advocated to reduce LGBTQIA+ health disparities? Explain if you have not and what you intend to do in the future to improve the health of LGBTQIA+ people in Annapolis and/or the State.

The health care issue is a deep, multifaceted issue. It’s my understanding that equal access to care is legally required already. Of course, the mere existence of a law is not a guarantee of a solved problem. I’d be interested in hearing more about specific problems from members of the community, and I do wish to generally make healthcare more affordable for everyone, as the cost is intrinsically tied to the lack of practical access.

6. How do you support improving police transparency and accountability?

As you probably know, Libertarians worked with members of other parties to draw up the rules for police review boards. Unfortunately, in AA county, these boards lack subpoena power to demand evidence, greatly limiting their power. We advocated for it, but two democrats and all republicans on the council joined to kill the amendment. It is my hope that we can bring this back up after the election, and I’d also be fine with addressing this from a state level.

I’d like to see more data published on police actions, giving more detailed breakdowns of police violence, demographic targeting, etc. In addition, while we’ve done quite a lot with bodycams in AA county of late, there’s still room for improvement. Qualified immunity needs to go, and we need to generally reduce the conflict between police and citizens. There’s a ton of options here, ranging from ending the war on drugs entirely to ending no knock raids.

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