Bayard Rustin, an openly gay leader from the Civil Rights Movement, is being honored this week. A new elementary school in Montgomery County, Maryland is being named after the historic figure.
Rustin was an important backbone of the Civil Rights Movement, but is often forgotten, so this type of honor will serve as a great remembrance and reminder. He organized some of the first Freedom Rides, he was an advisor to Martin Luther King Jr. and was a pioneer for economic justice. Although both his race and sexuality served as barriers for him during multiple steps of his activist career, he kept going.
Jill Ortman-Fouse, a member of the Board of Education who voted for this naming, said, “What can be more inspiring than showing our students that with everything stacked up against them, they can still persevere?”
According to Bethesda Magazine, some parents thought it might start inappropriate conversations with their young children about sexuality. This is an age old reaction to mainstream LGBT identities, but as we all know, LGBT folks aren’t just here to ruin families. If parents can somehow explain straightness without having explicit conversations with their kids, I think they’ll find a way.
Given that over 100 schools in the United States are named after Confederate leaders, it’s about time we got more inclusive memorials, and this is a great start.