First things first, we should tell you up front that the "Spirit Week" at Billings West High School has now been reportedly postponed, after parents and students raised concerns about an "LGBTQ Support Day" listed as part of the events.

After hearing from parents, I inquired with Billings West High principal Kelly Hornby last week who said he was looking into the issue. Later in the week, parents forwarded me correspondence indicating that the Spirit Week would now be postponed as the events did not follow the standard approval process.

Before the events were postponed, one self-described "Mama Bear" parent of a West High Golden Bear student shared with me her message about why an "LGBTQ Support Day" is so concerning. Here's the full letter to the principal:

Hello Mr. Hornby. I am writing to express my concern over the issues that will be focused and highlighted next week at West High. My daughter is a sophomore there, and although this is her first year at West, we have been delighted thus far with the quality of education she has received this year. She has been challenged and encouraged by her teachers and peers, and we are thankful for the many opportunities she has experienced. I am, however, very concerned about the repercussions of choosing to focus next week’s daily dress-up days to feature such a highly emotionally charged issue as sexuality. While I am of the opinion that all people deserve respect and dignity and should be treated with kindness, I cannot support my daughter being encouraged to celebrate a lifestyle (LGBTQ) that our family believes to be against our personal religious beliefs. I am appalled that such issues that are typically private and personal (including religious beliefs and sexuality) are to be paraded in front of the student body without any regard to what that might mean for students who do not support this lifestyle.  In a society and cultural climate that has been driven lately by hate, anger, and divisiveness, I am saddened to see that we couldn’t have come up with groups or issues to focus on that could bring us all together, rather than further divide us and incite hostility. I’m confused as to why we are focusing on sexuality at all in a teenage demographic, when sexually transmitted disease, unintended pregnancy, cervical cancer, and mental health issues resulting from risky sexual behavior are clearly indicated by the research to be on the rise with this age group.

I understand that these days were likely chosen in order to foster a sense of acceptance, love, and care for certain people groups. I absolutely support encouraging diversity and understand that not everyone is going to believe and think the same way I or my family does. Why not offer a “Diversity day” in which students of all abilities, racial/cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs could celebrate the ways in which we are all unique, and therefore, connected? What about our men and women who are military personnel or first responders, and sacrifice much each day so that we can enjoy the freedoms we DO have, including to live in the way we see fit? If students who identify as LGBTQ are being bullied, can we not address the bullying issue in a broader scope, rather than disqualifying others who may not adopt that lifestyle but are being bullied for their conservative, Christian beliefs?

I know that my email may not change anything. I could not let this opportunity to pass, however, without taking a minute to share my thoughts with you. I look forward to your response.



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