Home Staunton’s LGBTQ community apprehensive about City Council, School Board candidates

Staunton’s LGBTQ community apprehensive about City Council, School Board candidates

Rebecca Barnabi
your vote matters
(© 1STunningART – stock.adobe.com)

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8, and topics affecting Staunton’s queer community have been on the table for discussion.

Erika and Jordan Zipser of Staunton have three children in Staunton Schools.

They are also part of the Queen City’s queer community. Both are queer, and Jordan identifies as transgender nonbinary.

“Local elections are more important than people realize,” Erika Zipser said. “This one will affect the representation of the queer community in Staunton.”

According to Zipser, only three candidates running for Staunton School Board are friendly toward the local queer community and not supportive of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposed new policy, including Kristin Siegel.

In a video posted on his Facebook campaign page Wednesday, Staunton School Board candidate John Wilson referred to the current members of Staunton School Board as “limp-wristed screw-ups,” a slur which arose in the 1980s against gay men.

Erika Zipser said “that’s dehumanizing.”

Candidates for school board who support the governor’s modified policies for students are focused on parental rights, not on the well-being of students, according to Jordan Zipser.

“It’s unsafe for kids, and there are people who are running for school board who support these policies,” Jordan Zipser said.

The Zipsers are also concerned about Lisa Hatter running for school board.

“We would obviously prefer to see the candidates we support elected,” Erika Zipser said.

While the current members of Staunton School Board appear not inclined to change policies, the Zipsers are more concerned about when others up for election in 2024 are replaced.

“That’s when things could dramatically shift,” she said.

Jordan Zipser said the couple “really want to see people who support queer and transgender get elected” in 2022 or a seismic shift will be felt in 2024.

As for Staunton City Council, Erika said they are “a lot less scary.” They are “very business focused,” and not concerned about making symbolic gestures for marginalized members of the community.

This election year is not as important as the next will be for Staunton’s queer community.

Jordan said that any adult who thinks the governor’s policies will not affect them is wrong. They said it’s easy to target children with policies because they are underage and have no authority to govern themselves.

“The problem is that policies like this are the first step in a slippery slope of taking away the rights of adults,” Jordan said.

The governor extended the comment period on the policies to the end of November.

Eventually, policies could impact adults, particularly women and other marginalized groups.

“It really does impact everyone,” Jordan said.

At Staunton PRIDE on October 23, the Zipsers had a booth where they collected cards containing comments for the governor. Erika said she spoke to several children, and the cards were an opportunity for them to provide their feedback about the policies.

“They don’t feel that they have any power in the situation,” she said.

Erika said she encourages everyone to get out and vote.

“It does affect someone you care about, whether you realize it or not,” she said of the governor’s proposed policies.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.