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VISALIA – The US BMX cycling champion Brooke Crane was ready to talk to students at her alma mater, Mt. Whitney High School in this San Joaquin Valley town 190 miles north of Los Angeles, but hit a rock. Cain, two-time Olympian she would give a lecture on two topics close to her heart, suicide prevention and a healthy lifestyle, when a school administrator objected to part of her planned lecture.

In September 2018, Crane took to Instagram, announcing his engagement to Australian BMX athlete Rachel Jones. As a professional athlete, she lived in fear of her sexuality. Then, on July 2 last year in the midst of the pandemic, Crane lost his biggest fan, a supporter, and her father, Todd Crane, a police officer, for suicide.

After the death of his father, Crane became active in raising awareness and preventing suicide. In her personal history she confessed to her native newspaper, the Visalia Times-Delta last month in an interview; “I had struggled to go out for many years, and with that struggle came gloomy thoughts,” Crane said. “Just as a professional spotlight athlete and an Olympian, I never thought I would be accepted. I remember fighting, I had some dark memories of suicide. ”

So when she was asked to tell the students about her experience and life, Crane wanted to include her story and fight being a lesbian in a text message to Frank Escobar, director of VUSD’s student services last week. Crane asked if he could share a story because of the impact it had on her mental health.

Escobar’s response was less than enthusiastic The Times-Delta reported on Thursday. Escobar told her that the topic was “a sensitive area” for the VUSD school board.

“I think you can definitely do it [coming out] regarding the aspects of the Ministry of Health (mental health). “What we want to deviate from is to encourage or advocate for students to make that choice,” Escobar said in a text message to Crane. “There, the board outlines the line.”

This exchange of texts was publicly shared by the Olympic cyclist, who said he could not speak openly without telling his full story. “I didn’t think I would ever be able to be what I was in the sport, or be outright gay,” she told the newspaper. This was the beginning of my path to mental health.

Crane’s goal is to advocate for LGBTQ + youth and raise awareness about suicide because both are special to her, she added. She then withdrew from speaking at Mt. Whitney High’s students.

Visalia United School District Board Chairman Juan Guerrero apologized to the Times-Delta; “VUSD would like to continue to record and point out false statements about the area made by Mr. Escobar in exchange for text messages between him and Ms. Crane,” said Kim Bati, a spokesman for the area. “Mr. Escobar was not authorized to speak on behalf of the board or the county in this way.” Guerrero added, “VUSD encompasses diversity among all students, staff and families. VUSD apologizes for any pain this text messaging has caused Ms. Crane. “

Nineteen years ago this August, the United School District of Visalia agreed to adopt comprehensive reforms to tackle gay harassment, including initial training measures for staff and students to prevent harassment before it occurs, in an agreement reached with US civil society. Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California and the gay straight alliance network in a federal lawsuit filed the previous year.

“This case is not just about Visalia, California – it’s a national epidemic in suburban schools where young people face unspeakable harassment and violence because of who they are.” said James Essex, Judicial Director in the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project during the settlement. “” This can – and often does – happen in almost any school outside of urban America. “

Young LGBTQ people are at higher risk of suicide attempts because of the public rejection they see and hear in the news, from their governments and from their friends and families, ”said Amit Paley, CEO and CEO of The Trevor Project. in front of Blade. in a pre-emailed statement about a related storyline. “It’s important to remind LGBTQ people that they are loved, never alone, and that their lives have value.”

If you or someone you know feels hopeless or suicidal, contact TrevorLifeline at Trevor Project 24/7/365 at 1-866-488-7386. TheTrevorProject.org.

LGBTQ adults as well as young people can also contact the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255 or online at suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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