LGBTQ+ Pride Month

Texas A-F-T celebrates L-G-B-T-Q plus Pride Month

Recognizing Important Texans

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month, an important time for educators and students to celebrate the contributions and achievements of LGBTQ+ individuals in all aspects of our society. It’s also a chance to educate about the discrimination and racism faced by these communities, historically and still today.

Each week of Pride Month, Texas AFT will highlight a Texan from our communities and current or retired Texas school employees, all nominated by our local leaders.

We believe to #TeachTheTruth, we must recognize and lift up the contributions of the wonderfully diverse population of our state, our country, and our world.

For more ways to support and celebrate your LGBTQ+ students, check out the free lesson plans and resources available to AFT members through Share My Lesson.

Rep. Venton Jones

Voice for the Voiceless

Nominated by Rena Honea, president of Alliance/AFT

A freshman in the Texas House of Representatives, Rep. Venton Jones (D-Dallas) has already distinguished himself as an advocate for those too often left behind by the Legislature. 

This legislative session, Jones stood up for people who often go without a voice, including Texans with HIV, our trans students, and our hard-working and woefully underpaid school support staff. 

Jones, who represents HD-100, is the first Black, gay, and openly HIV-positive lawmaker to serve at the Capitol in Austin. 

His lived experiences showed through in the legislation he authored, from a bill that would repeal the archaic state statute criminalizing homosexuality (HB 3160) to one that would require schools to notify parents if their child’s campus lacked a full-time nurse, counselor, or librarian (HB 2694). 

Two bills he authored (HB 3377 and HB 2235) would have made HIV testing a standard part of routine sexually transmitted infection screenings and medical check-ups; both were approved with bipartisan support by the House before going left unheard in the Senate.

Jones also introduced a vitally important bill for school custodians, HB 2695, which would have required school boards to set rules for the amount of square feet a school custodian can be assigned to maintain. The House Public Education Committee never scheduled this bill for a hearing.

Dr. Kristine Vowels

A True Professional

Nominated by Rena Honea, president of Alliance/AFT

Dr. Kristine A. Vowels has worked in education for 27 years. In that time, she has amassed an impressive array of credentials.

She has an earned:

  • a doctorate in Supervision, Curriculum, and Instruction from Texas A & M-Commerce.
  • a master’s degree in Educational Administration with a valid Texas principal certification
  • a degree in Health and Physical Education from Stephen F. Austin State University, as well as a valid Texas teaching certificate in both fields of instruction

Currently, Vowels teachers Health and Physical Education, along with an elective course — Careers in Sports/Health/Fitness — at Henry W. Longfellow Career Exploration Academy Middle School.

In her career, with all her qualifications, she has held numerous positions and has had a tremendously positive impact on her students and colleagues.

But the position she cherishes most is mom, after the adoption of her daughter Frehiwot Kolby Vowels in 2012. Fre is currently a sophomore in high school and excels both academically and athletically.