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Guest Commentary: With Upcoming School Board Elections, We Need You to Be All in for All Ohio Students

By Avery Martens, the Buckeye Flame,

Avery Martens, the Ohio Commission Lead for All In for All Students invites Ohioans to knock on doors with them to campaign for school board candidates who support welcoming, well-resourced public education.

This commentary was originally published by the Buckeye Flame and is republished here with permission.

Growing up trans in Ohio with a working-class mom shaped who I am. I am fabulous and tough and so proud to be a queer Ohioan. Over the last eight years, I have been talking with people, mostly working-class white people, about racial justice, harm reduction to reduce overdose deaths and police accountability. I believe that people can change. I’ve seen time and again, when we connect with people on our shared values and capacity for empathy and invite them into action with us, we can change minds and votes.

I am now Ohio Campaign Lead for All In for All Students , an initiative of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) . Our campaign is committed to making a critical impact on four key school board races in Ohio to elect representatives that will fight for safe, well-funded schools for all kids—no matter their race, gender or how much money their families make. We are calling and knocking on doors to talk with Ohioans about the rights of trans youth and the strength of communities whose kids learn honest history about racism in this country. And we need your help.

In Westerville, Olentangy, Dublin and North Canton, All In for All Students is supporting leaders who will fight for welcoming, well-resourced public schools. These candidates are fighting for all students amid a well-funded nationwide backlash to the progress we’ve made on racial justice and LGBTQ+ rights in the years since I graduated from high school.


Their opponents use fear-mongering about trans kids and conversations about race to divide communities. It’s an attempt to distract from the long-term goal of the conservative movement to erode public education and the democratic principles they are supposed to teach students, consolidating political control. In reality, protecting the well-being of all students—no matter their race, gender or the neighborhood they live in—and cuts to public school funding are the central issues facing Ohio schools.

So many of us value strong, well-funded schools that teach honest history and create welcoming environments for all students to have the freedom to be themselves. We need to reach out to people, talk with them and invite them to join us. I’m asking 100 LGBTQ+ Ohioans to join us to call people up and knock on their doors and have the deep conversations required to change minds and win. At Showing Up for Racial Justice, we do this in a way that supports our volunteers and builds our power, together.

I want to ensure the students of today and tomorrow are able to learn in welcoming, well-resourced schools that support students having honest conversations about race and the strengths in our differences. I want to see what queer futures the trans and queer students of today will build when their schools have their back and fight for every kid, no exceptions.

If you agree, will you sign up here and join me in supporting leaders who will fight for welcoming schools in Ohio?


Avery Martens is a resident of Ohio and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. They enjoy adventuring around Ohio state parks and bike trails and spending time with friends and family. Avery currently lives in Columbus, Ohio and works for Showing Up for Racial Justice as their Ohio Director.

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