Introducing LGBTQ+ Liaison: Maureen Muir


Aya Takase-Songui and Saba Nabaeighahroudi

ADVOCATING FOR ACCESSIBILITY: Mental Health and LGBTQ+ Community Support Specialist Maureen Muir shares solutions regarding student accessibility to mental health resources.

Ally Venezia, Staff Writer

National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11 was a day for people around the world to celebrate coming out as proud members of the LGBTQ+ community. For the new IUSD LGBTQ+ liaison Maureen Muir, this meant a lot more students stepped into her office and shared their stories.

“Before the pandemic, I only had about six kids that identified as trans or nonbinary,” Muir said. “After the pandemic though, I had over 27 new kids.”

Virtual learning offered a unique opportunity for internal reflection and for kids to figure out who they are and who they wanted to be, so as students returned to their school sites, they became more confident in their gender identities and sexual orientations, and were proud to present it.

“There’s not a lot of positive things that came out of COVID, but the chance for kids to feel comfortable enough in their own skin is such an amazing feeling,” Muir said. “I’m just glad that I am able to be such a huge advocate for these kiddos.”

Muir is only four weeks into her new position as the district’s LGBTQ+ Community Support, but she has already been a vital part of the LGBTQ+ support system for years from her old position as a counselor at Portola High School.

Last year, Muir’s position consisted of the everyday job of a high school counselor but she also held a special place in many students’ hearts, as she was their closest confidant when it came to seeking guidance about their mental health and family situations when they decided they wanted to come out to their parents.

IUSD sanctioned the new LGBTQ+ liaison position this year after Muir had been juggling her work as Portola’s head counselor and LGBTQ+ support. Muir’s duties consist of meeting with kids and the parents of LGBTQ+ youth, creating plans for schools with transgender students as well as proving mental health counseling.

“The most important job I have is training staff members on gender support plans and making sure that we are supporting our transgender and nonbinary youth,” Muir said. “But my biggest goal is to establish a trans and nonbinary support group network, or at the very least have a gender and sexuality alliance club at each school.”

Currently, IUSD has three high schools with transgender and nonbinary specific clubs—with Northwood being one of them. Other middle and high schools across IUSD are working to establish their own GSA groups.

For schools that don’t have their own support groups, the LGBTQ Center Orange County offers support groups for both youth and parents who are learning more about their child, such as Monthly Trans Orientations and mental and physical help for youth.

In comparison to other states, California is much more accepting of LGBTQ+ youth. Just this month, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill protecting transgender youth from bans against gender-affirming care in red states.

“I had a student whose parents uprooted their entire family from Texas to California just so that their kid could be who they wanted to be,” Muir said.

Muir’s office is located at the Irvine Unified School District Office and she can be reached at her email: [email protected] Each school in IUSD has specific mental health specialists on campus to support LGBTQ+ youth, but Muir is also available.

Muir is continuing to work with schools around IUSD to offer as much support as she can, and to ensure that every student who steps foot onto campus feels safe being exactly who they want to be.