I entered the Board of Education meeting yesterday in order to express my support of the changes made in the state-mandated update of Senate Bill 48. Also known as the The Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act , it makes the curriculum more inclusive by requiring schools to fairly and accurately portray the historic contributions of the LGBTQ+ community.
As other students spoke, I watched some board members give the speakers the respect they deserve, while the President of the Board slouched and rolled his eyes at their concerns. When the meeting ended, he refused to comment on the ideas presented by student speakers.
However, the community is aware that the president is motivated by factors other than students’ well-being. Previously, he openly admitted that his opposition to the state-mandated update for the health education curriculum to include gender expression and identity is rooted in the fact that the changes conflict with the teachings of the Catholic Church.
A public school district is not the place to pursue a religious agenda. It won’t get rid of the LGBTQ+ community. It will only increase the amount of criticism directed towards the board. Advocates will continue to be vocal on the subject, as we refuse to be swept under the rug. Too often the LGBTQ+ community is oppressed by groups motivated by religious beliefs.
If a parent wants their child’s education to be shaped by the family’s religion, then there are plenty of religious, private school options in our community.
Despite Dunn’s flawed motives, there is hope for our school’s’ future. Board member Betsy Connolly supports the FAIR Education Act.
“The state framework and the foundations are required of us, but I have no concerns about them,” Conolly said. “I think the updates in the new books will be excellent and will help teachers to teach a curriculum that encourages knowledge and tolerance. I think it’s great.”
I hope Conolly’s outlook influences the newest addition to the board, Clerk Sandee Everett, who appears to be on the fence about the issue. She has strong religious ties, but claims to look past them.
“Each board member has a world view, just like you do, so we are who we are as people. It is part of who we are, how we think and what decisions we make. We also have to determine what’s the law and how we can best implement that,” Everett said. “Give everyone the benefit of the doubt and know that there’s all different sides, and just as I look outside my own world, I encourage everyone to do that.”
I hope she holds true to her statement and that her vote on the 17th reflects the same ideas.