Stand in solidarity with LGBTQ+ students
This week, two different school boards in Oregon took a stand against our BIPOC and LGBTQ2SIA+ youth.
The conservative school board members in Newberg fired their superintendent, who refused to support the ban of Pride and BLM flags, in a 4-3 vote. The same night, Grants Pass’ school board reinstated the two teachers who launched an online movement to strip trans students of their rights.
On Tuesday, four conservative board members voted to terminate Superintendent Dr. Joe Morelock.
In September, the same four board members to ban pride flags and Black Lives Matter flags in schools, while also banning students and educators from wearing pride or BLM attire. The board amended that ban following concerns about legality after the ACLU threatened to sue the school board if it did not reconsider the policy. It remains as a ban on all political or quasi-political signs displayed by teachers.
If a teacher displayed a sign deemed political, they were to be reported to the superintendent. Morelock said in September that if he received a report, he would not uphold the ban because he had been advised it illegally curbed free speech.
The firing of Morelock adds a new layer of trouble for the school district as the debate over the controversial ban continues both in and out of Newberg.
The Grants Pass school board reinstated the two former employees who created the “I Resolve Movement’ — North Middle School assistant principal Rachel Damiano and science teacher Katie Medart.
In July, the school board voted to fire the two for using district equipment for a personal project — the “I Resolve Movement’.
Though there was no item on the board’s Tuesday agenda to revisit the vote, board members emerged from the executive session and voted to reverse the July decision.
“In a 4-3 vote, the Grants Pass School Board has reversed its decision to terminate two Grants Pass School District 7 employees for violating district policies,” the District said. “The board had previously voted 4-3 in support of the superintendent’s recommendation to terminate, following an independent third-party investigation.
In March, Damiano and Medert uploaded a video to YouTube that urged community members to sign a petition to strip rights from trans students. Among other measures, they proposed to define bathroom access by students’ “anatomical sex” and allow teachers to address students by the names and pronouns they feel are correct.
Across Oregon and the country, school boards are shutting down acceptance and welcome for LGBTQ2SIA+ and students of color. The decisions made by these two school boards are incredibly damaging and cause harm, dysphoria, and unsafe feelings for youth who may already feel marginalized in their schools. We need to ensure that school boards across our state stay invested in the health and well-being of all students.
“These are calculated attacks made by adults that negatively affect the lives of the children they are meant to protect,” Nancy Haque, Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon, said. “LGBTQ2SIA+ students, Black students and other students of color deserve to be celebrated, not eradicated. They deserve to know that the teachers and administration of their school see them and honor their identities.”
Add your name to the list of folks willing to stand alongside the students in Newberg and Grants Pass and let the rest of the state know that it is never okay to attack our BIPOC and LGBTQ2SIA+ youth.