AUSD Board approves LGBTQ Pride Month resolution on 3-2 vote

Split over raising rainbow “pride” flag at district schools and offices

By Allen Payton

The Antioch School Board approved adoption of a resolution recognizing June as LGBTQ Pride Month and flying the rainbow “pride” flag at the district offices and at each school in the district.

“This is the first year we are bringing this resolution forward. We believe it’s important,” said Superintendent Stephanie Anello. “A lot of people don’t know that 10% of the population are represented in this demographic.”

“I want to thank Superintendent. It really made me proud to be part of this district,” said Trustee Ellie Householder. “We’ve seen an increase in hate crimes of LGBTQ youth…and contemplate suicide at three times the rate of heterosexual youth.”

She also asked to have the LGTBQ Pride Flag be raised at the district, for at least the first week of the month, and clauses added to the resolution.

“I’m pleased to see this resolution,” said Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White. “in addition to the resolution my suggestion is a workshop for teachers, this fall, for counseling and to support the students throughout the school year. Their parents don’t understand where they’re coming from. They don’t even feel human. This is the time to address this in 2019.”

“We have offered training in the past, it is scheduled again in the fall,” Anello said.

However, both

“I agree this is a wonderful resolution,” Trustee Mary Rocha said. “But if we put up one flag, we need parameters or we’ll be putting up different flags.”

“We don’t have a policy on flags going up,” Anello. “I do believe we need to treat all groups similar. To codify that into policy, I would recommend that to the board.”

“I fully support the group. I think it’s a wonderful resolution,” Board Vice President Diane Gibson-Gray. “But it opens a door we’re not ready to open with this resolution at this time. I’m going to recommend we don’t raise a flag with this one.”

“I did some research into this. The California Ed Code recognizes this month as LGBTQ Awareness Month,” Householder responded.

“Does the flag go up at all school or just one spot?” Rocha asked.

“Will it be the African American resolution or the Black History Month resolution or the Autism Awareness resolution,” asked Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White. “That’s three right there.”

“This resolution doesn’t necessarily say we’re definitely going to raise this flag, it represents this district’s celebration of diversity,” Householder argued.

She also asked for a celebration and a flag raising, then think about it for next year.

“The week after (next) the city council is also doing a flag raising, as well,” Householder stated.

“This costs us so little and it means the world to them and it’s a matter of life and death,” she added. “The impact this will have for our young people and the community as a whole.”

Only two people spoke during public comments, both in favor of the resolution.

“You’re opening a door to my closet,” said Deb Hubbard, Vice President of the Antioch Education Association and a teacher at Antioch Middle School for 12 years. “I’m 58. I started in this district when I was 36. When I was about 32 I came out to my parents. They were good, Christian Lutherans dragging me to church. My parents said you are our daughter, Deb we love you know matter what. I was lucky. I was blessed. I didn’t even come out to my colleagues until Rachel Zinn at Dallas Ranch.”

She spoke about being bullied by students.

“Please open this door to the closet for all of our students,” Hubbard said. “We are 10% of the population. We are 10% of the Irish, of the KKK, 10% of the autistic kids. We have 16,500 students in this district…1,650 students are gay, lesbian, transgendered, queer whatever you want to call it.”

“For those of you worried about flying it at elementary schools, honey, I can’t make a straight person gay any more than you can make me straight,” she continued. “Grow some courage and put the flag up at the district and every single school.”

“I will vote no if it has the revision,” Gibson-Gray said. “I will vote yes without the revision.”

The resolution including the language regarding flying the rainbow “pride” flag passed 3-2 with Gibson-Gray and Rocha voting no.

The resolution reads as follows:

Antioch Unified School District Board of Education

RESOLUTION 2018-19-31

Proclaiming

LGBTQ Pride Month

June 2019

 Whereas, June is a time to celebrate our dynamic LGBTQ community, raise awareness of quality services, and foster a dialogue to promote healthy, safe, and prosperous school climates and communities for all; and

Whereas, all children and youth should be able to attend school in a safe and inclusive environment free from discrimination, and civil rights laws contribute to such environments; and

Whereas, explicit federal statutory protections currently address discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, but not sexual orientation or gender identity; and

Whereas, the lack of awareness and understanding of issues facing LGBTQ children and youth has contributed to higher rates of school dropout, academic failure, and school disengagement; and

Whereas, education regarding LGBTQ issues increases understanding and cultivates respect for LGBTQ children and youth; and

Whereas, harassment and bullying policies that specifically mention sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression are associated with: students feeling more safe; lower levels of bullying; decreased incidents of harassment related to sexual orientation; increased teacher/staff interventions; and a greater reporting of incidents; and

Whereas, Board Policy 5145.9 prohibits discrimination in its programs and activities based on gender or sexual orientation, among other characteristics; and

Whereas, the rainbow flag, also known as the LGBT pride flag, serves as a symbol of Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender pride and LGBT social movement; and

Whereas, flying the rainbow flag throughout the month of June further symbolizes the District’s celebration of diversity and support for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender community.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Antioch Unified School District recognizes the month of June 2019 as LGBTQ Pride Month to inspire equity, create alliances, celebrate diversity, and establish a safe environment in our schools and community; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this resolution be distributed to every school in the District.

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One Comment to “AUSD Board approves LGBTQ Pride Month resolution on 3-2 vote”

  1. Michael Kitterman says:

    School should be a place to go to learn. I support LGBT 100%, but everyone knows that it’s a controversial issue. Why the hell would a school district want to put, and bring attention to something that may distract the students? Teaching tolerance in the class room would be quite appropriate in my opinion, but making a public political statement is not a school’s business no matter what the subject is.

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