OPINION: The way forward is inclusion, not intolerance
The stunning decision made by the Newberg School District school board really is embarrassing.
As an employee of a school district that has students from over 50-plus nationalities, I feel bad for the students who don't have a voice in their school and are being shamed based on their gender and race. This is 2021, not 1968.
As someone who has worked in public education for over 20-plus years, I have seen and heard racists and homophobic comments towards students and the unsafe culture in instills in schools.
Students need to feel safe and heard to be able to succeed in school. I just read a story of a 14-year-old student who came out to her parents, and they were not accepting. She tried to kill herself.
I have personally worked with administrators who were racists, and I could see how they treated not only staff but students differently based on their bias.
We need as a society to look beyond our biases and support all students. They all have a right to a safe workplace and also a safe place to learn. I would be curious to know how many employees of the district feel unsafe based on this decision by the school board. And what about the students and staff's First Amendment rights? They are creating a hostile environment for these students.
Most high schools in my district have clubs for students of color and the LGTBQ community. There are teachers on staff that support students in their activities. We are inclusive because we have many students of different nationalities.
I see that today's kids are much more accepting that older generations. They look to their friends as just a person who they like and don't judge them based on the color of their skin or their sexuality. They are supportive of each other and make a stand for that they believe is right.
It is time to realize what school boards are doing and we as parents and educators need to support all students no matter who they are and support their goals to be a productive member of our society.
Think of the great Jackie Robinson and what he went through to break barriers in baseball. Harriet Tubman and Ida Wells were strong women of their time who fought for their rights and made history. Elton John is one of the top singers of our times, and Oscar Wilde a very famous writer. All of these individuals have had very successful careers, and we need to look back at our lives and say we did the right thing for humanity.
In 1964, my best friend in grade school was an African American girl. We adored each other and were best friends. Both her parents went on to be leaders in Oregon as a state representative and as a senator. They were great role models for their children.
School should always be a safe place to learn for all students and staff and equity is an issue that should be addressed in the Newberg School District. I support their students and staff who need a voice to have a safe place to learn and thrive.
Cherise Arthur is campus supervisor for Westview High School in the Beaverton School District. She lives in Beaverton.
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