POST EDITORIAL: Oregon Trail School District should ban symbols of hate
Adults everywhere face the humbling realization from time to time that they aren't perfect. Collectively, that's happening today in Sandy, where it's taken a group of audacious high school students to challenge their elders into action by asking that the Confederate flag and other symbols of racially based hatred be banned from school campuses.
The teens also want assurances that students of color and students of the LGBTQIA+ community have a voice in student government, even if they represent only 24% of the school enrollment. They just want to be heard.
So far, the group's online petition at change.org has attracted more than 4,800 signatures. The Post's initial reporting on the effort was published July 1 on our website, social media and the print edition.
We are now learning that the Oregon Trail School District Board of Directors will hold a workshop at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 30, where it will "discuss board policy." That's a vague statement, but we hope it means that the student request will receive a full hearing and genuine consideration by the district's elected leaders.
This student request is coming at the same time that the professional football team in Washington, D.C., has come to the long-awaited conclusion that its mascot was offensive to Indigenous people. On the same day as that announcement, professional baseball teams in Atlanta and Cleveland came under public pressure to change their mascots.
These developments were a long time coming for these professional teams. But consider that a tiny school district in rural Joseph, Ore., came to this conclusion on its own 23 years ago when Enterprise High School evicted its offensive mascot, which was an ugly, painful, racial slur to members of the Nez Perce tribe.
Yes, adults, times are changing. And we can either stand in the way, get out of the way, or pave the way.
But no matter what choice we make, our children are not going to accept an academic culture that condones racial bullying in the hallways and classrooms at our schools. Academic excellence is consistently linked to safe schools, which is, in part, measured by the level of bullying and racial discord.
The Confederate flag as we know it has become a symbol of white supremacy. That's an image that no student of color should ever be asked to endure within the "safe" walls of their school.
Going forward, the Confederate flag and the German swastika should only appear in well-crafted curricula on U.S. and world history, providing students with fact-based lessons on what those symbols stand for and who used them.
Coming up later this month, the Oregon Trail School District's Board of Directors will have a chance to do the right thing by supporting this student petition. And for good measure, such a decision would set a standard for other school districts to follow across the state.
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