Brett Bigham, Oregon Teacher of the Year, has yet to be fired in a dispute that began with an accusation of discrimination

The Multnomah Education Service District took part in Saturday’s Portland Pride Parade festivities, after an incoming board member urged them to take more interest in this show of LGBTQ support.

Stephen Marc Beaudoin, who is gay and was elected over incumbent Doug Montgomery May 19, said the move was long overdue.

“We have some work to do to repair the relationship with the LGBT community,” Beaudoin said. “My remark was: ‘What’s taken us so long?’ This should not be a ground-breaking endeavor.”

Though the agency initially anticipated 30-50 participants, about a dozen members of the MESD marched behind a banner.

“We were thrilled to participate,” said MESD spokeswoman Laura Conroy. “We are already looking to the 2016 Pride Festival and to marching enthusiastically in the parade again.”

This year was not the first time the school district had been represented in the parade.

Last year, Oregon’s 2014 Teacher of the Year Brett Bigham, a special educator at MESD, was in the parade.

“The gay community hungers for role models, so a gay Teacher of the Year was celebrated by the community,” Bigham says, who, while still technically an employee, was not invited to march. “(Planning to fire) me two days before Pride and then marching in the Pride Parade leaves me a little speechless, to be honest.”

Bigham is in a protracted battle with the district that started over remarks that he says were homophobic. The district says Bigham missed too many class days and published inaccurate statements. Read more: Why Was Oregon's Teacher of the Year Brett Bigham Fired?

The teacher was placed on leave March 20, fired April 3 and then rehired April 21 after union complaints of due process. He was scheduled to be fired again June 12 under a settlement agreement, but that meeting was delayed again.

Beaudoin, who was elected on a platform of change, said he wants to make it clear that MESD is an inclusive place that welcomes diversity in its employees and students.

“The statement that we’re making with this (Pride Parade) appearance is we value and support diversity,” he said. “Really this is MESD saying: ‘It’s about time.’ ”

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