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Oregon Education Department Calls for Safe Spaces
We must ensure that schools are safe and welcoming spaces for every student

In a controversial resolution, the Oregon State Board of Education has passed a resolution "Encouraging Solidarity and Support for Student Identities." Some observers see this as the imposition of political favoritism upon Oregon students by allowing and promoting certain Leftist ideas such as those of the Marxist political group -- Black Lives Matter -- while at the same time apparently discouraging any right-leaning political promotion.

The Board passed the resolution, which calls out the the Newberg School Board to reverse course on it's recent efforts to disallow political symbolism such as BLM and Pride flags from the Newberg public schools, and that certain other student identities are not political or controversial.

The "Resolution Encouraging Solidarity and Support for Student Identities" specifically calls on the Newberg School Board to encourage district staff to celebrate and stand in solidarity with students through the use of signs, flags, placards and symbols, and affirm in words, policy and action that every student is welcome, appreciated and ensured an equitable access to a high quality education in Newberg Public Schools. The Oregon State Board of Education is also encouraging Oregon School Boards to agree with the "Every Student Belongs" rule.

“Equity does not mean that one side gets ignored or favored. It is quite the opposite: we have a responsibility to create and maintain humane, livable spaces for children who have consistently lived on the brink of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion,” said Guadalupe Martinez-Zapata, Vice-Chair of the Oregon State Board of Education. “A minimal demonstration of that humanity, a flag, a banner, a sign, is all it could take for a student to feel safe. Each student is unique, and every one deserves our love and care.”

The resolution also encourages all districts to show in actions and in words that every student is affirmed in their identities and is made welcome in their schools, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, native language, immigration status, documentation status, age or disability.

“Now more than ever, we must work to ensure that our schools are safe and welcoming spaces for every student. We know that has not always been the case – in particular for our students of color, Indigenous, Tribal citizens, immigrants, English learners, and LGBTQ2SIA+ students, as well as our students who experience disability,” said Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill. “Student identity should be supported and celebrated, and we must recognize the unique needs and perspectives that our students bring.”

The resolution states that Oregon school districts can welcome and affirm student identity by modeling the use of inclusive language, encouraging the proactive creation of safe and affirming spaces, and engaging in honest and authentic dialogue with students on who they are and how best to serve their needs. School boards can also adopt similar resolutions, in consultation with their local communities, as long as those local decisions do not go against what the State Board of Education has decided.

The Oregon State Board of Education and the Oregon Department of Education claim that they remain committed to ensuring Oregon’s schools are safe and inclusive for all students and staff. The resolution says that symbolism of pride and Black Lives Matters slogans and insignia are statements of love and affirmation only, and indicate support and solidarity for those students who want to use those symbols. They do not meet the requirements of a hate symbol nor are they attached to specific political candidates or parties, even though BLM is known to be closely aligned with the Defund the Police movement and other left-leaning ideology.

The resolution makes no mention of the legality or constitutionality of creating policies based on race, nor how to deal with the expression of right-leaning students.

--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2021-09-16 22:28:31Last Update: 2021-09-16 22:35:02

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