Anti-Trump bias affects US public schools: Open letter to my Oregon community
As a parent, my concern this week has been with the violence and hatred promoted by the losing party. Destruction of property, disruption of public access to roads and services, arson, and assault were the only threat I felt this week
By Lia Fowler*
This Saturday, the School District Superintendent and members of the School Board in my Oregon community published a letter meant to reassure parents that, despite the national election results, schools would remain inclusive and free of language that denigrates others based on “gender, religion, origin, race, sexual orientation, or ability.” Missing from this list — and sorely needed, as the past four nights of violence indicate — was any commitment to ensuring inclusion and protection of different political affiliations or beliefs.
Implicit in the Superintendent’s letter is the idea that the President-elect and those who voted for him promote a racist and sexist agenda. The need to reiterate the District’s policy by stating, “we want to make it very clear that there is no place in our schools for threats or overt acts of bigotry, bullying, racism, or any language that denigrates others…” presupposes that there are those in our community who, by virtue of their political affiliation, would suddenly be inclined to adopt such behavior. Such language promotes the stereotype and labeling that the District is purporting to oppose. It is worrisome that I should feel the need to remind the Superintendent and the Board that voting for the President-elect does not make anyone racist, bigoted, misogynistic or a bully.
As a parent, my concern this week has been with the violence and hatred promoted by the losing party. Destruction of property, disruption of public access to roads and services, arson, and assault were the only threat I felt this week. It was literally unsafe to travel to Portland. It was reported that the leader of the so-called “peaceful” demonstrators advised protesters not to try to stop any destructive acts so as to not “censor their activism.” It took three nights of violence for the Portland Police to decide to put an end to this nonsense. Yet no mention at all was made of this in the Superintendent’s letter. The silence of the authorities, the leadership, the Superintendent and the School Board on these violent protests tacitly condones the very behavior they claim to denounce. It seems that bullying, intimidation and violence are tolerated when they align with certain political views.
As a Latino woman, married to a man of Middle Eastern descent, and mother to children with certain special needs, I have always found our school to be an inclusive, wonderful place of learning and growing for my kids. The Superintendent’s letter, however, makes me wonder how inclusive the District is of different political beliefs.
Situations like this are arising inschool districts across the country. Time would be better spent thinking about what we have failed to teach our students about civics, democracy, and losing gracefully.
*Lia Fowler is an American journalist and former FBI Special Agent