After months of lobbying by the LGBT community, the Springfield Public Schools Board (SPSB) decided not to offer a statement of support for the gay community.
Board members instead chose to stand behind their strategic plan, which they said includes all students, including LGBTQ students, said The Springfield Daily Citizen.
“As adopted through our strategic plan, the board has demonstrated that students are first and foremost our top priority, and we are unified in this effort,” Board member Steve Makoski said at the board meeting considering the statement, according to the Daily Citizen. “Anyone who implies different is being intellectually dishonest, and it serves no other purpose than to drive a hidden agenda.”
Board member Shurita Thomas-Tate made a motion to consider such a statement, but it was not seconded by any other member of the board, so it failed.
The board minutes merely note, “Board member request to add agenda item for a Request of Statement of Support for LGBTQ,” with no recorded action.
Makoski was previously criticized for saying that gender identity issues are just a distraction from academics in the classroom.
Board member Dr. Maryam Mohammadkhani has also expressed some concerns about aspects of LGBT culture inside schools.
Mohammadkhani questioned the lunch-hour meetings of a Genders & Sexualities Alliances club in one of the district’s schools – meetings, which she said, were actually led by staff, not students.
Board member Kelly Byrne advocated the removal of pride flags and “safe space” stickers, saying that they lead to conversations that are inappropriate for teachers, according to the Springfield Daily Citizen.
“We do have professionals that these conversations can be directed to, and parents or guardians should be included in those,” Byrne said. “I think it’s dangerous when we have teachers promote themselves as a person or a place to have these conversations without others around.”
However, local LGBT lobbyists recently presented the board with a draft statement that demanded “elected school leaders to acknowledge harms caused by homophobia and transphobia and to enforce policies that prohibit discrimination, harassment and bullying,” according to local KSMU.
“We’ve been asking the board for five months now to issue a statement of support for our LGBTQ+ students, staff and our families, and that has gone completely unanswered by the board,” Brittany Dyer, a prominent gay activist told KSMU.
Makoski dismissed such statements as political activism that has little practical value.