An Ohio school district has abruptly reversed course after an assistant principal instructed teachers to urge students to support a local proposed ordinance that would allow men who identify as women to use the womens’ toilets and showers.
Kristen Clausen of Hilliard Davidson High School wanted students to contact the Hilliard City Council in support of a proposal that “can protect people” who make “sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression” and other lifestyle choices.
She asked teachers to read the following message to students: “The power of student voice is remarkable and transformational! Last September, Jahari, a Hilliard high school student, contacted Hilliard City Council as to ways in which he could make our community more inclusive and accepting of all people. Two City Council members asked Jahari to leverage the power of student voice to help them expand existing anti-discrimination laws so that our city can protect people who are from communities related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, disability, marital status and pregnancy because our current law in Hilliard does not include community members related to those classes. Jahari and other students in the Reaching Out to Cat Kids group got to work! Now, we need YOU. We need YOU to share with our elected officials in the form of a hard-copy letter why expanding the anti-discrimination legislation is necessary. If you have experienced discrimination because of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, disability, marital status and pregnancy, please share your experiences as well so we can help the people who serve us understand us and understand why we need legislation that protects all people. There is a box where you can turn in your letter in the main office.”
The instructions included a video link to show students. The video is a student production urging support for “protections” for alternative sexual lifestyles:
Opposition came, however, from the nonprofit Center for Christian Virtue, which said the memo to students failed to mention the harmful effects of the ordinance.
Among them are “requiring homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters to allow men to bathe and bunk with women. It would also require business and schools to allow men in women’s locker rooms or showers.”
The school quickly reversed itself, acknowledging in a statement by the board that it was inappropriate to use students in a political campaign.
“The Hilliard City Schools Board of Education and administration has been clear on their support of diversity and inclusion of all students and supports our students’ personal involvement in the political process as they choose. However, board policy sets clear expectations that literature promoting or opposing political figures, candidates or issues, not be distributed in the school setting,” the statement said.
“In this case, we understand that students were not required to write letters in support of a particular issue, but any distribution of political literature to our students was not appropriate and should not have occurred.
“We discussed this with all involved and set new guidelines to assure this type of situation does not reoccur,” the board said.
Aaron Baer, president of the Center for Christian Virtue, said, “While we’re grateful that the Hilliard administration recognizes turning teachers and students into lobbyists is an unethical breach of the public trust, their statement seems to ignore the gravity of their original actions.
Baer said there was “a fundamental failure and breach of trust that enabled a communication like the original email to go out.”
“It is a great responsibility public schools are entrusted with to shepherd young minds, and to abuse that power by forcing dangerous political agendas on students is wholly unacceptable,” he said.
“I am incredibly grateful for the strong community response to this disastrous email from the Hilliard administration. Because so many citizens and families rose up, your voice was heard, and teachers and students were spared from an unacceptable bullying and intimidation campaign.”
Baer said school officials need to understand that “celebrating diversity isn’t just about recognizing how we may look different.”
“It’s also about respecting different perspectives and worldviews. The original email from the Hilliard Davidson administration failed to honor this timeless truth, and CCV is committed to ensuring no student or teacher is ever intimidated like this again.”
A report by the faith-based news site Frontlines Ohio said Clausen was “using children as political pawns to promote her political agenda.”
It pointed out that state lawmakers in their last session refused to adopt a similar law.
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