An Ohio school has walked back an order requiring teachers to read a script and play a video for students encouraging them to lobby their city council in support of a Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity ordinance.
Hilliard City Schools in Hilliard, Ohio, sent an email earlier this month asking teachers to encourage their students to lobby their city council to pass an ordinance that would make sexual orientation and gender identity protected classes.
The school received pushback on the move, with one Ohio-based advocacy group calling the ordinance “controversial and dangerous” and saying that the ordinance “would require homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters to allow men to bathe and bunk with women. It would also require businesses and schools to allow men in women’s locker rooms or showers.”
“This is an unprecedented violation of the public trust,” said Aaron Baer, president of Center for Christian Virtue, in a statement at the time. “For Hilliard public schools to turn students into lobbyists is bad enough. But to pressure students to lobby for something as dangerous and controversial as a Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity Bill is wholly unacceptable.”
The CCV also said that teachers “should not be coerced to back such partisan and divisive legislation.”
The school has since retracted the mandate.
“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 school said in a statement. “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.”
The CCV said that while it is “grateful” the school retracted the order, it still seems to “ignore the gravity of their original actions.”
“The leadership at Hilliard Davidson needs to understand that celebrating diversity isn’t just about recognizing how we may look different. It’s also about respecting different perspectives and worldviews,” Baer said. “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.”
Read the initial email sent by Hilliard Davidson here.
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with The Ohio Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair.