Rage & Goodness at Our Local School Board Meetings

Last Sunday, Rev. Karen talked about finding ways to interact with someone whose values directly contradict your own. Hold yourself loosely, she said. Practice curiosity. If you missed the incredibly rich conversation Rev. Karen had with Rev. Elaine last Sunday, be sure to check it out on our re-vamped Foothills podcast (also available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify).
 
Rev. Karen’s wisdom has been especially helpful to me in the last few days as I’ve been considering how to keep holding a sense of human goodness in spite of some pretty convincing evidence to the contrary. In particular, the evidence showing up at local School Board meetings.
 
Over the last few months, all across the country, School Board meetings have become the new site for political extremism. Right-wing activists have repeatedly attempted to direct conservative attention towards our schools in an effort to keep a culture-war-oriented conversation going. And, as described in this article, it’s working.  
 
Naively, I imagined that the sort of conversations I’ve read about happening in Arizona or Kentucky or Michigan would stay far from our own local school districts. However, over the last couple of months, it’s become increasingly clear that this is not the case – and we need to pay attention.  
 
Just as has happened in other communities, the anti-masking voices have joined with pre-existing anti-GLBT (especially anti-trans) activists, who, in turn, have joined ill-informed and fundamentally racist fears around Critical Race Theory. More recently, all of these have connected with anti-immigrant and Islamophobic sentiments stirred up by refugees coming from Afghanistan, as well as continued racist lies about immigrants arriving at our southern border being sources of COVID.  
 
This combination of vested interests in fear, ignorance, and hate has been making a powerful and loud show in and around school board meetings across Northern Colorado – PSD, Thompson, and Weld RE-4 – and they are not slowing down. Many of their loudest and most dangerous speakers are now running for school board seats. It’s hard to convey just how ugly and painful their comments and actions have been and how dangerous they could be if further empowered.
 
“Rage is a sincere desire for goodness,” Rev. Karen said. And I want so much goodness in our schools and for our kids and the school staff. I’m guessing you do too.  
 
Which is why I hope you’ll join me in organizing on behalf of equity, inclusion, anti-racism, safety, and love.  
 
I know many of you don’t have kids in our schools; that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be in this work. Many of the anti-mask and anti-GLBT voices in recent board meetings have been from older adults speaking to values for their grandchildren. Besides, while you may not be a parent in the district, you are a voter. (And if you live outside of northern Colorado, please check out the school board conversations in your area – I would bet that similar things are happening there too!) 
 
Here are some ways to get involved:  

  • Join the PSD Parents in Support of Equity and Science Facebook page (you’ll have to let me know if you want to join as it is invite-only) to stay up to date on the organizing conversation;  
  • Attend an upcoming board meeting and speak up on behalf of mask-wearing and other COVID precautions, as well in support of GLBTQ friendly policies and education;  
  • Write to the school boards to let them know you are a voter and you support following science, GLBTQ-inclusive, and anti-racist education and supports; 
  • Pay attention to the upcoming school board races and support candidates who support science, GLBTQ-inclusion, and anti-racism. These races are often decided by hundreds if not dozens of voters; and 
  • Talk to your friends and neighbors who may not know anything about these efforts and invite them to join you. 

 
Recently, a group of us as local clergy came together to write this letter to the school board that you can feel free to use as an example and/or cut and paste directly into your letter. 
 
We can work in service of these values, even while remaining respectful and genuinely curious in interacting with others. Even when all evidence points to the contrary, we can connect our rage and grief back to the persistence of human goodness.  
 
Please join us for another incredible conversation this Sunday when Rev. Sean will speak live with Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen. Hope to see you there.
 
In partnership, 
 
Rev. Gretchen 

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