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Herald Journal | DC Enterprise-Dispatch | Delano Herald Journal
Letter: Diversity signs raise concern, and rightly so
May 15, 2017


Controversial “diversity” signs posted around Delano Public School District have parents concerned. And rightly so. What some teachers and district officials see as a promotion of diversity and inclusion of all is viewed by others as a promotion of only one group of people. Which calls into question the intent of the posters, and if they even belong in classrooms in the first place.

The rainbow-colored signs were distributed by the local teachers’ union to its members to make all students “feel welcome.” Teachers then had the choice whether to display the sign or not. The signs read: “Diverse, Inclusive, Accepting, Welcoming, Safe Space For Everyone.”

But what about students who don’t feel represented and included by rainbow symbology? Decorating the posters with a color scheme commonly linked to one particular movement – the LGBT community – risks excluding those with different viewpoints and defeating the original intent of the messaging.

So, what’s the solution? Mary Eskola, a former teacher and mother to seven students currently in Delano schools, feels common ground surrounding the controversy is possible. She reached out to the Center of the American Experiment to voice her concern – and the concern of at least 20-25 other families – and suggested an easy solution:

“I feel like it would be a real easy solution to change the poster from rainbow colors to orange and black, which are Delano’s school colors. That’s the common ground on this issue. Then the poster would truly make all children feel welcome. It’s kind of amazing this very reasonable request hasn’t been accommodated. It’s a beautiful poster, it’s well-made, but visually, it does single out one group.”

The union made the signs in response to a black family’s home being broken into and spray-painted with racist graffiti in March. The Delano community responded by coming together and speaking out against racial targeting, expressing an “all are welcome” mentality.

Eskola further shared: “The media has done a really good job portraying Delano as a community that is rife with racial tension and a school campus that is intolerant . . . I don’t know if there are a lot of gay kids at school and whether or not they feel harassed and persecuted, but I know that is not what we teach our kids to do at home.”

Eskola alludes to a key point. Discussing inclusivity and acceptance are important conversations for parents and families to have at home around the dinner table. These topics should not be turned into a political agenda that makes its way into classrooms and interferes with students’ learning.

Eskola felt the need to keep her younger children home from school for a day to protest the signs. Her older son felt conflicted about staying home, but he was also worried going to school would be perceived as him caving in and endorsing a message linked to one group of people that does not reflect his family’s viewpoints. He shouldn’t have to worry about this.

As a former teacher, I know schools promote and push for parent involvement. It makes a huge difference in a child’s education and success. Parents – like Mary Eskola – are showing they want to be involved and are voicing their concerns to help all students feel represented, not just one group. Let’s hope the Delano Public School District hears them.

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