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Central Bucks teachers protest district policy they say is discriminatory

“This is a policy born of discrimination and bigotry,” one teacher said.


Teachers from several Central Bucks School District schools and dozens of their supporters gathered Tuesday to protest a new policy they believe targets LGBTQ+ students.

“This is a policy born of discrimination and bigotry,” Keith Willard, a social studies teacher at Holicong Middle School, told the crowd of about 60 gathered outside the Central Bucks East High School campus Tuesday afternoon.

“It is negligent to take down support for these students,” said Willard, referring to Policy 321, that requires the removal of Pride flags from classrooms and bans teachers from participating in “advocacy activities.”

The policy, he said, is an attempt “to make LGBTQ+ students and support for them invisible.”

As cars drove by honking their horns in support of the protest and the crowd chanted “Repeal 321,” Willard said, “This is a community protest.”

Following recent passage of the policy in a 6-3 vote, school board president Dana Hunter called it “a win for neutrality in the classroom. This policy will allow teachers and students to focus on learning in an environment of mutual respect.”

The district’s superintendent scheduled several teacher meetings to discuss the controversial policy, which, the district said, “seeks to ensure classrooms are neutral when it comes to political and social advocacy in a spirit of balance and common sense.”

Teachers at Tuesday’s protest boycotted the first such meeting.

Stel Nemtsov, a substitute teacher at Tamanend Middle School, held a large yellow sign, reading “Protect our LGBTQ Students.” The policy, she said, “is so restrictive, it’s disheartening.”

A fellow substitute teacher, Aaron Loose, stood next to Nemtsov with a sign stating “Love Wins.” He said, “It’s important to support these students.”

Taking away the Pride flag, said Loose, removes a “symbol of safety, a place where students know they are safe and not judged. It’s not a symbol of division.”

Mike Sisco, a Doylestown Borough resident, said, “We’re losing the diversity we once had. I think we’re going in the wrong direction with equity and inclusion. I have a transgender daughter… and without support, she and others feel abandoned. Look at the suicide rate.”

Policy 321 follows a series of recent Central Bucks policies advocates say negatively impact LGBTQ+ students. In addition to those removing certain symbols, a separate policy established review of classroom and library materials for LGBTQ+, sexual and violent content. Another requires students be identified as the sex they were assigned at birth.

The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights is investigating an ACLU Pennsylvania complaint against the district alleging a “hostile” learning environment for LGBTQ students.

The district hired an attorney to investigate the ACLU complaint.

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