In an open letter, dozens of school board members from more than 20 Pennsylvania districts called for the repeal of Central Bucks School District’s policy banning teachers from “advocacy activities” in their classrooms.
“On the surface, the policy is clearly targeted to harm LGBTQ+ students and community members, with the immediate ban of Pride Flags in classrooms, but it has already harmed other historically marginalized groups,” the letter states.
Policy 321, titled, “Partisan, Political or Social Policy Advocacy Activities,” “has tainted the public’s trust in School Boards to foster educational, inclusive, and tolerant environments for learning,” reads the letter.
The policy was passed Jan. 10, in a 6-3 vote.
School boards play a “unique role in our society,” said the letter. “A crucial part of this mission is fostering an inclusive, tolerant environment, free from discrimination, bias or prejudice.
“This is particularly true for some of our most vulnerable populations of students — those facing any number of different, personal challenges or working to overcome traditional societal barriers.”
Signed by dozens of school directors in neighboring communities, as well as those in Pittsburgh, Stroudsburg, Norristown, Wissahickon, Allentown and others, the letter said school board members “are tasked with the creation of an environment that fosters learning for all students, and the advancement of policies that achieve this goal through tolerance, inclusion and equity.”
Central Bucks School Board President Dana Hunter and the district’s public relations firm did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Mindy Freeman, a parent of an LGBTQ student in Central Bucks, said she felt supported by the letter and the call to repeal the policy.
“I was happy to see the support from others, this is not just about CB,” she said. “This is wrong and discriminatory. It stifles the education of all students.”
The letter was signed by Central Bucks school board members Karen Smith and Mariam Mahmud. Director Tabitha Dell’Angelo was the third vote opposing the policy.
Smith said she agrees the policy “violates the human rights of students and staff.” And, she added, “It just adds to a long list of embarrassing and distracting measures keeping us from what we should be doing.” Instead of supporting students’ education, said Smith, “we’ve become a focal point of America’s culture wars.”