Yesterday evening a group of concerned people appeared at the San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District’s (SLVUSD) Board of Trustees’ meeting. We attended in order to register our objection over the Board’s intended decision to again fly the Rainbow Flag – the LGBTQ+ Pride Flag – over the SLVUSD’s public school campuses. Displaying this flag, in this manner, is a gross violation of conscience for some students, teachers, and administrators of religious conviction, not to mention an otherwise inappropriate action for an elected civic body. My last blog post will give you more of the background to this matter. If you scroll through the posts in 2022 and 2021, you’ll find the issue addressed on several other occasions.
Regrettably, the Board’s decision last night was as expected. They voted unanimously to repeat their prejudicial action. That wasn’t surprising, though it was disappointing. Once again, I, and others with me, felt as if we were shouting into the wind. That makes me grateful to be in the boat with the One who controls the wind; a position I did not earn and do not deserve.
From my perspective, worse even than the Board’s repetition of this inappropriate action was their complete disregard of all those present to express concern. Here some background might be helpful. I first began addressing the Rainbow Flag with the Board in 2021. I won’t describe all the details, but over the course of two years, through multiple letters, emails, and appearances at meetings, the Board has failed to engage me, or anyone I know, in substantive conversation over this matter. They’ve simply ignored it. The most substantive response I’ve received was a three-paragraph email, in April 2022, from the SLVUSD Superintendent, Chris Schiermeyer. Needless to say, Mr. Schiermeyer’s response did not answer the objections I raised, not by a longshot. My rejoinder to Mr. Schiermeyer specifically asked for the Board to continue the conversation and respond in writing. All of this you can see via the linked documents in my last post. What did I receive back? Radio silence. Last night that radio silence continued, and not just with respect to me. More on that in a moment.
During the meeting yesterday evening, it became clear that the Board is indeed able to respond to those who petition it. Even individual members of the Board can respond to matters brought to its attention. Multiple persons appeared to express their thanks for the Board’s engagement with the district’s music program. It seems that the Board, even individual members, actively communicated with those seeking to boost the district’s music education. I commend their doing so. Why then has the Board found itself unable to engage with me and others on the serious issue of flying the Rainbow Flag in violation of religious conscience? Doesn’t this issue warrant at least as much engagement as the question of instruments for music students? Don’t the students and parents concerned in this matter warrant the same consideration and respect from the Board as those seeking to help the music program? I would think so. Apparently, the Board does not.
I’ll tell you why I know they don’t. When it came time to speak yesterday, I rose and addressed the Board first. You can read my statement (delivered essentially as written) here. When I spoke, an entire group of individuals stood in support. Following me, a second man also spoke in opposition to the Board’s plan to fly the Rainbow Flag. Later, when it came time to vote on the resolution regarding the flag, the Board unanimously affirmed the measure, as it has done for the last two years running. They did so with many of us still present, not twenty feet away, watching and listening. In the process of voting, not one of these elected individuals even showed the courtesy of acknowledging our presence and concern. They could have done so. After the motion was seconded, before the vote was taken, one of them could have acknowledged us and the issue we raised. They didn’t. They acted as if we did not exist, and our words were never spoken. That’s profoundly disrespectful. Worse, it’s cowardly.
The SLVUSD Board of Trustees has tripled down on its decision to prejudicially ignore the conscience of those within its care for whom the Rainbow Flag represents an affront to their religious convictions. If you need to understand the logic to this point, please read the document from 2022 linked here. Mind you, I’m not saying the Board can’t express its support for persons holding an LGBTQ+ worldview. If it discerns a need to do so, it may. But it should not, it must not, take such action in a manner that coerces the conscience of students and staff who otherwise need to access SLVUSD campuses.
How should we whom the Board again ignored respond to yesterday’s events? How should we respond to this multi-year saga? There’s a definite temptation to anger, frustration, and helplessness. I’d love in the future to see the Board manned with people who will listen to, and respectfully engage with, parents, voters, and students who year-after-year address a serious matter. I’d love to see another viable alternative education option available in the SLV (that’s a matter for another post). But how do we respond this morning to the disrespect and frustration of yesterday? The Lord gave me an answer from his Word, namely Psalm 4. Listen to the words of God, and consider them in light of what I’ve expressed here:
“Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.
O sons of men, how long will my honor become a reproach? How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception?
But know that the LORD has set apart the godly man for Himself; The LORD hears when I call to Him.
Tremble, and do not sin; Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And trust in the LORD.
Many are saying, ‘Who will show us any good?’ Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O LORD! You have put gladness in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety.’” – Psalm 4 (NASB).
Praise God for words such as these! I won’t give you my personal rumination on each verse, but perhaps you can see why they’re so apropos this morning. I read them and I’m encouraged. The SLVUSD Board of Trustees should read them and take warning. As I concluded my remarks to them last night, “You will answer for your decisions one day. Not to me, but to the one true judge. That should give you pause.” It should give the Board of Trustees pause to year-by-year treat people they’re charged to serve with such disregard.
I close with a prayer for myself. “Oh Lord, give me a heart of compassion and mercy for the members to the SLVUSD Board of Trustees. I need it! Change their hearts and forestall their actions with regard to this flag. Amen.”
2 thoughts on “SLVUSD Board Triples Down in Prejudice”
Your sermon of hatred is not welcome in SLV.
Sadly, it seems you haven’t taken the opportunity to understand the issue. Or, maybe you’re unwilling to do so? To object against public officials coercing the religious conscience of students and staff is not a thing of hatred. It’s a thing of principle.