Ignoring problems solves nothing

July 3, 2017

A Cape High student recently appeared before the Cape board about being sent home from school by an administrator for wearing a T-shirt charging Cape supports homophobia, racism, sexism, transphobia and bullying.

As the Cape Gazette has previously noted, the board did not respond, citing board policy against discussing a matter not listed on the agenda.

So a student who had come to the board to raise serious issues simply left.

Had board members been seriously concerned about how gay, lesbian and trans students feel about school, they could have placed the issue on the agenda and asked students to speak.

They could also have attended a meeting, sparked by the T-shirt incident, sponsored by CAMP Rehoboth. Yet no administrators and only one board member, Roni Posner, attended, but she did not speak.

Instead, Posner later spoke to the Cape Gazette, saying she hoped different groups can work together. Board members contacted following the meeting had similar responses. One was disheartened by the issues students raised, another said her heart was with the students, and a third called for training.

This response is, again, woefully insufficient. Anyone elected to the school board should be prepared to step out of their comfort zone to listen when students speak publicly about their school experience. It's the board's job to ensure that Cape schools are welcoming places for all students. To do this board members must take time to listen and learn.

Students are asking the board for protection from students – and from teachers – they say are bullies. The administration's only response so far is a letter to teachers supporting diversity, stating intolerance will not be tolerated.

While there are many sides to any complex issue, had the administration and the school board been more responsive to the T-shirt incident, it's possible the CAMP Rehoboth meeting would not have been needed.

Students, administrators and school board members must improve communication on these vital issues so they can establish the diverse, welcoming place all say they want.

  • Editorials are considered by the editorial board and written by Dennis Forney, publisher, and Laura Ritter, news editor, with occasional contributions from other board members: Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; Nick Roth, sports editor; and Chris Rausch, associate publisher.