The Hilliard School Board has deemed a display of LGBTQ+ support in Hilliard Davidson High School to be “political” and “not appropriate.”
On February 16, Assistant Principal Kristen Clausen sent an e-mail to teachers with the agenda for a 20-minute block of time set aside in the students’ daily schedule to recognize Black History Month. In the outline, she included language from Jahari, a student who is working with some members of the Hilliard City Council to expand that Columbus suburb’s nondiscrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, disability, marital status and pregnancy.
A three-minute video detailing these efforts and created by Hilliard students was also included with the agenda for the teachers to screen.
Students were then to be given the option to support these efforts:
Please let students know that if they are interested in writing a letter to City Council supporting this bill, that they can do so and drop them off in the Main Office either in the designated box or to Mrs. Smith no later than next Wednesday, 2/24 as we will be in remote learning that Thursday and Friday.
The Center for Christian Virtue—an Ohio Christian public policy organization that promotes “marriages between one man and one woman” and “girls-only sports”—caught wind of the e-mail and launched into action.
“This is an unprecedented violation of the public trust,” said Aaron Baer, president of Center for Christian Virtue. “For Hilliard public schools to turn students into lobbyists is bad enough. But to pressure students to lobby for something as dangerous and controversial as a Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity Bill is wholly unacceptable. What’s worse, to order teachers to endorse legislation as harmful as a Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity law is incredibly unethical.
To address what he described as an “unbelievable breach of the public and parents’ trust,” Baer demanded that the Hilliard School Board retract the e-mail immediately and issue an apology to all students and teachers.
On February 18, the Hilliard School Board released a statement calling Clausen’s e-mail “not appropriate” :
The Hilliard City Schools’ board of education and administration has been clear on their support of diversity and inclusion of all students and supports our students’ personal involvement in the political process as they choose. However, board policy sets clear expectations that literature promoting or opposing political figures, candidates or issues not be distributed in the school setting. In this case, we understand that students were not required to write letters in support of a particular issue, but any distribution of political literature to our students was not appropriate and should not have occurred. We discussed this with all involved and set new guidelines to assure this type of situation does not reoccur.
- Contact the Hilliard School Board with your take on the appropriateness of informing high school students of student-led civic engagement efforts to achieve equality: