Tuesday, October 4

An Ohio Board of Education just banned teachers from displaying…RAINBOWS

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The New Richmond Exempted Village School District Board of Education (NREVSD) has issued new directives to teachers and staff in the middle school that LGBTQ+ advocates say will severely affect the health and safety of LGBTQ+ students in the school.

The small red dot represents New Richmond, located in the southwest corner of the state.

New Richmond is a small town of approximately 2,500 residents in Clermont County on the Ohio-Kentucky border.

Michelle Johnson, the founder of New Richmond Pride explained that three different staff members approached their organization, sharing that Principal Court Lilly verbally two delivered instructions to staff last week from the Board of Education:

  1. Forced removal of rainbow stickers or rainbow imagery that could indicate the teacher and/or classroom is a safe person/space to speak to/about LGBTQ+ issues.
  2. Halting the supply and use of forms which allow students the ability to provide their preferred gender identity, pronouns and name to use while at school.
Via a public records request, The Buckeye Flame obtained an e-mail that was sent from Lilly to all staff on September 22 describing a “politically charged era in time” and reiterating the ban on rainbows, directing teachers to remove “anything from [their]  rooms that has rainbows on it.”
In response, Johnson and other members of New Richmond Pride organized a presence at Monday’s NREVSD Board of Education meeting, with statements delivered during the public participation portion of the meeting from parents of LGBTQ+ students, LGBTQ+ parents, and LGBTQ+ alums of the school.
“We have come to show support for the staff members that are brave enough to have these tough conversations with our teens,” said Johnson in her remarks. “Don’t think for a moment that these conversations will only be about LGBTQ+ issues. These support stickers show all students which staff would be willing to listen to their problems. Showing support to the most vulnerable youth shows support to all youth.”
Others more directly challenged the Board.
“Why take away something that helped your students by providing a safe environment?” asked Jess Swafford, a New Richmond resident, local business owner, and vice-president of New Richmond Pride. “In what way could the support for our youth at such a pivotal age be considered wrong or political as you stated?”

New Richmond Exempted Village School District Board of Education

Despite their actions being called “oppressive and discriminatory,” the Board did not respond to any of the public comments to clarify, affirm, or deny their directives. The Board quickly moved on to the rest of their agenda after the emotional testimony had concluded. 

The members of the NREVSD Board of Education are Kristin Bennett, Tim DuFau, Kevin Walriven, Todd Wells, and Robert Wooten.
Board president Kristin Bennett sent an e-mail to New Richmond Pride today reiterating the district’s adherence to Title IX and to “supporting all of our students’ academic and social/emotional needs.” The letter did not directly address the principal’s email sent two days earlier or whether rainbows were still banned at the middle school.
Johnson told The Buckeye Flame that the staff who came forward were fearful of losing their jobs, despite wanting to support LGBTQ+ students. Ultimately, she says it is that support that could make all the difference for these vulnerable youth.
“40% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past twelve months,” said Johnson. “The actions taken here by the Board of Education that reduce the support of these students is just not ok.” 🔥
Ignite Action:
  • New Richmond Pride recommends that concerned individuals can lodge formal complaints with the superintendent (513-553-2616 x12102) and can e-mail state school board representative at Brendan.Shea@education.ohio.gov.
  • If you or someone you know is struggling, you are not alone. Some resources:
    • The BRAVO (Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization) helpline is open 9am – 7pm, Monday – Friday, and individuals can reach out via phone (1-866-862-7286), text (614-333-1907), or secure chat (bravo-ohio.org).
    • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-273-8255 or text TALK to 741741 to text with a trained counselor from the Crisis Text Line.
    • The Trevor Project (thetrevorproject.org/get-help-now) provides phone, chat and text support for LGBTQ+ youth.
    • The Trans Lifeline provides support for transgender people, by transgender people, at 1-877-565-8860.
    • The SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline (1-888-234-7243) provides peer support and local resources for older adults.
  • Register your school’s GSA with the Ohio GSA Network, coordinated by Kaleidoscope Youth Center who provide resources and support for Ohio GSAs and LGBTQ+ youth.

About Author

Ken Schneck is the Editor of The Buckeye Flame. He received the 2021 Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for the LGBTQ Journalist of the Year from the NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists. He is the author of "Seriously, What Am I Doing Here? The Adventures of a Wondering and Wandering Gay Jew" (2017), "LGBTQ Cleveland" (2018), "LGBTQ Columbus" (2019), and "LGBTQ Cincinnati" (2020). In his spare time, he is a professor of education at Baldwin Wallace University.

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  4. Absolutely stupid, a rainbow ain’t guna change anyone’s sexuality, if straight people can have representation then so can the LGBTQ+ community its called human rights

  5. Pingback: READ: The E-mail that was sent to teachers banning rainbows - The Buckeye Flame

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