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December 7, 2023
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PRJUSD board protects traditional language in schools

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A packed house for the August 23 board meeting

PRJUSD Board passes an item that protects traditionally gendered language

The PRJUSD school board started off the new school year with a renewed discussion about identity and representation in the classroom with the passing of a resolution 4-3 at the August 23 board meeting: the resolution works to protect traditionally-gendered language (mother, father, boys, girls) in schools and was proposed by board member Dorian Baker as a defense against a now-dropped NEA proposal that advised a non-gendered school environment. 

The approval follows a 2021-2022 school year well known for various board and school controversies, many of which involved the discussion of LGBTQ+ related issues. Such conversations prompted action through the Coming Out Against Hate event and set the tone for a year of further student activism with an LGBTQ+ task force formed to further understand related problems. Despite these steps taken to bridge the gap of understanding, PRJUSD seems more split than ever on this topic. 

Opponents of the resolution worry a move towards traditional family and gender terminology isn’t reflective of the entire student body, but supporters see such as a non-concern and reiterate that such terms are respectful and inoffensive. Both sides, however, seem to worry about a possible over-politicization: one side upholding traditional roles and default understanding of gender and sexual identity while the other is worried about how this focus might exclude members of PRHS staff and student populations.

Superintendent Curt Dubost started the discussion with a note on polarization: “I don’t want us ever to dissolve into two separate school systems,” Dubost said, “so I continue to try and find a compromise…” 

Dubost’s statement was partly a response to a previous board meeting on August 9, which discussed removing LGBTQ+ focused protections from district bullying policies. The resolution ultimately didn’t take off and was tabled after a fervent community response against the bill, pending further legal and community study later in the fall. 

Superintendent Curt Dubost addresses the room

The terminology policy passed at the August 23 meeting still includes previous protections, such as students’ right to be called by their chosen pronouns, in place, but opponents to the policy worry about the precedent the resolution sets. 

Goodnow delivering her public comment

Marcy Goodnow, PRHS director of theater arts who authored and delivered a letter into the microphone Thursday night regarding issues at both August 2022 board meetings, worries about how this and future discussions will affect LGBTQ+ youth who attend Paso schools. “My interpretation of the tone of the board is: ‘you can’t make our teachers or our staff say anything they don’t want to say.’”

On the other hand, board president Chris Arend noted a sense of over-dramatization of the public comment, opting to reread the resolution after the public comment’s conclusion. The resolution makes a statement on the confusion regarding traditionally gendered titles, and upon reading this section, he opted to comment.

“You don’t think there’s confusion out there?” Arend said, referring to the spilt public responses. “Just look at the discussion we’ve had tonight.”

Trustees Dorian Baker, Frank Triggs, Chris Bausch, and Chris Arend voted in favor while trustees Nathan Williams, Tim Gearhart, and Lance Gannon voted against. 

Other news from the meeting includes the swearing-in of new student board representative Olivia Wright. The next morning meeting will be on September 18, 2022.


Students showing support for LGBTQ+


PRHS teachers (including Jennifer Fuller and Evan Holtz) advocate for kindness while in the crowd


Junior Sprout Aragon (Equality Club Vice President 2021-2022) speaks at public comment


Senior Israel Perez addresses the board


Junior Eve Barajas (Equality Club President 2021-2022) shares her speech during public comment


Board meeting crowd

READ MORE

 Paso Robles school board OKs resolution on traditional titles

Paso Robles school board tables LGBTQ bullying policy talks

Teachers pen letter to school board addressing LGBTQ+ guidelines

Paso parents and school board push to discuss LGBTQ policy

All Photos by Miguel Muniz
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About the Contributor
Kalani Gaviola, Editor-in-Chief
Kalani Gaviola, senior, is one of the Editor-in-Chiefs of Crimson Newsmagazine, as well as co-InDepth Director. This is her second year as Editor-in-Chief and InDepth Director, and her third year in Crimson. Outside of Crimson, she is a varsity Cross Country and Track athlete, ASB Staff and Student Director, and an enjoyer of creative writing, reading, and drawing.
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