UPDATE: Richland SD clarifies stance on LGBTQ groups
RICHLAND, Wash. — The Richland School District is responding to questions about Gay Straight Alliance student clubs at the middle school level.
The response follows several weeks of discussion between parents, LGBTQ students, and middle school administrators.
Enterprise Middle School 8th grader Reid Romine is a part of his school’s Equality Club, and said earlier in the month an LGBTQ support poster was required to be altered because it made “other students uncomfortable.”
He added it was his understanding the club was not encouraged to be classified as a Gay Staight Alliance (GSA).
The ACLU of Washington sent a letter to the school district detailing federal and state laws that protect such speech.
Superintendent Dr. Rick Schulte replied to the ACLU with his own letter clarifying the district’s policies.
A local parent forwarded that email message to KAPP-KVEW.
During the discussions, Dr. Schulte said he met with the middle school principals to: “provide my expectation that middle school student clubs organized under the ASB may use any name they choose, specifically including GSA.”
Dr. Schulte continued, addressing the issue of the poster that was taken down at the request of the administration.
According to Reid, it had a list of LGBTQ identities, crossed out and replaced with the words: “I am human.”
The poster was altered to include other marginalized identities.
“People overlooked the real message of what that was,” Reid said. “That no matter what you are, you are human.”
Dr. Schulte said in his email he was not aware of the poster’s content, but that such messages are typically protected:
“I informed the middle school principals that student posters are a form of protected free speech and that they can be limited only based on the standard stated in the Tinker vs. DesMoines Supreme Court ruling prohibiting restrictions on student speech in the absence of a strong likelihood of creating a serious disruption to school operations. The principal subsequently informed me that the student poster issue had been resolved.”
However, because the poster was forced to be altered, Reid is still pushing for more LGBTQ visibility.
He plans to present to the school board Tuesday at 6 p.m.