600 sign antiracism petition seeking action in Selinsgrove schools

Alumni present petition to school board in Selinsgrove

 

SELINSGROVE – Nearly 75 people were in attendance at last night’s Selinsgrove school board meeting where alumni organizers representing a larger group of current and former students, presented a petition of demands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, “We strongly believe that as a community we can and should do better to create a place where young people do not feel as though they need to leave our community in order to better understand power, privledge, and the way the world works. We can and should do better to create a place where all students feel supported and welcomed. Investing in these changes, we believe makes the school district and community better for all of us,” says 2011 graduate, Olivia Lemons.

 

She joined two other alumni in addressing the school board and says the petition has also gathered stories of trauma from both current and past students, “Among the over 600 respondents to this petition, there are many stories of students who reported racist, homophobic, transphobic, sexist, islamophobic, and anti-Semitic incidents. And, we found that when they reported these incidents the schools response was ‘lacking,’ ‘insensitive,’ or ‘absent entirely.’”

 

Parents in the District also addressed the board and Sophia Alvarez says community education is a top priority, “Let me reiterate. This community has been very white for a very long time. I’ve had come at me, I’ve had people spit at me. I’ve had really bad things that shouldn’t happen to anyone, because I care about people. Because I care about my kids. And, it’s not even a color thing, it’s a human thing. Where’s your compassion?”

 

Many were calling on the school district to address issues of racism after a video was posted on social media by current students calling for the “George Floyd Challenge.” The alumni organizers of the petition say they chose to use the word “demands” to express the urgency of the change they are asking for, which includes a change in school culture, more training for teachers, district transparency, and increased counseling and mental health resources.

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