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Safe Spaces for ALL in Carroll County

This petition had 210 supporters

Dear Citizens:

The following is an open letter to the Westminster High School Community as well as to all Carroll Countians and beyond. We hope you will join us in signing this letter as a declaration of your intention to support our most vulnerable society members.

This series of declarations seek to support the teachers, students, staff and faculty who in good faith were making their classrooms a welcome place to all. It seeks to also declare support for the marginalized people in this community. And it is a promise to participate with students as they lead us all in fairness within their schools, while holding the Administration, Board of Education and others in authority to a moral, ethical, pragmatic and fair standard.

To the Westminster High School Community & To the Citizens of Carroll County:

We the undersigned are committed to:

Making it publicly known to anyone feeling disenfranchised, marginalized, or left out, that we support you. You are not alone. We declare to you that we will stand up and speak out for and with you; and hold accountable those who occupy positions of power and authority over you.

We realize that this may be the first time you have felt publicly acknowledged by people in your community. We the undersigned, your community, regret that it has taken us so long to openly advocate for and with you. But it is our hope that you may thrive in an environment that protects you and allows you to learn, explore, and grow in safety to become the best you can be. We will work with you to ensure all spaces are safe for everyone in Carroll County.

We state that we support teachers and staff who see the need to express empowering messages of safety and equality. We encourage you to continue creative ways of doing so. We are forever grateful for your bravery in adversity. And we take comfort in your guidance of the next generation.

We support the students and their efforts asking for the things they need in their public education. And we will follow them as they lead the way to solve issues of fairness in their schools. We also support their families. Regardless of age, sex, gender identity, ability, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, economic status, religion or creed, and declare that you also have our support.

We also express deep disagreement with the removal of the “We the People” posters at Westminster High School (WHS). We believe the use of the posters was aligned with the artist's stated intent: "to promote inclusivity and provide encouragement to those who feel powerless and deflated.” It is our understanding that the use of this Art was not partisan or political, but expressions of American Ideals. These posters and most importantly the people depicted in them are vulnerable in our society and deserve our respect.

We are also greatly disappointed that the Carroll County Board of Education (BoED) and Superintendent of CCPS stood by the decision to condemn the posters as political & partisan. Now forcing the questions of censorship in Art. As well as rocking the foundation of our Republic, where we are all to be treated equally and with Justice. The choice to remove these images shows a lack of empathy and understanding of the stated goals of CCPS education which include promoting equality, multiculturalism, diversity, and inclusion.

We do understand that this has become a divisive issue and that there are many conflicting considerations at work. We appreciate the letter sent home by WHS Principal Jefferey Hopkins to explain issues from the school point of view. However, the manner in which this entire situation has evolved has given us doubts as to any neutrality or compassion for minorities in the decision making process.

Our black, brown, and other minority children stand out in predominantly white schools and to disagree is to be colorblind to a dangerous fault. All people want to belong and have a place in social structures. School is a fundamental social structure. We teach children patience and tolerance for differences. Bullying is not allowed. Discrimination is not allowed. Because it is the law and because it is only decent to treat one another with respect. We are greater and stronger when we learn together and participate together as a whole with equal but different parts. We agree that it’s vital that academics go on as “normal,” but we point out that students are also learning from the school and the not so subtle culture that exists around them.

We, the undersigned will be watching and actively participating in the process as the BoED creates new policies ruling the display of Art, History, Politics, Science, Current Events and other topics. We will ensure that minority and dissenting points of view be allowed as part of truly alternative counterpoints to the existing and prevalent views represented in these recent actions.

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