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Letter: Inclusivity in schools is integral for children

By Staff | Sep 29, 2021

As a parent of kids in three schools, I feel acutely each day the anguish of raising my children with good values in a corrupt world. And as a military brat and teacher for years in diverse settings, I have seen how different ideologies, political stances, and theological persuasions can make us feel as if we have no real community. What concerns me right now, however, is seeing my kids come home exhausted not from homework, but the divisiveness they feel in their very own classrooms.

School board member Natalie Cline’s comments recently on social media about a Layton Latter-day Saint seminary Pride flag not only incited violence but is perpetuating a growing trend to take Pride flags out of classrooms. This knee jerk reaction fails to recognize that the Pride flag represents togetherness for a minority group of human beings, one that our youths and teachers may also be part of. While each color of the rainbow has a meaning, collectively, it was designed to honor the different backgrounds, races, ages, genders, and yes even political parties of LGBTQ+ people.

Our classrooms are hardly a place for musket fire- students are already more anxious and stressed today than ever before. Likewise, research indicates that children often hide emotional distress from parents, and naturally want to be accepted. The decision not to keep Pride flags in classrooms based on politics and agendas is contributing to the very safety of the youth we wish to protect- further widening the chasm between beliefs and subsequent acceptance. Consider also that Utah ranks fifth in the nation for suicide, which was the leading cause of death for ages 10-17 in 2019. As adults, it is our responsibility to raise children for their life and experiences, not our fears and biases. This healthy development starts in our classrooms, where students and teachers spend 30+ hours a week and inclusivity should be felt by every person, not just those that think like we do. We can do better than relegating representation to a political battlefield they didn’t ask for.

Elizabeth Elsmore



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