School Board Votes on Club Policy

Maury River Middle School, the setting of the Sept. 14 School Board Meeting

Maury River Middle School, the setting of the Sept. 14 School Board Meeting

Bee Sackett, Reporter

The school board meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 14 was very…eventful, to say the least. I went in under the assumption that everyone would remain civil and respectful, and this assumption was flat out wrong. I watched a number of individuals walk up to the podium with no goal other than to ruin the already very difficult high school experience for anyone and everyone who does not fit the status quo. The vast majority of the attendees were very much for the new club policy, which is more than harmful for marginalized students. 

The new club policy forces clubs that aren’t curriculum related to require parental permission forms, which can be really difficult for queer students with less accepting families; it also lessens the club sponsor’s ability to participate in meetings, and it places quite a few restrictions on meeting times. This requirement takes away a necessary safe space for queer students. Furthermore, the first meeting every year must now be scheduled twenty days ahead; this, in combination with time constraints and permission slips, completely removes interest meetings from the picture. This could significantly lower the number of students who can join. The club policy is not only problematic, but also discriminatory. Sitting in the bleachers of MRMS, watching these people tell the board that people like me shouldn’t get to be in school was genuinely frightful..

It is this discriminatory language that makes surviving in public for anyone who exists in the margins so absolutely terrifying. Despite what the school board would like to believe, RCHS is not the most accepting place in the world. It is a small, southern school in a place that rather heavily leans towards conservatism, which, for marginalized students, is a very difficult place to be, let alone grow up. Furthermore, the only people who showed up to fight against the club policy were the ones who would be most affected by it: marginalized students. Not a single student spoke in support of the club policy, but plenty of adults who would remain unaffected either way, did. 

The school board did, in fact, pass the club policy. The only people who spoke against it, save for Dr. Bradley, were students, marginalized students. We made it as clear as we could that this policy serves to do nothing but lend itself to anti-LGBTQ hate; forcing queer students with harder home lives out of their safe space. The people who spoke in favor of the policy were adults who do not understand the problems with the policy, and who aren’t affected by it either way. This is because the school board does not advertise nor really even announce the things being brought up at their meetings.

My biggest takeaway from the Sept. 14 Rockbridge County School Board meeting was this: The board exists not to protect the students, but to appease the smallest, loudest fraction of their parents. This is something that desperately needs to be changed. The students deserve better; this is plain and simple. I am sick and tired of discrimination against students who are being silenced by the parents of their discriminators, and being further silenced by the school board themselves. Policies like the new club policy are harmful to marginalized students and directly detrimental to the mental health of said students. Until the school board decides to help the students instead of appeasing the parents, I will do everything in my power to fight the club policy, and I encourage everyone else to do the same.