Student Group Organizing Walk Out at Annandale High School
ANNANDALE -- A group of students at Annandale High School is planning a walkout Wednesday.
The Gay-Straight Alliance is organizing the effort. Their issue is in part because of a 'safe space' symbol they have created which includes a cardinal, the school's mascot, and the colors of the rainbow flag.
The district wants to replace those symbols with an 'all are welcome' more inclusive one.
Superintendent Tim Prom says the district's safe space signs have been up since at least November and have not been removed. He says a new sign should be created with multiple colors and symbols.
The group says their main concern with the 'all are welcome' signs is that they do not allow LGBTQ students to feel truly safe, and would not allow them to know which teachers are safe to talk to about LGBTQ topics.
Prom says the district has retained a consulting group to develop a three-year plan to address cultural responsiveness. They are also consulting with attorneys to ensure they don't expose the district or students to any unforeseen risks.
The student-led walk is expected to start at noon Wednesday and then march to the district office at the Annandale middle school.
Full statement from Superintendent Tim Prom:
First and foremost, the District’s Safe Space signs have been up since at least November. No one has been required to remove a Safe Space sign. The District is committed to supporting all of its student groups, including the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA). This support includes both time and resources. For example, the GSA is a school-supported student group that meets during the school day, have their own t-shirts—which students are allowed to wear in school—and are allowed to do fundraising in accordance with District policies, like other student groups.
The District has also talked to students, including members of the GSA, about the possibility of creating a District-wide “All are Welcome” sign that would be all inclusive representing all students and groups served by the District. Such a sign may have multiple colors and symbols, representing the different backgrounds and beliefs of our students including the rainbow symbol. Once we finalize the more inclusive sign design, the District will replace the Safe Space signs—which are only representative of one group—with those signs. Until then, however, no Safe Space signs will be taken down.
The sign design process is only one part of the District’s efforts to support all of its students. The District is continuing to have robust conversations with students, including members of the GSA, about what the District is doing—and could do in the future—to provide more education and training in the area of equity for both staff and students. The District has also retained a consulting group to develop a three year plan to address cultural responsiveness, equity, and the impact of trauma within our District.
As the District is proceeding with these steps, it also is consulting with its attorneys to ensure that its actions are consistent with applicable laws and do not potentially expose the District or its students to unforeseen risks. This is especially important as more and more topics become divisive in the community and the nation overall. The District, however, is doing everything that it can to fairly and legally represent and protect all of its students.