Santa Ynez High Breaks Agreement with LGBTQ Students Due to Complaints

Santa Ynez High Breaks Agreement with LGBTQ Students Due to Complaints title=
LGBTQ+ pride-themed crosswalks at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School approved by administration then painted over after parent complaint (Credit: SYV Pride)
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By the edhat staff

Santa Ynez Valley Union High School broke an agreement with an LGBTQ+ student organization last week after receiving complaints over temporary rainbow crosswalks, reports Tyler Hayden at the Santa Barbara Independent.

Four rainbow-colored crosswalks at the campus entrance were part of a "No Place for Hate" campaign promoting anti-bullying that school administrators had previously approved. After receiving critiques from community members, Superintendent Andrew Schwab and Principal Michael Niehoff caved to outside pressure and ordered the crosswalks to be painted over.

The public school officials stated they agreed with detractors stating “schools should not be politicized or used for outside agendas that cause division or disrupt school activities.”

SYV Pride, an LGBTQ+ community group, initially posted a message of hope when the campaign began and even thanked Principal Niehoff for the support.

"At a time when local leaders fail us, we are continually inspired by the youth for their leadership, courage, and vision. We believe all signs forward are pointing towards a more inclusive, loving, and safe valley for all, including its LGBTQ+ community members," SYV Pride posted on Instagram. "And thank you to Principal Niehoff and SYVUHS for supporting the painting of the crosswalks."

After Niehoff and school administrators backtracked on the inclusive art project, SYV Pride and community resource center Rainbow House expressed deep disappointment. 

"They have not only gone against their word in approving the rainbow crosswalks for the week, but have scapegoated the LGBTQIA+ community as being 'political' and 'divisive'... It is clear that the administration felt pressure from select individuals (mostly adults) who took issue with the crosswalks. There was no communication to prepare for this fallout, and now our youth are suffering. As leaders at the high school, our youth deserve better. They deserve integrity, honesty, and a commitment to all students, not just some," the community organizations stated.

"We must use our voice to support an inclusive community that values all its members. Please email Principal Niehoff and Superintendent Schwab with your support of the GSA and the 'No Place for Hate' initiative on campus. Because our youth deserve better."

This is at least the third recent incident in the Santa Ynez Valley that appears to target the LGBTQ+ community.

Two weeks ago, two Santa Ynez men were charged with petty theft and civil rights violations after stealing and burning rainbow flags, also known as Pride Flags that represent the LGBTQ+ community.

Last month, Hayden also reported the City of Solvang rejected a proposal to hang rainbow flags for Pride Month as city councilmember Robert Clarke went on the record with bigoted and hateful comments towards the LGBTQ+ community.

Message of support for LGBTQ+ students in the Santa Ynez Valley, and frustrations over the perceived homophobia have flooded social media.

"My heart is heavy. How on earth can our students feel safe to simply exist if they see the 'adults' in power quite literally erase the very thing that stands for inclusion for all in front of their very eyes?" one Instagram user wrote.

Read Hayden's full report on the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School incident here.

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GeneralTree Apr 01, 2023 04:20 PM
Santa Ynez High Breaks Agreement with LGBTQ Students Due to Complaints

The Rethuglican party has devolved into a hate organization. I'm sure they have a YAFF chapter at that school - check out the YAFF twitter page which regularly degrades the LGBTQ+ community. They let hate groups on school grounds but won't allow some rainbows because of some triggered, bigoted partents.

RHS Apr 01, 2023 04:07 PM
Santa Ynez High Breaks Agreement with LGBTQ Students Due to Complaints

We have moved so far into anger and suspicion and selfishness. How did this happen? Is it the very idea of inclusivity that we have to defer to a ridiculous unrepresentative objection that we cannot even act? If one or two people can prevent libraries from offering books or entertainers from providing a show or cartoonists from expressing opinions where does democracy end up? Voltaire was right but we seem to have forgotten his lesson.


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