Santa Ynez High Breaks Agreement with LGBTQ Students Due to Complaints

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.

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Does anyone have more insight into why the Christian extremists suddenly hate gay people more than before? They had Prop 8 which seemed like the last hurrah here, but suddenly they seem extra bigoted. One plausible factor to it that I heard was many churches during Covid closed or lost significant followers so the mega crazy churches got more mega and more crazy. Plus Qanon and daddy issues playing out with the ex-Potus?

  4. We’ve( as a culture) moved so far into the ‘Pretend Syndrome’, as in let’s pretend she’s a man or he’s a woman, or better yet, let’s pretend our leaders aren’t scoundrels and criminals, or pretend that we care about humanity ( other than our own kind) or that assault weapons are the lone cause for our murderous culture; so why not pretend that you made a commitment to the Queer community and simply break it.

  5. I grew up with an older lesbian sister in the 50s. it was VERY VERY hard for her.
    Young LGBTQ+ need to look at how FAR things have come and RELAX.
    There are SO many kids joinng the LGBTQ+ ranks now that it doesn’t even seem rebellious or cool anymore. Lots of followers.

  6. VOICE – My “takeaway” stems from how you defended those who prohibited the rainbow flags and crosswalks in Solvang. Are you now saying you support rainbow crosswalks at this school? If you think the school was wrong to do this and support these students in having their temporary rainbow crosswalks, then I do apologize.
    Now be honest…. do you support the LGBQT+ students here? Yes or no. No dancing around. YES. NO?

    • As it pertains to your question today, I don’t only support one individual group of students but support all students to express themselves in appropriate manner both on and off campus, I support parents in expressing their support and concerns about their child’s education and school environment, I support the school administration balancing the different needs and concerns coming from the community, and I support the community to do what best for their own community whether I agree with they’re doing or not.

    • Sacjon, you asked why some people would be against painting rainbows on schools crosswalks. I explained why some people would feel that way. That simple explanation, neither a pro/con or defense/support of the what occurred, was met by you and another regular EdScold by misguided and inappropriate screams of transphobia, homophobia, bigotry, among others. Your intolerance and disingenuousness to others who don’t 100% agree with you, or in this case, simply answer a question you yourself posed, is particularly astounding here because very little information has been released about what the school originally agreed to with students, the type of feedback they received from parents, and detail into the rationale for removing it — yet you are so sure of what happened and why.

    • The homophobicans keep talking about this “agenda.” What is the agenda of the LGBQT community? What is you cowards think it is they’re trying to “push” on you? Tolerance and acceptance of people born differently than yourself? THAT is the only “agenda.” Why is that such a bad agenda?
      Tell me, why is it so wrong and “divisive” to be empathetic towards others or be aware of the struggles of those born into a different life situation, be it sexuality or race? Why do you so many of you oppose this idea?

  7. Note to SYV politicos: you can foster an image of intolerance and possibly suffer an LGTBQ boycott like happened in Arizona, or you can develop a reputation of acceptance and create the financial vibrancy of a Palm Springs. The former seems archaic, the latter progressive and enriching….if you catch my drift.

  8. Why do sexuality and gender need to be talked about in school? Shouldn’t the focus be on learning? It’s the parent’s job to teach THEIR children about this IF they choose to do so.
    How many of you support GLSEN (Hiding gender transitioning from parents).
    I commend Superintendent Andrew Schwab and Principal Michael Niehoff! The only flags that need to be flown in schools are the State and National flags.

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