Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of voicing support for the thoughtful majority on the Coronado School Board and the CUSD administrators who are protecting the physical and mental health of students by honoring state health mandates and promoting an inclusive learning environment in our schools. They are setting an example for our youth with their intelligent and measured leadership during incredibly challenging times. They are modeling what it means to serve with integrity, to listen and learn, and to explore ways to teach our children how to be compassionate members of civil society at a time when things feel increasingly uncivilized.

The countless neighbors I’ve talked to over the past several months share my alarm, sadness, and growing concern at what is unfolding at school board meetings and community spaces in Coronado and across the country. And it’s easy to watch and write off a minority - albeit a loud one - that we know does not speak for the majority in our community.

It’s clear the silent majority needs to start speaking up in the face of increasingly harmful and hurtful rhetoric, especially when it threatens to drown out the brave voices of our youth and what I think is the kinder soul of this community. And it was heartwarming on Thursday to see so many community members who believe in science and kindness fill the room and voice their support for the CUSD board and administration.

To be good allies, we must show up, learn from those who have voiced their experiences with bullying, hate, and unwelcoming behavior in our community, and we must take responsibility for any part we have played in that. I’ll start now and take responsibility for being silent far too long in the face of some locally elected officials politicizing a public health crisis and an anti-bullying program.

Sadly, we must confront and name what is unfolding. We wonder, incredulously, why a vocal minority is opposed to science and public health recommendations, why there is such disrespect for the doctors and nurses risking their lives to save ours in the midst of a deadly pandemic, why there is a lack of acknowledgment of the history and hardship of our black and brown neighbors, and why there is such vehement opposition to teaching kindness and inclusion.

The answer, to be sure, is complicated. At best, maybe it’s just easier to be against things than to work together toward solutions to complex problems. At worst, being “anti” is a convenient way to mask uglier truths: that people would dismiss the voices of students who have experienced discrimination and exclusion because they threaten the status quo; that there are those who place political gain or notoriety above the health of our children. These values and ideologies, which appear to be gaining alarming traction in our community and among some of our local elected officials, aren’t just a threat to the health and safety of our youth and community ideals, but are a threat to our democracy, which so many in our community dedicate their lives to defending.

So to the CUSD trustees, administrators, and students bravely weathering the vitriol, the onslaught of criticism, and the bullying words and behavior of a small but vocal minority, please know there are so many of us in the community who have your back, and that the voices of kindness and inclusion far outnumber the voices of hate that have sadly surfaced in this community.

And to the lone trustee who sat while the other four trustees and almost everyone in the audience stood in support of a student who heroically returned to speak after being bullied by adults at the previous meeting and in the weeks that followed: that was disconcerting behavior from someone elected to serve the students of our community, and a glaring example of why anti-bullying and inclusion programs are desperately needed if we want a kinder and more civil future for our children.

Sincerely

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