On Wednesday, the Board of Trustees for the Kern High School District in Bakersfield, California, voted 3 -1 to "... not conduct exercises commemorating Harvey Milk Day... nor encourage or require its schools or their staffs to conduct such exercises." The proposal was introduced by Board Vice President Ken Mettler (who is running for the California Assembly) and is widely seen as a cynical move to toughen up his image and appeal to conservative voters in Kern County.
Local LGBT youth and allies spoke eloquently about the harmful impact stopping Harvey Milk Day would have in the district's school at the May 3rd Board meeting when the Board first considered voting against Harvey Milk Day. GSA Network youth leaders and staff came out to support the local LGBT community at the final vote on May 19th. Despite repeated efforts to educate the Board of Trustees on the consequences of their action, the Board voted to ignore the community's voices and tell LGBT students and staff in its district that it believes they don't have the right to be safe, to be themselves in school and to learn about their history.
GSA Network is very concerned that this vote will increase what is already a difficult environment for LGBT students and staff. We will be working closely with GSAs in the district and local Kern County LGBT groups to make sure that students and staff are safe and their rights are protected.