An aunt of mine recently decided to run for a position on the Board of Education in the district that I grew up in, and that’s as specific as I’m going to get as it pertains to her identity. I would like to preface this post by saying that I find her platform shameful and embarrassing, and have chosen to avoid any and all affiliations with her in the future.

The district in which she is running for is sleepy, overwhelmingly white, and riddled with Mormon constituents. The closed-minded nature of this population makes a point of asserting its superiority and has a habit of excluding those who probably wouldn’t be accepted into the heaven that Joseph Smith planted in their heads (i.e. LGBT+ individuals, people who have tattoos, coffee fans, and yes-some even still subscribe to the notion that god won’t let people of color into his posthumous Sky Club). “Trump 2024” signs are far from uncommon. You get the point.

Some teachers have taken it upon themselves to build a safe and inclusive environment for all students despite this less-than-tolerant atmosphere. Not under my aunt’s watch. A few days ago, a photo began circulating around the bored housewife Facebook sphere of signs that teachers had posted in the hallway that indicate their pronouns:

In response, one of my aunt’s “platforms” was to call her constituents to action to pressure the teachers into taking their signs down by arguing that these signs are indoctrinating students into “woke culture,” and therefore must be eradicated. These folks flooded the principal’s inbox and left call after call with the school’s administration. Some even went as far as to threaten the teachers directly into compliance. And to no one’s surprise, it worked.

All of my aunt’s children (and all of her affiliates) are cis-gender and straight, so I can imagine that this is an issue that she simply won’t relate to (and refuses to sympathize with). We’re all familiar with the term “separation of Church and State,” but history has proven that this has never been the case in our “democracy.” My aunt is entitled to subscribe to whatever religious dogma she chooses, no matter how preposterous. However, she cannot impose those views on all of the students that reside within her district. The message that she is sending to the students of my alma mater is that kids whose identities do not carry the label of male or female do not deserve to be validated in their search for an authentic identity while they’re at school.

The simple signs posted in the hallways of my junior high school would likely have been an effective tool in promoting a safe and inclusive environment for students who are beginning to explore their identities and grow into themselves. Oftentimes, these kids don’t have an adult in their lives that they can trust to support them through the turmoils of puberty and development. Perhaps they can find one in a teacher who cares.

The argument that these signs are “indoctrinating our youth,” as my auntie would tell us, is utter bullshit. You wanna talk indoctrination? How about baptizing your 8-year-olds into a toxic religion that they can’t even comprehend well enough to understand the commitment you’re forcing upon them? How about insisting that the world is only 6,000 years old, despite the heap of archeological evidence that proves otherwise? How about spreading the toxic proposition that god will not embrace certain individuals in the afterlife if they are gay or non-white or identify with a pronoun that doesn’t align with their biological sex?

TLDR: If you’re going to run for a position on the Board of Education, you’d best be educated. Perpetrating this tone-deaf nonsense will only contribute to increased divisiveness in a climate that is already on the brink of civil unrest. Stop wasting time and effort on things that frankly have nothing to do with education. You live in the country with the highest rate of school shootings, for god’s sake. Kids are going to school hungry because they can’t afford lunch. Teachers are receiving poverty wages. The curriculum is severely lacking, and leaving graduates with little to no preparation for the Real World. Oh, and we’re ranked 27th WORLDWIDE in education, and declining. Develop a platform that will solve actual issues, or go find a new hobby.

Thank you to all of the teachers that courageously posted these signs. I hope you continue to promote a healthy environment for ALL of your students to flourish.