I’ve seen embarrassing failures from the Grandview Heights school board in the past, this time they have hit a new low.
Ms Wassmuth brought a resolution before the board at the May 2019 meeting, which would have expressed support for Pride Month. This was not a policy change – in fact, the board already has policies in place that would protect students and staff with minority orientations.
Mealy-mouthed, timid support was expressed by two board members, but when a second to the motion was asked, there was an excruciating silence from the board.
More important to the board members was keeping the board from opening itself up to groups who might have the temerity to ask the board to support other good causes. Unspoken opposition to any student with LGBTQ orientation can be inferred by the silence expressed by most of the board.
Go to the recording
The link above goes to a clip from the May 8, 2019 board meeting. Near the end of the full meeting the board has an “other discussion” section, which is very rarely used by members. Wassmuth had good reason to bring the resolution before the board, she was asked by students in the Grandview HS to make the attempt. Four students attended the meeting, one spoke before the board with a passionate defense of students who have suffered bullying because of their orientation.
The recording begins with fumbling by President Truett, who failed to pass out copies of the resolution to the board. You have to wonder, was that failure intentional as a passive aggressive hit to Wassmuth?
Wassmuth read the full contents of the resolution. It contained nothing radical, just standard support for LGBTQ students, as the school policy manual already mostly agreed. The board was asked for no change other that a resolution of support for Pride Month (the Grandview city council has passed this same vote in the past).
A student spoke in support of the resolution. Remember how hard it was to speak in front of adults when you were a HS student? Now imagine speaking as a representative for a group that has faced discrimination and violence. This student deserved a “good for you for having the courage to stand and speak” from the board, instead she was given a curt “thank you for your comment”.
One of the board members (I’m assuming it was Mr Bode ) did speak in favor of the resolution, he even spoke about his own daughter’s involvement in the forming of an anti-discrimination group in the school, but when the time came to show the same courage that his daughter used to stand up and speak, Bode chose to sit in silence during the vote.
There was an unspoken sub-text to the meeting, there were probably board members who would have voted no on the resolution. In order to enforce the unanimous voting – which is the highest unwritten rule for the board – the members protected each other with a refusal to allow a vote.
At 18:00 in the recording, Ms Wassmuth asked for the motion to go to vote. What followed was the most pathetic 25 seconds in the history of the school board. I imagine Wassmuth was looking at the faces of her fellow board members, with a look of pleading. The were probably looking down, avoiding her gaze. And they sat, and allowed the resolution to fail with no second.
Imagine if you were one of the students who attended and spoke before the board, and then listened to the board sit in silence for a simple resolution of support? Does the Grandview board need to make it more clear – those student got nothing, no even a simple raised hand. An unspoken “we don’t really care about LGBTQ students” is the inference from this non-vote of four members.
Ms Wassmuth should get the support of the community for her attempt to make a resolution on Pride month. The board didn’t want to have votes on “months of support”, like most other public bodies do. However, this was special, and a group of kids speaking before the board made it important to act on. I’m hoping other board members will learn from Ms Wassmuth to stand up for what is right.
And if they don’t get anything out of re-listening to that pathetic performance, the rest of the board should just resign. It was a humiliation for the entire community of Grandview Heights. The best way they can serve the city now is to step down, and let a new board member with a functioning sense of right and wrong to serve in their place.
(edit) I sent an email to the board members who couldn’t second the Pride resolution, asking them about the reasoning they were using to fail to allow a vote on the issue. I know it will not come as a surprise, but they are refusing to answer questions about that vote. If you have any contact with a board member and can get a comment from them, please post below, or send me a message on the “about” page.
Surpressing votes is anti-democratic
Voting is how we know the minds of our representatives. They might bluster and give long speeches, but when the votes are called and a yes or no is required, that tells us the real opinion of our elected officials.
When the Grandview Heights school board suppresses a vote on Pride month, they hide the true opinion of the individual members. We need those opinions so we can decide our opinions of the members. We should walk into the voting booth informed by real votes, and not fantasy stories about how they would have voted if the issues were seconded and a vote called.
The always unanimous voting from the school board, and the suppression of voting needed to enforce it, is anti-democratic. This issue should be the top question for all candidates for a board seat.