Wheatland, Wyo., Citizens Turn Out in Droves to Support ‘No Place for Hate’ Program

More than 70 local citizens turned out Feb. 15 to urge Platte County (Wyoming) School Board members to reinstate the Anti-Defamation League’s “No Place for Hate” program in two local schools.

School trustees had voted 4-3 in January to remove the program’s banners from the schools due to some trustees’ objection to the presence on the banners of the logo of the Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado, one of the program’s many sponsors. The ADL subsequently withdrew the program from the schools, objecting to the board’s refusal to follow program guidelines.

The ADL had asked the school board to add the issue to the meeting agenda for the Feb. 15 session, and reconsider its objection to the banners, but that request was rebuffed. A regional official from the ADL traveled to Wheatland Monday to renew the request, and was overwhelmingly supported by the citizens who turned out to speak. Board members, however, declined to extend the meeting’s normal public comment period, which limited the number of attendees who could address them.

Citizens also delivered an official petition Monday asking the board to clarify its policy on sponsorship-related advertising in the school district, noting that many other companies and organizations are allowed to display their logos and names on educational materials in the district. That issue will now be before the board at its March 15 meeting.

The Matthew Shepard Foundation conducts similar programs in public schools and colleges nationwide in support of safe educational environments for all students, regardless of difference. The ADL’s program in Wheatland exemplified the pro-safety, inclusive atmosphere that we feel all students deserve. We applaud those Wheatland citizens who are working to demonstrate the value of diversity education and other efforts to eliminate bullying from our nation’s schools. We hope that the board members and others in the community will work constructively to ensure positive steps against hatred can continue in the district.

Further coverage of the Feb. 15 meeting is available from the Wyoming Tribune Eagle at:

http://wyomingnews.com/articles/2010/02/16/news/19local_02-16-10.txt

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