No decision has been made about whether Marysville school clubs, including LGBT clubs, will require parental consent to join.
A parental consent policy has been under consideration by the Marysville School District Board of Directors for over a month.
School Board members agreed to discuss the policy more in the future and did not take action during their June 6 meeting.
The policy was first considered shortly after controversy regarding LGBT support clubs in Marysville elementary schools, although the policy would apply to all clubs.
Under the policy, LGBT students would likely have to out themselves to their parents to join clubs in the district.
Because of that the policy has attracted controversy between those who believe parents should be able to prevent their children from being exposed to LGBT ideas and those who say that kind of space is needed to prevent isolation, depression and suicide.
A couple of Board members believe the parental consent requirement would be challenged in court, costing the district a good deal of money.
“While it may not necessarily be illegal, with some of the things we’re doing, there is enough opposition that there will be legal consequences and as a district that is fighting with our budget and fiscally having a lot of problems, this will build on top of that,” said School Board member Katie Jackson.
After a double levy failure the district is facing a $13.5 million shortfall.
“The reality is that we’re in a legal bind. If we go forward with this policy we will spend at least $100,000 in legal fees and if we lose any of those we will spend hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars in that process,” said School Board president Paul Galovin.
Board members Connor Krebbs and Keira Atchley said they will stand for the parental consent requirement.
“Parents are sick of being told they don’t have any rights in regard to the education of their children,” said Krebbs. “I will continue to advocate for parental rights."
Atchley believes the district will be able to come up with a good policy.
“Consistently, more and more parents are being told they cannot have a say in their child’s education or medical treatment but are expected to support them until they are 18,” she said.
Jackson noted under the Equal Access Act that students have rights as well.
“They have their right to privacy and the right to associate with who they want,” she said.
“As a School Board member, we are here to protect the children and remove barriers for them to do what they need to in school. If this policy hurts even one kid, is that okay?”
A variety of supporters and detractors of the policy showed up to speak at the meeting.
“As a parent it is my responsibility to know where my kids are. If I’m not aware of the activities they are participating in, who their friends are and what they are learning I cannot fulfill my duty as a parent,” said Marysville parent Autumn Osborn.
Others worried that giving kids access to the clubs would promote different values.
“It is a teacher’s responsibility to teach. Teach reading, writing, math, science and history and not to override parental values,” said community member Whitney Burton.
“Those who are against parental control, I don’t understand you. Don’t you understand this also protects your child,” said community Rita Heid.
Heid said she believes having easy access to LGBT clubs would unduly influence students.
“It is pushing kids into being transgender,” she said.
Tulalip Tribal member Lou Ann Carter said the LGBT population needs support even if that doesn’t come from their parents.
Carter said she was a nurse and worked with CPS many times.
“Sometimes, if they out themselves to a parent they could be kicked out of their home,” she said. “My concern is that kids need to feel safe enough to go to adults. If they don’t feel safe at home they need to have a resource they can go to."
Briauna Hansen, an advisor for an LGBT club at Cedarcrest Middle School, said that a club like that would have been useful when they were a child.
“I want to approach this issue with kindness and understanding but I promise you that I feel attacked and distraught. I personally knew I was queer around 5 to 6 years of age but I didn’t have access to the terminology or vocabulary to explain to others how I felt,” Hansen said. “I shelled away my identity from adults out of protection and ultimately learned not to trust adults.”
Marysville Getchell High School’s upcoming ASB president James De Leon said the students he has spoken to are feeling unsafe in the community because of the discussion.
“I have spoken to many students about this policy and they are scared, afraid and worried,” he said.