Student protests erupt in Missouri town after school board bans 'safe space' signs

Student protests erupt in Missouri town after school board bans 'safe space' signs
Students protest ban on safe spaces in Grain Valley, Missouri (screengrab/KSHB).

Missouri’s Grain Valley Schools school board has banned teachers from displaying popular “Safe Space for All” stickers on or in their classrooms, mysteriously citing “a concern.” The stickers are used nationwide to enable LGBTQ students, and all students, to know they have a safe space to be themselves without fear of reprisal from staff or students.

The board left it to schools to notify parents, which they did on Monday via email, KSHB reports. The notice came after last Thursday’s board meeting, but the Safe Space sticker ban was not on the agenda. The board claims it initiated the ban because all classrooms should be safe spaces for everyone.

In a move similar to the “All Lives Matter” retort to the Back Lives Matter movement, the school board wrote to parents:

“Our goal is for every classroom to be a safe place for all students, not just in classrooms where teachers choose to display a particular sign,”

“We remain committed to providing professional development to help our staff create a safe, collaborative, and inclusive environment, consistent with our core beliefs, where each student feels a sense of belonging. The use of these cards, however, is determined to not be an appropriate step at this time.”

The board did not state what steps it is taking to secure that goal – or, in fact if it has any plans to ensure the safety of LGBTQ students.

KCTV5 adds that the school board “confirms that rainbows and images of allied support must be removed.”

Justice Horn, a candidate for the Missouri state legislature, responded on Twitter:

“Today’s move is taking what little visibility LGBTQ+ students may [have],” he adds. “This may seem small to some, but to queer students who may feel like they don’t have a place, this means the world. This may save a kid from making a similar decision like I did because we didn’t have these.”

The Grain Valley School Board‘s minutes from last week’s meeting hypocritically include this statement at the bottom:

The mayor of nearby Kansas City weighed in, suggesting the move could be a First Amendment violation:

The Kansas City Star notes that “GLSEN’s national survey of schools found in 2019 that many LGBTQ students do not feel safe in Missouri schools. In the survey of more than 400 Missouri students, 81% of LGBTQ students regularly heard homophobic remarks at school. The report said that 75% of LGBTQ students experienced verbal harassment based on their sexual orientation. And 57% of LGBTQ students experienced verbal harassment based on their gender expression.”

Some students are protesting. Video via KSHB:

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