In a resounding declaration of support for its LGBTQ+ students and staff, the Corona-Norco school board, overseeing one of the Inland Empire’s largest districts, passed a unanimous resolution at their August 1st meeting. This step highlights the board’s commitment to recognizing and addressing the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals within the district.
The resolution, which proclaims the rights of every child “regardless of gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation,” is a beacon of inclusivity that firmly establishes the right of all students to a free public, K-12 education in the Corono-Norco Unified School District. This bold move sets the district apart from others in the region where discussions around LGBTQ+ students and related issues have sparked heated debates.
Notably, this stands in contrast to the Chino Valley school board’s recent policy, which mandated teachers to disclose a child’s transgender identification to parents and prohibited pride flags in classrooms. Attorney General Rob Bonta’s call for an investigation into potential legal violations underscores the importance of addressing such policies. Similarly, the Temecula Valley school board’s national spotlight focused on their decision-making regarding LGBTQ+ curriculum, highlighting the evolving landscape of LGBTQ+ rights in education.
For Jose Lalas, a trustee who championed the resolution with the Corona-Norco School Board, the move is a vital recognition of a marginalized group’s needs. He stated, “Not recognizing a group can be a form of oppression.” Lalas reaffirmed the district’s commitment to equity and courageously doing the right thing despite external pressures.
The heart of the resolution was well-received by community members present at the meeting. Tami Friedrich, an Eastvale resident, highlighted the urgency of the issue by referencing suicide rates among LGBTQ+ youth. She shared an anecdote about her daughter’s experience at Roosevelt High, where acceptance and support for LGBTQ+ individuals prevailed. Don Fuller, a resident from Corona, underscored the critical issue of housing instability among LGBTQ+ students.
Nancy Jimenez Hernandez, a proud parent, celebrated the creation of a safe haven for all students within the district, emphasizing the enriching environment fostered by the resolution. Notably, the resolution extends its support to LGBTQ+ employees and educators, valuing their contribution and ensuring discrimination-free workspaces.
This landmark resolution aligns with California’s FAIR Education Act, reinforcing the importance of LGBTQ+ history and supportive curricula throughout K-12 education. Stacy Nicola, a trustee, initially hesitant, acknowledged the resolution’s significance and its representation of the board’s dedication to inclusivity.
Meg E’amato, President of the Corona-Norco Teachers Association, succinctly encapsulated the profound impact of the resolution on LGBTQ+ individuals. She stated, “A resolution might seem like silly words on a page, but to our LGBTQ+ members and students, it would mean more. It would be a symbol that they are seen, valued and loved.”
The Corona-Norco school board’s unwavering stance is a testament to the power of education in fostering inclusivity and embracing diversity. As the Inland Empire navigates the complexities of LGBTQ+ rights in education, this district serves as a model of courage and compassion, setting a precedent for equitable education across the region.