June 20, 1997 in City

Goal And Effort Both Remain Valid Work Goes On Program Teaches Kids To Respect All Of Their Classmates.

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Mona Mendoza, the Spokane school equity worker who polarized the community by describing herself as a “feminist-Chicana-lesbian-activist,” has packed her bags and moved to Seattle. But the issues she championed remain as pressing as ever:

Jewish and Jehovah’s Witness families may still feel excluded when the elementary music teacher presents a winter concert packed with traditional Christmas carols.

African-American students may still feel singled out, even insulted, during English class discussions of “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

Girls who love sports may still feel mocked and ridiculed when they attempt to join the boys’ basketball games on the school playground.

Gay or lesbian teens, who face a high suicide risk, may still be harassed, even physically assaulted, on school grounds.

The work of the Spokane schools’ equity project will continue. Its advantages far outweigh its disadvantages. This program teaches kids to respect all of their classmates and prods schools to become safer and more welcoming for every child.

Workers in this program must stay carefully focused on the highest priorities. Changing a budding softball player’s vocabulary from second baseman to baseperson is a minor point. Making sure that every child, regardless of gender, has the opportunity to feel capable, confident and included, is a major one.

It’s a shame that Mendoza’s personal experience in Spokane became hate-filled. She endured threats and harassment that no one should face. It’s also unfortunate that her personal style struck some people as so confrontational that it distracted from her goals. But it’s not just liberal activists who can be off-putting. Some European-American-Christian conservatives also have been known to display an in-your-face style many find offensive.

Now’s the time for all of us to simply simmer down and find creative ways to work together toward a common goal - respect and and dignity for all.

Despite fiery controversy this year, the Spokane school district has chosen not to back away from this significant program. We applaud the district’s wise commitment.

, DataTimes MEMO: See opposing view under the headline: Abrasive approach does cause friction

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = EDITORIAL COLUMN - From both sides CREDIT = Jamie Tobias Neely/For the editorial board

See opposing view under the headline: Abrasive approach does cause friction

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = EDITORIAL COLUMN - From both sides CREDIT = Jamie Tobias Neely/For the editorial board

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