Protesters push for Central York School Board to adopt anti-racism curriculum

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YORK, Pa. (WHTM) — More than 100 Central York School District alumni, parents and teachers stood their ground by standing up to their board before Monday night’s meeting.

The protesters want the district to adopt a new social studies curriculum that teaches about systemic racism and diversity, but not everyone on the board is on board.

“We stand here today, and we’re gathering here today to reclaim what it truly means to be a panther,” said Ben Hodge, a teacher at Central York School District. “We love and value and respect this school district. It is because of this love that we feel that we have the right and the duty to criticize it and question it when our leadership — on the issues of diversity — is out of line.”

School board members Vickie Guth and Veronica Gemma angered many with comments they made last month when the district tried to adopt the curriculum.

“Do we even have a problem? Do we have a problem? And if we don’t have a problem, why are we we changing what we’re bringing in the classroom,” Gemma asked during the Aug. 10 meeting.

For protesters, the only problem is the board’s ignorance.

“I think it’s pretty evident by looking at the news and listening to what’s happening around our world and society. Our school is just a microcosm of that,” Hodge said.

“We can’t think ‘because I have not experienced something,’ that it doesn’t matter for someone else, because their life experience is different,” said Delma Rivera-Lytle, diversity educational specialist.

The curriculum was temporarily tabled last month and again last week. It didn’t appear on the agenda, but the board addressed the issue, saying the district looks forward to continuing work with the diversity committee.

“I don’t think there’s anyone in this room who I would ever consider to be a racist or someone who wouldn’t want to support all of our communities in the district,” said Jane Johnson, Central York School Board president.

“Racism does not go away if we ignore it, and we want support from our leadership to have resources to support our students,” Hodge said.

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