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Parents at Forest Hills at odds over diversity, inclusion education

Posted at 12:50 AM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 00:50:43-04

ADA, Mich. — A group of students and parents are at odds over how Forest Hills Public Schools should handle diversity and inclusion education. Parents at Monday's school board meeting proposed a resolution to change the existing curriculum.

The current curriculum specifically designed for diversity, inclusion, and equity education is called Global Learners Initiative, also known as GLI. It has been around for about a decade.

On Monday afternoon, it became clear through an email that some parents opposed the curriculum and would propose changes at the upcoming school board meeting and asking for support. In part, the email read, "It would be awesome if you just Zoom in tomorrow night for our Forest Hills Public Schools Board meeting where a faction of conservative parents are presenting a resolution to our drastic Critical Race Theory and Transgender policies in our district."

It created a social media frenzy, leading supporters and opponents of the curriculum to provide public comment surrounding it during the school board meeting. Students, parents, and alumni in support of the program largely outnumbered those who opposed the curriculum at the school board meeting.

"We are here today to ask the board to stop divisive teaching in our schools," said Rebecca Reynolds, a parent in the district. "We are a growing group of community members who are concerned about the direction of education in our school district. A program that started out teaching, honoring, and celebrating the wonderful diversity of our community has become a divisive instrument of political activism and is causing much more harm than good to the students being served,"

The opposing parents, including Reynolds, proposed the board adopt a resolution stating it is against "divisiveness" at the district.

It also became known at the school board meeting that a possible factor that frustrated parents was a video made during a student project as part of GLI, with some parents claiming it alleged all students that were not minorities were racist.

The mother of one of the students behind the project said it was not her daughter's intent and her daughter is "heartbroken to hear this may have caused issues for her teacher."

"Not being racist isn’t enough," said Victor Hasbany, a former student. "We are provided with the education to become anti-racist with the program through GLI. It takes the education one step further that we do not get in a classroom."

The district meanwhile says they are not planning to eliminate the program.

Forest Hills also announced it will be adding a position for a director of equity and inclusion in learning, which will be a full-time position. Previously, it was part-time.