Not If We Don’t Get Out and Vote for Candidates that Believe in
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for ALL!
About two years ago a video was recorded at Edgewater Christian Fellowship featuring two Grants Pass School District staff members Rachel Sager (formerly Damiano) and Katie Medart. The video was part of their social media campaign advocating for limits on the rights of transgender students. The pair dubbed their campaign the ‘I Resolve Movement’. It was in opposition to transgender equality legislation and policies being adopted by the Oregon State Department of Education.
In July 2021 the school district fired Sager and Medart concluding they had misused work time and school resources while making the video. At a time when the culture wars were raging with controversial COVID-19 policies, here in Grants Pass the rights of transgender students were also being thrown into the mix. The school district received significant pushback for the termination from those who believed the staff members free speech and religious civil rights had been violated.
The lead pastor at Edgewater Christian Fellowship, Matt Heverly, even recorded his own video in support of the ‘I Resolve Movement’ passionately professing the two staff members actions were all out of care and concern for all students. Watch it here:
Edgewater, one of the largest churches in Grants Pass, has 3 services on Sunday; 7,000 followers on Facebook and over 2,000 subscribers to their YouTube Channel.
After the intense pressure from the community on November 9, 2021 Board Member Cliff Kuhlman reversed his stance and the school board voted to reinstate the two staff members. In the meantime, Sager and Medart had filed a federal lawsuit claiming D7 had violated their civil rights.
However, on March 29, 2023, U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark D. Clarke dismissed the case against the district stating the plaintiffs had caused disruption with their on- and off-campus activities and that the termination for such did not violate their First Amendment or Equal Protection Rights. Ray Hacke of the Pacific Justice Institute in Salem, attorney for the plaintiffs, has vowed to appeal the decision. Medart is still employed by the district. Sager has since moved on.
I Affirm Coalition and Rogue Action Center
To counter balance the darkness ‘I Resolve Movement’ created the ‘I Affirm Coalition’ came to fruition to bring voice to the students and to shed light on the needs of transgender and LGBTQ+ students within Grants Pass School District.
The I Affirm Coalition is a group of local students, community members, parents, educators, and statewide and regional advocates who are working together to see that our local schools follow through on their commitments to make schools safe, welcoming, and affirming for all students, including transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming students.
The I Affirm Coalition seeks to support GP District 7 students and other LGBTQ+ students in our region so that they experience safety, acceptance, and celebration of who they are so that they can thrive academically, socially, and intra-personally. Student involvement in decision-making and developing student leaders are key values to the group. The I Affirm Coalition is very active and meets monthly. In December 2022 the I Affirm Coalition met with Superintendent Tim Sweeney and is planning another meeting with him soon.
The I Affirm Coalition is facilitated by Eliot Feenstra and Nina Pamintuan of the Rogue Action Center (RAC). For those of you unfamiliar with the RAC they were founded in 2017 as a community-based organizing group to effectively confront entrenched power structures rooted in white supremacy and exploitation. Their mission is to build organizing infrastructure, leaders and community power to create just, inclusive and sustainable communities in Southern Oregon. For more information about the RAC and how you can support their work click here: https://www.rogueactioncenter.org/about
For more information about the I Affirm Coalition contact Eliot Feenstra at firstname.lastname@example.org
School Board Candidates On the Ballot in May
Cliff Kuhlman, the D7 Board Member that reversed his position and voted to reinstate Sager and Medart has decided to not run for re-election.
Greg Fishwick is running for Position 7. He is the Board Chair of the Four Way Community Foundation, currently working hard to help fund a new library building. He has served as an educator, coach, community college counselor and has been active in school district and city budget committees and in Rogue Gateway Rotary.
Juliet Long, a graduate of GPHS, is running for Position 6. She is the Vice President of Student Learning and Success at Rogue Community College and sits on the Board of Director for the Grants Pass Chamber Of Commerce. She has participated in the D7 budget committee since 2017. She is a violinist who has performed with various groups throughout the Rogue Valley.
Lastly, Frank Boothby is running for Position 7. A Navy veteran, who for the last 7 years he has worked as Program Manager at Project Youth+. He is currently the President of the Kiwanis Club.
Each of these individuals, through their careers and civic activities, shows their commitment to community – a diverse, inclusive community! Let’s get out and vote for them to ensure D7 never experiences another ‘I Resolve Movement’ again!
For more information on the candidates click here: https://josephinedemocrats.org/2023-may-special-election-recommendations/