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Coalition aims to fight 'disinformation' about Hilliard schools

Avery Elementary School in Hilliard on May 11, 2020.
Ryan Hitchcock

A group of Hilliard parents, teachers, and community members have formed a coalition aimed at confronting what they call disinformation circulating about the school district.

The Hilliard Public Education Coalition plans to rally outside the board of education meeting Monday night at Davidson High School.

Coalition spokeswoman and parent of Hilliard graduates, Kelley Arnold, said over the last two years, "outside extremists" have been pushing a variety of false narratives about Hilliard schools.

"Whether that's looking at book bans, or CRT or LGBTQ students, we need policies and we need practices that give students the freedom to be themselves to learn to grow and thrive," Arnold said.

Teacher-worn LGBTQ support badges have also become a point of contention at recent school board meetings.

"All of our students need to be able to feel safe, and seen and heard and respected. And when people are pushing back on students for being who they are, that's not acceptable," Arnold said.

The school district has asked teachers to cover a QR code on the badges that opens an LGBTQ support website that some parents say contains links to age-inappropriate content.

“HEA is proud to support the work of the HOPE Coalition as they endeavor to create and maintain inclusive and culturally responsive schools in Hilliard. We hope they can help bring awareness to the changing community dynamics and demographics which affect how education is delivered; specifically, the need to individually prepare our students for the academic and social challenges of the world of tomorrow that awaits them," coalition member and Hilliard Education Association president Linna Jordan said in a statement.

Also known as the "HOPE Coalition," the group hopes to engage with the public on its Facebook page.

Matthew Rand is the Morning Edition host for 89.7 NPR News. Rand served as an interim producer during the pandemic for WOSU’s All Sides daily talk show.