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Maine school board denounces hate crimes, pledges support to LGBTQ+ community


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    PORTLAND, Maine (WMTW ) — The Portland Board of Public Education unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday evening condemning a recent string of hate crimes targeting members of the LGBTQ+ community.

People in Portland and South Portland have reported receiving threatening letters. Those letters appeared to target people who were flying pride or Black Lives Matter flags.

In the resolution, the Board pledged its solidarity with LGBTQ+ students, staff and families and committed itself to “creating a culture of allyship” by rooting out homophobia in schools and incorporating learning about LGBTQ+ history, culture and identity in the curriculum.

Board Chair Emily Figdor said the resolution has particular relevance for her because she is gay. “To every LGBTQ+ student in Portland Public Schools, I want to say that, from my seat as a leader and an ally, I commit to protecting and celebrating you and your family,” Figdor said.

The resolution states that the hate crimes “are causing LGBTQ+ students, staff, and families to experience fear and trauma in addition to the daily and ongoing bigotry and threats that these members of our community experience. And we recognize that, for our Black, Indigenous, and other students, staff, and families of color, these impacts are compounded by the racism inherent in our institutions, including in our schools.”

It also encourages teachers and staff “to display Pride stickers, posters, flags, and other LGBTQ+-positive images in their classrooms and elsewhere in our schools in solidarity with our LGBTQ+ students, staff, and families.”

After the Board vote, Superintendent Xavier Botana announced that the school district would be flying the Pride flag at all of its school buildings for the month of February and again in June, in solidarity with LGBTQ+ students, staff and families.

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