By Jill Baker, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools
Yesterday we were deeply saddened to learn that a rainbow-colored lifeguard tower on the beach, painted by lifeguards in honor of Pride month last year, burned down in the early morning. Police and fire officials are investigating the circumstances, but Mayor Robert Garcia said he had little doubt that the fire was an act of hate against our LGBTQ community.
On behalf of the Long Beach Unified School District, I want to express our strong support for our LGBTQ students, staff and larger community in light of this disturbing incident, which feels especially pointed after the Atlanta and Boulder, Colorado acts of hate and violence over the past two weeks. We unequivocally reject all forms of hate and bigotry in our community.
As we stand with our LGBTQ community, we also know that they stand with us. At our Board of Education meeting just last week, we noted that our school district recently received a donation of 180,000 bottles of hand sanitizer from Long Beach Pride. The donation, which was delivered in four semi-trailer trucks, will supplement the school district’s supply of hand sanitizer for the upcoming reopening of schools scheduled for March 29. It was the largest donation of items the school district has ever received, and a great display of support for students. It was also a poignant reminder that we should all be helping one another emerge from the worst pandemic in a century, rather than pressing ourselves into polarized and hateful solitudes.
More than any other institution in America, our public schools teach people of all backgrounds to respect one another. As recent events illustrate, our ongoing work on issues of equity is more important now than ever. We have detailed some of those efforts in recent communications, including the work of our LBUSD Equity Leadership Team, our Superintendent’s Student Advisory Committee and other forums where we discuss difficult subjects such as bias and prejudice, always working toward a more just and equitable educational system and society. We also provide age appropriate classroom resources to our educators to help them and their students to process the national and world events that shape us all.
Please be assured that the recent, disturbing incidents that we are facing in our nation, and now on our own shoreline, only strengthen our resolve to stand for kindness, fairness and respect for all people. We thank everyone who continues to support this vital work.