Superintendent Colt Gill’s Response to My Open Letter

[This is a response to the open letter I wrote]

Ryan

Thank you for writing. I both appreciate and think I understand your perspective. Ryan, I’m not where all your open letter may be published, but consider posting my response as well.

First, I’d like to ask that you consider some of the limits of a news article and know that I would be happy to meet discuss this matter with you in detail. As to the limits of a news article…most articles tend to look at incidents in isolation, they do not always consider what has happened in the past and what continues to happen in the coming days and weeks. This is the case with the Register Guard article you referenced. And, while much information may be shared with a reporter, it is ultimately up to the reporter, editors, and publishers to determine what information they will include and what angle they will present. We, ultimately, have little control over the level of detail offered to the reader.

I am very proud of the work we have done in Bethel School District to welcome and respect each student, family member, and staff member. That statement of pride also reflects my bias. Regardless, my heart has been in this work for many years and I’d like to share just a few snippets of our leadership in the area of equity and inclusion: Continue reading

Advertisements

Open Letter to Bethel School District Superintendent Colt Gill Regarding His Response to the Genderbread Person Discussion

[Superintendent Colt Gill wrote a response to my letter. It can be seen in the comments and in a separate post]

Superintendent Gill,

My name is Ryan Brockey, and I am a teacher licensure candidate and master’s student at University of Oregon. In a few months I will begin looking for jobs teaching mathematics and/or physics. Based on the Register Guard’s report of your response to Bethel District parents regarding the classroom discussion of a Genderbread Person poster, I am going to be quite wary of applying to your school district. Would I be welcome there?

Your words say I will be welcome. Your words say that all sorts of students, parents, faculty, and staff are welcome. Here are three quotes attributed to you in the Register Guard where you emphasize this open welcomeness:

“We need to make sure that when people walk through the doors of our school, whether they’re a family member or a student, that they feel as welcome as every other student in that building.”

“They (need to) feel secure and free from harassment, free from threat or harm.”

[Regarding students who may feel different than their peers] “We want to ensure that they feel safe, and that everybody around them understands that they have value and are as free and appropriate to be in our (school) system as every other student.”

Those are excellent sentiments. Unfortunately, they don’t jive with your actions and policies. In the same Register Guard piece, it’s also reported that Principal Erika Case apologized that a discussion around gender identity took place. You are reported to have assured parents that they will have the option to opt their children out of conversations about gender identity and sexuality.

Here’s the issue: how can anyone who identifies as queer in any way feel welcome or safe in a district where it is optional to even learn about their existence? It is not welcoming, but rather othering, when your district apologizes because gender and sexual identities other than cis-hetero were acknowledged in a classroom. You have just told queer people that their existence, their identities are something that must be apologized for in your district.

Despite your words, your district does not seem like a welcoming place for me to apply to teach math or physics this coming year.

Ryan Brockey (pronouns: they/them)
Secondary Education, Math and Physics
UOTeach Cohort 7
University of Oregon Continue reading

It has to be love

I just watched this Ze Frank video (the man has a way with words!):

It got me thinking about friends, love, and the relationships therein.

My relationships are the absolute most important part of my life. Continue reading

Verse – Mask and Veil

I’m open, and honest,
But that doesn’t mean
I haven’t hidden myself
Behind a veil of normalcy

I’m outspoken, and righteous,
Yet I haven’t shown my
Full persona to those
Closest to me.

A veil is being lifted,
A glimpse can be caught.
But don’t get too excited,
Beneath I wear a mask.

Now you can see I’m
Vulnerable, and a little afraid
I will attach myself
To an identity more true

The mask is my taboo,
And I now wear it openly.
You can identify me by it,
You can identify me without it.

So, I’ll present two faces
Until I can find some place
Stereoscopic and 3D
Where they’ll overlap as me.

I spent the last couple weeks with YouTube, Good Housekeeping, and a bridal magazine.

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks forgoing my usual media sources and instead focusing on my wife’s. You can read more about the origins and rules of this Great Media Swap in my previous post. I have tried my best not to cheat and to completely ignore the media I typically consume. The net result is that I’ve just consumed less these last two weeks. But the information and entertainment I have experienced is all stuff Leah would normally see.

So, I feel like this has been a valuable experience. I feel like I know her a little better, like I can empathize just this little bit more (which strengthens a marriage, as I learned from one of her magazines!). Hopefully this exercise has done the same for her. Continue reading

The Great Media Swap

You can read the follow-up to this blog HERE

Leah had an idea:

What if, for two weeks, her and I swap media? That means forgoing our usual sources and using each other’s.

So we are.

She has given me access to her StumbleUpon and her YouTube account. We traded mp3 players. She took a few of my comic books. I have her new Good Housekeeping, Self, and other magazines. I gave her a list of the shows I watch on Hulu and the password to my Twitter because that is where I get most of my news.

This will be for two weeks; basically we’ll end the year experiencing information–and thereby the world–from the other’s perspective.

As soon as she mentioned this media swap I was on board. In this age of instantaneous information and personal devices, it is so easy to become ensconced in your own bubble. And that leads to close-mindedness.

I am not looking forward to reading through the bridal magazine or having to watch Elle Fowler on YouTube. But that is a great reason to complete this exercise. This is media that Leah consumes on a regular basis, so I should be familiar with it.

Since Leah and I aren’t living together and only see each other every couple of weeks it is even more important that we find ways to share experiences. This will help us continue to identify with each other. My hope is that this provides her with a glimpse at what I love about geek culture. Maybe she won’t be quite so hard on it when she actually experiences it. And maybe I’ll find something to like in beauty and consumer culture. She also has a lot of science and social commentary media that I am excited to explore.

I am going to make a point of writing at least a couple of blogs about topics I normally wouldn’t based on information and articles I encounter in her media.

My relationship with Leah is best described as a series of well-intentioned experiments. This is the latest.

Wanna know how it went? Read the follow-up post.