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Mead votes no on gender identity book, critical race theory bans

Mt. Spokane HS from the air
Courtesy of Mead School District
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Mt. Spokane High School

The Mead School Board has voted down two policies to restrict materials around race and gender identities in schools.

One of the policies, to ban books on gender identity and expression from elementary school libraries, was opposed by four members. The board member who proposed it, Michael Cannon, abstained from voting over questions about his policy’s legality.

The other would have banned critical race theory, a college-level framework not taught in K-12 schools, from classrooms. It would have also restricted other discussions of race if it causes children to feel anguish on account of their race.

Cannon, who also proposed that policy and voted for it, said he thinks most teachers are doing a good job right now.

“I don't think there's anything wrong doing both things,” he said, “acknowledging the great work that we're doing and the absence of that currently in 99% of cases and also draw a boundary around the fact that we don't want to go down that road in the future.”

Other school board members, such as President Chad Burchard, had concerns about the critical race theory policy’s ban on teachers encouraging students to write to legislators or involve themselves in political issues.

“If you get to write in any way you want, for or against something, I want to teach you to be able to do that, that's healthy, and debate, and that's healthy for this crowd to go through,” he said.

That measure failed in a three-to-two vote, with board member Brieanne Gray siding with Cannon. Board members said they had received hundreds of public comments, online and in person, during their four-hour meeting. They said most were from people who worked, lived, or had children in the district, and were a diverse mix of people for and against the policy.

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.