CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board members voted to approve a controversial policy change expanding its definition of multiculturalism in a heated meeting Tuesday evening.
The board voted 7-2 to pass the change.
Part of the policy change said the board will support educational excellence regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation.
During the public speaking session, a local pastor called homosexuality a sin and then confronted board members when he was told his speaking time was up.
The pastor was escorted from the meeting.
There were other interruptions and lots of shouting as more than 30 people signed up to speak.
CMS plans to support the revised policy through its curriculum, but hasn't specifically said how.
“When we embrace diversity, we take a step toward wholeness as a community, inclusion equity and loving kindness,” CMS teacher Kenan Kerr said.
The district's multiculturalism policy already includes race, religion and national origin.
[RELATED: CMS removes book that was to be part of anti-bullying lesson]
In 2016, Channel 9 reported on just how heated the debate got after CMS unveiled its new anti-bullying policies to try to protect transgender students.
[READ MORE: CMS anti-bullying guidelines stir emotions from parents]
The same group that opposed those changes, N.C. Values Coalition, is also against the new changes to the multiculturalism policy.
Wednesday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox issued a statement on the issue:
The increase of over 300% in suicide assessments within our district since 2012-2013 should be shocking for all of us in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, whether we have children in CMS or not. All kids, particularly the ones who are the most vulnerable among us, must be protected. We must be clear about our intention to support them, no matter where they come from, what they look like, whatever their identity or background might be.
We must respond to the reality of the times as a school district because our kids have no choice but to do the same. As educators, leaders and members of our community, we live in all too often extremely difficult times – as do our students and young people – we and they are not immune to the changes in the larger society. In order to best reach our young people, we will continue to evolve as a school district.
All kids in our community deserve schools that will equip them to achieve every day in a world that is rapidly more diverse, more complex and more connected across lines of difference every day. Our focus across CMS is on educating students, and this focus always serves as the bedrock for our shared movement forward as a public-school district.
As Superintendent, I want students and parents in this community to know that in the midst of many challenges, I remain deeply committed to ensuring that our teachers, principals and entire CMS staff and leaders are focused on learning and teaching. I also want our students, parents and team members to know that this district is committed to their safety and security, because we cannot succeed if they do not feel secure, safe and ready to open their minds to learn.
To do our best job as educators, we now have further guiding policy that appropriately acknowledges that public education in Charlotte-Mecklenburg does not exist in a vacuum outside a multi-cultural, more diverse world.
Changes to CMS policy IFC reinforce this district’s commitment to each and every child’s success and we will continue to work hard to ensure that CMS students achieve everything they are capable of, every day.
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