In this year’s printed Calendar Handbook, the systemic guide and calendar Frederick County Public Schools publishes each year, the school system made the decision to erase LGBTQ Pride Month in June. The month had been noted for years in the printed handbook.
In response to inquiries from several quarters, FCPS said the erasure was an accidental omission and added the month to a digital-only version of the calendar. But anyone who has produced any annual printed materials or reports knows the school system’s excuse doesn’t ring true. Because the printed Calendar Handbook changes very little from year to year, the system starts with the previous year’s edition as a template and edits from there. All changes are noted, highlighted, and reviewed by several layers of FCPS bureaucracy, ending with the superintendent. To add or delete any holiday or commemoration requires affirmative choices.
It’s fair to debate which events should be in the Calendar Handbook. Space is limited, and there are proponents for a huge range of important cultural, civic, historical, and religious dates of note.
It’s also fair to debate whether government institutions should “play favorites” in the first place by picking and choosing which identities it deems worthy of note (somehow, marginalized groups always come up short in that game). But at the very least, shouldn’t FCPS have clear and transparent criteria, based on educational and curricular goals, for elevating or erasing certain historical, religious, or cultural identities with our taxpayer dollars?
So, let’s have an open debate. And let’s insist that government leaders honestly explain the choices they make with public funding (the Calendar Handbook is FCPS’s most costly and widely distributed printed product).
Surely there’s a great reason Superintendent Alban sees fit to celebrate, for example, Great Outdoors Month in June, but not LGBTQ Pride Month. Let’s hear it.
Michael Doerrer is a past director of public affairs for Frederick County Public Schools.