CMS school board votes 7-2 to change district's multiculturalism policy

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Nearly 40 people approached the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) board at the Tuesday night meeting. They each had one minute to get their point across. The subject was the district's Multiculturalism Policy. Board members voted 7-2 to approve the changes recommended by the policy committee back in October.

The change states the district will support educational excellence regardless of race, color, ancestry, gender/gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, nationality, linguistics or language difference, physical abilities, religion, age, socioeconomic status or academic skills.

The change also states that CMS will acknowledge and intentionally incorporate diversity throughout the curriculum, instruction and professional development.

Many people showed up at the meeting thinking CMS embracing this diversity of students could mean the school district will start teaching students values of the LGBTQ community.

"When did it become ok for a board to decide what our kids' values will be. That should be left up to parents," Kingdom Christian Church Pastor Dr. Gabe Rogers said.

The meeting did get heated. Rev. Philip "Flip" Benham approached the board and after his comments he got too close to the dais. Board members gave him a warning.

"Do not approach the board," CMS School Board Vice Chair Rhonda Cheek said.

Benham did and police quickly escorted him out. He did not leave without calling a school board member a name.

"You ma'am are a pervert," Benham said.

Others applauded the school board for making a change in the policy. They believe it will keep all students safe.

"Transgender and non-conforming students need teachers and school officials to stand up. We deserve love and respect like everyone else," CMS student Nicolai Mather said.

A CMS parent also agreed with the school board member's vote.

"The multiculturalism policy not only protects students, but will give them the knowledge and skills they need in higher education and in the work force," CMS Parent Douglas Cooper said.

Parents were told at the meeting the policy change will not alter curriculum or instruction. Board member Sean Strain had an issue with that part of the policy change. Strain found that hard to believe. He says words in the policy should matter.

"If the answer is not, it's not curriculum related. I am a little troubled by the disconnect between the language and the policy," Strain said.

People walked away disappointed and some in the crowd called CMS liars after the district's chief academic officer and superintendent said no change in the curriculum would take place.

"I don't believe the curriculum is not going to change because of this. I think it has opened Pandora's box," policy opponent Mark Harris said.

Opponents say they will hold CMS accountable when officials told them no change will happen.

CMS Board members Sean Strain and Thelma Byers-Bailey voted against the policy.

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