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CBSD High School Seniors: Allow Us to Receive Our Diplomas from Alternate School Board Members

"I shared the information with [Superintendent] Dr. Lucabaugh and I am not at liberty to share a response and not able to speak for the district," said Central Bucks School District Spokeswoman Angela Linch. But the answer appears to be 'NO.'

The teens in the Central Bucks School District are known for their intelligence, high achievement, and the ability to articulately express themselves in subjects that matter to them. Throughout the district, there are 1,700 graduating Seniors, who attended CB West, CB East, and CB South. They are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to take part in a ritual that will symbolize their transition to adulthood and one that will launch them into a new path, professionally, academically, and personally. They will receive their diplomas.

Unfortunately, the district has decided that the diplomas will be handed to them by School Board President Dana Hunter and the Superintendent Abe Lucabaugh. Their names have become synonymous with book banning, regression, rather than progression in the classrooms, and an anti-LBGTQ+ stance that threatens the well-being of the very students they claim to value. The national media has been rife with stories about the challenges our students, friends, allies, teachers, and parents have faced as a result of Board approved policies.

READ: Today, Tomorrow, And Yesterday As A Transgender Youth – In Central Bucks School District And Across The Country

Three outspoken students, Zandi Hall (she/her) – CB West HS Class of 2023, Ben Busick (they/she) – CB South HS Class of 2023, and CJ Weintraub (they/them) – CB West HS Class of 2023 wrote a powerful letter addressed to Hunter and Lucabaugh that explained their objections to receiving their diplomas from them. 

A portion of the letter reads, “High school is hard for everyone, but unfortunately, the school board’s actions over the last two years have made high school harder and more painful for many individuals, particularly those from the LGBTQ+ community and our allies. All we are asking for is to let another board member who hasn’t voted to marginalize students hand us our diplomas when we walk across the stage at our graduation. President Hunter and Dr. Lucabaugh’s actions have hurt students. Graduation is supposed to be a joyous day. Establishing this new rule is cruel and is another action taken by the board and upper administration which causes direct harm to students on such a joyous day.”

[The full text can be read HERE.]

The students are asking their cohort to read and sign the letter. To date, 133 students have done so. Their hope is that many more will join them in this peaceful protest and the decision will change.

One of the organizers, Ben Busick, offered their impression of the importance of student voices being heard and acknowledged.

I know that you are a student leader. Do you feel like adults listen to you?

I feel like adults hear me, but many certainly don’t listen to me. Don’t get me wrong, I know many adults in Central Bucks who care deeply about what I have to say. However, and unfortunately, many who have the power to change something are unwilling to listen to me. Sometimes, I feel like I am a nuisance to them, like a fly buzzing in their ear. All they want to do is swat me away, and it feels like they are growing more and more frustrated at my persistence.

What issues matter most to you?

Generally, the issues that are most important to me are LGBTQ+ rights, the Black Lives Matter movement, and women’s rights. In Central Bucks, I focus on the equitable treatment of all students in the district, which is, unfortunately, not something that currently exists.

What are your plans after graduation?

I will be attending the University of California, San Diego to pursue my Bachelor’s degree in both Psychology and Anthropology. Afterward, I will likely be going to law school with an aim to work in Criminal Defense or Civil Rights Law.

Why have you and your friends written a letter to the board?

To be honest, for me, it is more about publicity. Unfortunately, I fear that our letter will have little effect on the actual decisions that will occur, because we have seen that our past attempts are futile. I am hoping that with positive support from the community, it may help us with our goals.

What would you like to see happen as a result of the letter?

All we want is for the district to allow the students to choose the school board member to hand them their diploma, like we have for many years. This tradition has always been honored and I am confused as to why it is being changed now.

How can other students get involved?

Activism like this is social connection! If you know someone who is already involved, then reach out to them and they will be more than happy to help you get involved. We are always looking for people to help support marginalized and vulnerable communities. 

How can parents and others in the community support you?

By speaking on and sharing what we are saying. Even reposting an open letter like this on social media goes a long way. Not only are you helping us get the word out, but you are also supporting us: vulnerable, marginalized students who put themselves in the forefront of this, being visible for those who can’t be. It’s scary, it’s difficult, but it’s important. By contributing to the conversation, you strengthen us, and let the people around you know that you are a safe person to be around. An ally who won’t judge them for who they are.

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Edie Weinstein

Edie Weinstein, MSW, LSW is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, journalist, interfaith minister, speaker and author. She is the co-founder of Bucks County Kind.

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