Coalition Addresses Diversity Issue
“The ultimate measure of man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.
In survey after survey, Santa Clarita residents, local business and community leaders agree that the number one best thing about the Santa Clarita Valley is its people.
A more caring, involved, participatory bunch you’d be hard-pressed to find. Santa Clarita is, however, not without its problems. The difference is that this proactive community works hard to deal with its issues in a community forum rather than ignore them.
When gangs and graffiti started becoming more prevalent in the community, leaders created an Anti Gang Task Force and the Pride Committee. Both of these groups not only still exist today, but flourish. When the community became aware of growing teen alcohol, drug and tobacco use, leaders once again rose to the occasion and created a Blue Ribbon Task Force to educate and effectively address the issue and provide meaningful help for those who need it. This award-winning Task Force continues to seek out current issues related to teen substance abuse and address them.
Over the last several months, issues and incidents relating to cultural diversity, racism, bullying and hate have come to the forefront. In response, the community came together once again and a 100-member Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity was formed at the behest of the William S. Hart School District Board. While issues related to a community’s growing diversity are not school issues per se, like other issues affecting children, schools are often the place where these and other issues may manifest. Make no mistake: diversity, racism, bullying and hate are not limited to high schools in Santa Clarita. These are long-time issues of the world and Santa Clarita is a part of the world. Much as we like to believe that outside issues won’t affect us, they often do. It’s how we deal with them here in Santa Clarita that sets us apart.
This community has demonstrated that it will come together to put words into action. We as a community agree that we have a Zero Tolerance for racism, bullying and hate. If one child is suffering from this kind of treatment then it is one child too many. We will not tolerate this behavior from our children or from their parents. We will do what we can as a community to address these issues and provide the necessary education and follow through to back it up. To that end, the Santa Clarita City Council has recently agreed to work out a co-sponsorship with the local school districts to provide high-quality diversity education assemblies in the schools.
If you choose to be part of the solution, we encourage you to actively participate. You can choose to join one of the sub-committees of the Ad Hoc Committee meetings on Diversity. You can choose to be a part of the City of Santa Clarita’s 11-year old Human Relations Forum. You can choose to support your friends and neighbors who are active in this cause. What you can’t do, what we hope you won’t choose to do, is close your mind and your heart to these issues in our community. When we can all look forward with hope, and treat each other with dignity, we will have won.
Mayor Cameron Smyth
Dennis King, Pres. Hart School District
Patti Minutello, Captain, L.A. Co. Sheriff
Ed Masterson, Chairman, SCV Chamber of Commerce
Bryan George, President, Interfaith Council