Featured, Opinion

Putnam County News Subject to Statewide Scrutiny

The Putnam County Board of Education meeting of September 5 was the subject of a Metro News (https://wvmetronews.com/) report. Metro News does not report upon county school board meetings unless the happening is of statewide interest.

What was of statewide interest? Metro News reported that more than 20 individuals signed up to speak upon the enforcement of the Board’s “no political speech” policy at Hurricane High School. It turned out that Hurricane principal Joshua Caldwell became aware of multiple posters that were hung up throughout the school that violated the policy. Caldwell responded by announcing that no posters or literature – other than announcements of events, fundraisers, meetings, and the like by clubs or organizations or literature posted by teachers as a part of an approved teaching curriculum, would be permitted in the school.

The specific posting or postings which violated Board policy 4.24(C) were not identified but Metro reported that multiple Hurricane students who identify as being a part of the LGBTQ+ community said that the signage that was removed was “not political” and made them feel safe in school.

One sign which no longer can be displayed read, “diverse, inclusive, accepting, welcoming, safe space for everyone.” Metro News reported that these words were seen by some as pushing “a certain agenda.”

The Board of Education issued a statement in defense of Caldwell’s action, stating, “This is a neutral interpretation of Putnam County Board of Education policy, and not based on the content of a particular sign or poster.”

Metro News was present to report upon the happenings at the Putnam County Board of Education meeting because someone informed them that a “hot button issue” of statewide interest would be addressed.

Also, on September 5, Metro News reporting featured an article titled: City of Hurricane passes ordinance banning minors from “adult performances.” Metro was not alone in reporting the action of the Hurricane City Council. WCHS-TV posted the following concerning the ordinance: “A couple months ago, the Putnam County Commission overwhelmingly voted to ban drag shows in the unincorporated areas of the county. The vote came a few days after Putnam Pride held an event in Hurricane’s Valley Park. Tuesday night’s ban at Hurricane City Council targets just the city limits.”

The ordinance which Hurricane City Council passed does not ban drag shows. It bans that which is already established in State Code. Minors are barred from attending adult entertainment venues which are deemed to be lewd or sexually suggestive.

Prior to approving the ordinance, the council heard from those who favored the ordinance and those who were opposed. Those favoring the ordinance and those opposed accused each other of pushing an agenda.

The focus of most news coverage is upon division and differences. Polarization hinders the vision of all involved.

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