Unidentified individuals take down SAGE posters

Against school policy, unidentified individuals have taken down posters created by the Straights And Gays for Equality club at Lakeville North

What remained of a SAGE poster that hung at LNHS

What remained of a SAGE poster that hung at LNHS

You’ve probably noticed the new posters hung up around school by the Straights And Gays for Equality club, better known as SAGE, promoting SAGE week this week (May 2-6).

Or maybe, you haven’t noticed them because some have been taken down.

Unidentified individuals have torn down these posters created by SAGE members and staff within the last week, per SAGE VP John Jara and members Sara Rabon and Mariah Glinski. 

Many of these posters state that 42 percent of LGBTQ students feel that the community they live in is not accepting of LGBTQ people, which the tearing down of SAGE posters has exemplified.

“I think it’s very unfortunate that the posters are being taken down because it conveys to LGBT students that the environment they go to school in is not entirely accepting of LGBT individuals,” Jara said.

Jara said the main goal of SAGE is “to have an environment where both LGBTQ and allied students feel safe and comfortable in our school.”

“It’s important for everyone to have a network of support that they may not get at home and understand that people can appreciate them for who they are as an individual regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Jara said.

To promote SAGE week, members of SAGE created eight different informational posters and hung them in the hallways. The posters range from details about SAGE week to FAQ’s about transgender bathrooms in general to definitions of various sexualities. Every poster is approved by LNHS Principal Marne Berkvam with her signature.

The Lakeville North school policy is that any poster or flyer approved by Berkvam cannot be taken down, and measures to stop or prevent it, such as viewing security cameras, can be taken.

All SAGE posters attempt to inform the student body about sexuality and SAGE’s goal as a club, Jara said.

Where this message from SAGE members and supporters once was, forlorn scraps of paper remain.

The removal of signs has led to fingers being pointed and rumors being spread as to who is to blame for the signs being ripped down.

Some students have wondered if the LNHS administration or faculty removed the posters. SAGE members suggested that Berkvam took down a poster after receiving a complaint from a parent.

Yet this claim was only slightly true. What was perceived as censorship from administration turned out to be something completely different.

Berkvam said that she only took down one poster, the lengthy transgender bathroom FAQ, to properly inform herself when she needed to reply to two phone calls from parents. Overall, Berkvam thinks SAGE week “will go well.”

Some SAGE members assert the controversy over the SAGE Week posters is hypocritical, in light of a poster FCA hung in the commons advertising their Revival Concert, which was not taken down by individuals. 

Many non-Christians or non-FCA members didn’t fully understand what the Revival Concert was or why the poster was allowed to be displayed in a public school. Some students said they thought Revival Concert was a promotion for the church where the concert was taking place, Celebration Church in Lakeville. The assumption that this large sign and a religious event of such enormity was violating the concept of the separation of church and state was a misinterpretation made by many.

FCA member Aubry Beckman said she and other Lakeville North FCA leaders hired a band themselves to play at the “huge, spontaneous worship concert” and Celebration Church “was just the venue.”

They also got the large black and white Revival Concert poster approved by Berkvam. Beckman said that she was in charge of getting the sign approved and to do so she talked to Berkvam about hanging it up and “[they] had to make sure certain information was on it for it to be accepted, like which club the event stemmed from and who to contact” if there were any questions.

Jara said SAGE does not believe members of FCA are the individuals removing the posters. He added FCA members have actually asked if SAGE needs help. 

“Everyone should have the equal right to hang up anything to support their club or activity,” Beckman said. “If the events happening to SAGE happened to FCA, I would be upset as well.”