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OAK GROVE SCHOOL DISTRICT is becoming a safer place because of the work of educators and elected leaders to create a more equitable and inclusive school community.

In May, the Oak Grove school board adopted a resolution to proclaim loudly that Oak Grove sees, supports and embraces students, educators and staff who are members of the LGBTQ+ community. The resolution, “Supporting the Rights, Freedoms and Equality of Those who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer,” was crafted by a team of Oak Grove educators and school board members to ensure all students, educators and staff feel safe, secure and supported in Oak Grove.

“We have a responsibility as educators to move the needle and make a positive impact for our students,” says Maripaz Berlin, Oak Grove Educators Association(OGEA) president. “How can we leave a space better than we found it?”

The effort started in 2021 when OGEA worked to bring an LGBTQ+ awareness training for all staff to the school district, utilizing contacts from CTA’s Santa Clara Service Center. OGEA sent a letter to the district superintendent formally requesting the training.

“It is time that we provide all staff with the training and educational workshopping to advance the understanding and acceptance of our LGBTQ+ community and the issues they face,” the letter stated. “Educating our staff on these issues will send a clear message to our Oak Grove community that we support and stand by our LGBTQ+ students and staff. It will allow us to celebrate our diversity, ensure the protection and promotion of our LGBTQ+ community, and create an environment of acceptance, inclusion and ultimately a safe space for all.”

Oak Grove Teachers Maripaz and Kirat

Kirat Sachdev and Maripaz Berlin

Berlin says conversations about how to better support LGBTQ+ students and educators led to the creation of a workgroup of OGEA Equity & Human Rights Committee members and school board trustees to develop a board resolution. Starting in Fall 2021, the group met on video conference every month to craft the language, working to make it a living resolution with ongoing work for all staff.

“The goal was to have a mostly completed resolution ready by May 2022,” says Berlin, adding that the group looked to LGBTQ+ equity work done in neighboring Franklin-McKinley School District (FMSD) for ideas and inspiration. In 2017-18, FMSD updated restroom signage across all schools to create all-inclusive restrooms for students and in 2018, FMSD officials raised the Pride flag.

The diligent efforts of the workgroup paid off on May 19when the Oak Grove school board approved the resolution, the first of its kind for the district.

“With the rise in intolerant legislation across the country, it meant everything to be able to help create a district that was the antithesis of all of that hate,” says Kristie Morikawa, elementary educator and an OGEA Equity & Human Rights Committee member who worked on the resolution. “Codifying acceptance and love of all students, educators and families sets the tone for all our schools.”

With action items like raising the Progress Pride flag at all school sites every day and mandatory training for all staff, the focus now is on the implementation of the resolution(see list in box). While Berlin had hoped many of the changes — like gender-inclusive restroom signage — would be ready for the beginning of this school year, she says the effort is still a work in progress.

Berlin says she is proud of the collaborative effort to make Oak Grove a more inclusive place for students and staff.

“We have students in our schools who identify as trans or non-binary and we want them to feel welcome and know they belong,” Berlin says. “For our educators, they have an association that supports them and is looking for ways to improve the working environment.”

Crafting the resolution that ensures all students and educators are seen and valued in Oak Grove was meaningful on many levels, says Kirat Sachdev, OGEA Human Rights Committee member.

“As a first generation, South Asian, queer woman of color, it was such a special, beautiful, humbling and healing experience to have been a co-author in this resolution,” Sachdev says. “I felt that the resolution was a gesture and an ode to my inner child, my younger self and a reminder to the service that I commit to as an educator — to constantly leave the classroom, the space, the home, the park and the community better and more inclusive than I found it.”

The creation of the resolution was a true collaboration with Oak Grove school board members Carla Hernandez and Jorge Pacheco, Jr., who are both educators and CTA members — East Side Teachers Association and Menlo Park Education Association, respectively.

Berlin says educators are excited about the work and eager to continue pushing it forward to ensure that every student and educator knows they have a place in Oak Grove.

“The fact that it came from this group of people and went through this process is meaningful because we did this as a community,” says Berlin. “We’re trying to change the culture. It feels good to make that kind of impact.”


In Oak Grove’s LGBTQ+ Resolution

• Oak Grove School District (OGSD) will create a LGBTQ+ Subcommittee in its Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Committee (DEIB)to conduct a needs assessment for LGBTQ+ students and staff.

• OGSD will update restroom signage across all schools to include at least one all-gender restroom for students and one all-gender restroom for staff by the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year.

• OGSD will raise Progress Pride flags at all schools and the district office and keep them up all year round beginning in June 2022.

• OGSD will create safe spaces for LGBTQ+ students and staff at all sites serving seventh and eighth grades.

• The DEIB LGBTQ+ Subcommittee will update school forms to include student and family information that is inclusive, including additional nonbinary gender identifiers by Fall2023.

• The DEIB LGBTQ+ Subcommittee will review, revise and amend bullying polices that address the topic of sexual orientation, gender identification and gender expression on an ongoing basis.

• The DEIB LGBTQ+ Subcommittee will assess the compliance of the content of adopted textbooks and curricula across all grades and classrooms with the FAIR Education Act, and teachers and administrators will receive support in implementation by June 2023.

• OGSD will ensure that family life education and other appropriate curricula include age appropriate, medically accurate and culturally sensitive information on LGBTQ+ issues.

• Starting in the 2023-2024 academic year, OGSD will provide annual mandatory professional development to all staff, to create learning and work environments where LGBTQ+ students and staff may thrive.

• OGSD will actively engage in the education of families and the community by promoting LGBTQ+ specific resources.

Source: Oak Grove School District


to Build Inclusive Schools

OGEA leaders shared the following tips on organizing in your local association to create more equitable and inclusive school communities, whether through crafting a LGBTQ+ resolution or requesting awareness training:

• If your local doesn’t already have one, create an Equity and Human Rights Committee to help identify members who can contribute to the work.

• Encourage educators to build bridges with schoolboard members.

• Ask “What needs do our students and staff have in this area?”

• Encourage members to attend the CTA Equity & Human Rights Conference (March 17-19, 2023;see

• Continue to invite people to the conversation.

• Once the resolution is passed/goal is achieved, the work isn’t over — it continues.

• Stride toward greater goals.

OGEA member Kristie Morikawa

Kristie Morikawa

“Visibility is key not just with kids, but with colleagues,” says OGEA member Kristie Morikawa. “Change and progress is contagious and inevitable when we individually take the step to become allies for our students and colleagues.”

“Take note of the time and energy that it takes, but also how transformative it can be to open these pathways for yourself and generations of students and beyond,” OGEA member Kirat Sachdev says. “The students are watching, and the reward of the safety and belonging that we’ve provided in just the short time of this implementation is far beyond the small amount of pushback we got initially.”

Have more questions or looking for specific information about doing LGBTQ+ equity work in your local association? Contact Maripaz Berlin at or reach out to the CTA Human Rights Consultant in your region.

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