Keep the Iowa Standard Going!
The following statement was posted on Kendra Wohlert’s Facebook page:
Three days into this school year, a 7th grader at Peet Jr. High was bullied in the gym locker room by two eighth grade boys. His head was hit with a locker and he was called a “fucking
In response to this horrific event in one of our schools, more than 20 Cedar Falls families met on September 6th to discuss ways we can support all of our children, including our LGBTQ students. It is our utmost responsibility, as parents, educators, and community members to provide a safe environment for all of our students, inside and outside of school. The families who gathered proposed showing support for LGBTQ students by hosting a donut pop-up event outside of Peet Junior High.
The morning of September 16th, we, Kendra Wohlert and Christine Sexton (two parents of Peet students), and six junior high students met with Theresa Kenser, a counselor at Peet, to discuss hosting the pop-up in collaboration with the school’s newly formed Gay Straight Alliance/Anti-Bullying/Tolerance group.
The students described the proposed event to Mrs. Kenser: we would welcome all students to school that morning with free donuts and give away rainbow stickers to any students who wanted them. We told Mrs. Kenser that we would bring our own tables, LGBTQ flags to decorate the tables, donuts, and stickers. We asked if we would use chalk to decorate the sidewalk that morning with positive welcoming messages. Mrs. Kenser offered the use of window markers in case we also wanted to decorate the school windows.
At one point in the meeting, we all agreed that it takes a whole community, not just a school, to support our children. The counselor did not raise any concerns about the event that we were proposing; on the contrary, she was fully supportive. She agreed to relay our idea to Principal Boevers to gain final approval, which we did receive via email from Mrs. Kenser the next day. In the email, she again expressed her support and thanked us for doing it.
The morning of September 23rd, 14 Peet families each donated several dozen donuts for the event. The event was put on as we had proposed it to Mrs. Kenser. We decorated the sidewalks with welcoming messages (ie. “do-nut worry, be happy,” “welcome to Peet”, etc.), set up tables, decorated some of them with LGBTQ flags, invited anyone passing by to take a donut if they wanted to, and invited anyone to take a sticker if they wanted to. The response was overwhelmingly positive.
If a student chose not to take a donut or simply passed by, our general response was, “have a great day.” As the morning progressed, students who had not been originally involved took part in handing out stickers and donuts as well. Students really seemed to enjoy the event and many stayed outside for a while to socialize. Families and students felt very positive at the end of the event. As families who had been volunteering at the event left for work and the clean-up continued, Kendra Wohlert and Eric Giddens were the last to leave the area. It was then they were aggressively approached and harassed by a Peet parent, Rob Michael.
This event was a collaboration of Peet families, the GSA students club, and Peet Jr. High. The intention was to show support for all of our students, including our LGBTQ students.
Bullying, harassment, and intolerance have no place in our schools or our community. It is our hope that Cedar Falls families and the Cedar Falls Community School district will work together now and continue into the future for the inclusion, support, and acceptance for all our students. We believe working in partnership with our school district is the first positive step toward true acceptance and celebration of all our kids.