It appears that the Centennial School District is really appreciative to the Lynch family for their generous donation of land for the establishment of public schools. However, it appears that their name is simply unacceptable because, when used as a noun, it brings up painful images of lynchings. We have previously discussed the same lunacy in higher education with buildings named after a Lynch. It appears that even if a school wants to name itself after Loretta Lynch, the first female African American Attorney General, she will have to change her name. Ironically, the first word in the motto of the Lynch Elementary School is “learn” but the learning curve appears too steep in the view of the board. Under the same logic, animal rights activists could object that the school symbol is calling for the lynching of lion cubs — a highly disturbing and traumatic image for young children.
KATU reported that the school board in Portland, Ore., dropped “Lynch” from the names of elementary schools after receiving complaints that the names of Lynch Meadows Elementary School, Lynch View Elementary School and Lynch Wood Elementary School reminded them too much of “lynch mobs” and “lynchings.”
As Sharlene Giard, a realtor and the school board’s chairwoman, explained that it was simply impossible to have children of color walk into a school with the name Lynch” “We have children of color and other cultures and we want to make sure that they are able to cross the threshold of those three schools and be comfortable in their surroundings.” Wouldn’t have been easier (and even educational) to simply explain that Lynch is a personal name and not a noun. Even on the elementary level, did students really think the school was built as a celebration of lynchings of minorities by mobs in Portland, Oregon?
So now anyone named Lynch should understand that their accomplishments will have to be recognized without using their names in memorials or dedications. That turns out to be a rather long list of accomplished Lynches. That includes not just Loretta Lynch but leaders like John Roy Lynch who not only became an attorney and military officer after being born a slave but was elected as the first African-American Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives. Too bad his name is not Giard.
It is chilling to see our public educational system in the hands of adults who think that this is a proper response to complaints rather than a discussion of the truth behind the name. How about a nice plaque on the Lynch family? It appears simply easier to ban the surname without any connection to an act of violence or intolerance. It is not clear if we will not shrub off the names of others with unfortunate nounal implications like Master. PETA may want to change the name Skinner Elementary School. Native Americans might want to strip away the name on Savage Elementary School. How about an inner city school named Gunn Elementary School?
The alternative honorees could have similar problem. Famous Oregon author Raymond Carver might upset vegans. Oregon football legend Sonny Sixkiller is a dead letter. Oregon author Bob Welch has the misfortune of a surname now viewed as a terrible slur.
I guess they could just name every school after Oregon native Courtney Love or, in the the interests of full disclosure, after Oregon civil war hero William Boring. Even better, they can capture the truly neutral content of their educational mission by naming it after Oregon native Mel Blanc.
My greatest concern is the type of children we are raising into citizens who are sheltered not only from pressures but perceived (and incorrect) insults of any kind. The notion that it whether something is a real insult or not is immaterial. It is entirely based not on the true meaning or intent but merely how it is perceived by others. That is a terrible lesson not only in terms of history but citizenship for these students under the tutelage of the Centennial School District.