For reasons I don’t feel like getting into, I have not been volunteering to get signatures for the referendum against SB277. My Facebook profile picture, however, is this:
Jackson’s school finally created an all-school Facebook group, which I joined immediately upon learning about it. I think I was one of the first 10 members. One of the moms on the group private messaged (PMd) me. She asked me if I was collecting signatures for the referendum. She said our school has a very high personal belief exemption (PBE) rate, and that a number of parents would likely sign if the referendum petition was available outside of school. I asked the people I knew who are signature collectors if they could set up outside of the school – no dice. Everyone is so busy with local events, I don’t blame them for not wanting to set up at a random school for an hour. So, I watched the training video, obtained some petitions, and went to school. The mom joined me, as did another volunteer whom I had never met.
On the Facebook group, I posted the following:
If you’re interested in signing the SB277 referendum petition or learning more about parental rights, vaccination, and schools please look for the SB277 table in front of the school on Monday at pick-up, from 2:15 to 3:15.
109 people saw it. Three of them liked it. But then, someone posted that anti-science political rhetoric doesn’t belong in the group because it had nothing to do with our school. I replied that our kindergarten class last year had a PBE rate of 11.9%, so yes, it does affect our school. I also noted that there are bills and laws that affect our school – such as tax increases for school funding or immigration laws – and that a post letting people know there would be a meeting or a chance to sign to oppose or support these things should certainly be allowed in the group. Then, when I was offline, the conversation devolved into “this doesn’t belong here” and name calling.
But I digress…
Mom 2, Volunteer Guy, and I set up on the sidewalk leading up to the school. We would ask passers-by “Have you signed the referendum against SB277?” By and large, people fell into the following groups, listed in order of largest to smallest:
- No, and I don’t have time to do this now.
- No, and I won’t sign it because I love vaccines.
- Yes, I already signed it.
- Yes, and thank you so much for being here today.
- No, give me a pen.
- No, although I would love to, I’m not an American citizen. (Remember, this is a language immersion school, so a number of parents and most of the teachers are from countries that speak this language.)
A few people asked where they could get more information, and I told them: sb277.org. I hope some of them will find the referendum and sign. Volunteer Guy did a great job of explaining the referendum to people.
There was one guy who wanted to pick a fight. He was mad that we were allowed to be on the sidewalk (public property). He tried to goad me into an argument, but I flat out said, “Look, I’m not going to argue with you” and ignored him.
I hate talking to people I don’t know. It causes me great stress. I can get up in front of an audience and speak, even extemporaneously, no problem. But to talk to individual strangers, face to face? No. Freaks me out.
Standing for an hour is really bad for my knee and my ankle, but I did it anyway. Mom 2 was in a wheelchair, so I really shouldn’t complain.
So, I did it. The three of us got some signatures. I had hoped for a few more, but we could have gotten less.
And then, after I got Cassie and Jackson down to bed, I saw the conversations taking place on the board. And I wanted to cry. For several reasons:
- I do not think that the other parents at Antioch Charter Academy II would have treated us as badly as some of the parents – two in particular – did today, nor would a post of this ilk be used as a starting point for hateful comments. I had actual friends at that school, and I really miss them.
- I’m fighting this fight to continue to be a part of this school community. But what kind of a community is it, really, if people treat each other so poorly? Maybe we should just move to New Hampshire.
- I really don’t like conflict. I tried so hard to be just-the-facts and diplomatic, and people were still attacking me. That’s not OK. These people don’t even know me. They didn’t make an effort to get to know me. None of them even knew what I looked like before today, and I doubt many of them will remember me next month. But they sure didn’t have a problem accusing me of being anti-science and “proselytizing*.”
- People actually think it’s OK for the government to tell everyone what you must inject into my/your child. I really can’t wrap my head around this. I can barely understand thinking vaccines, as given today, are acceptable anyway. It just doesn’t make sense to me that people have no problem abdicating their responsibilities as parents to the government.
So, I deleted the original comment, and posted this:
I want to thank all those who signed the SB277 referendum this afternoon, as well as those who stopped and talked with us, whether you signed or not. I was saddened by the hateful comments my previous post received, so, as the event has passed, I have deleted the post. I would like to reiterate that there are a number of political happenings that directly affect our school, and I hope that this group can continue to be a place to announce that information is available, regardless of what each individual’s stance is. Peace!
Which brought out more criticism. Of course.
I know we’re going to lose if this gets on the ballot. But if this gets on the ballot, my family isn’t forced to move to New Hampshire. Granted, we might choose to do so anyway, but then it’s a choice.
This was the basic conversation we’d have with people who stopped to talk:
Me, Mom 2, or Volunteer Guy: Hi! Have you signed the referendum against SB277?
Random Person: No, what’s it about?
Me: SB277 mandates specific vaccines at specific times from infancy through high school. The referendum would put the power to choose which vaccines your child gets and when back in the hands of parents [and doctors]. (Sometimes, I remembered to say “and doctors,” sometimes I didn’t.)
Volunteer Guy: Basically said the same thing, except he added that his child has neurological issues, so he and his spouse figured out a delayed/selective schedule, and that wouldn’t be allowed under SB277.