PORTLAND, Ore. – Oregon’s Centennial School District’s board of education voted Wednesday to scrub the name Lynch from two elementary schools because some folks don’t like how it sounds.
“The term itself is a term that’s associated with terrorism – terrorism of people who look like me, terrorism of my descendants,” one man told the board during an “intense” public meeting, KATU reports.
Lynch, however, isn’t a term, but rather refers to Catherine and Patrick Lynch, who donated the land the district sits on a century ago.
But after school officials received “several complaints over the years” about the word’s association with slavery, they opted to drop Lynch from Lynch Meadows Elementary School and Lynch Wood Elementary School – renaming them Meadow Elementary and Wood Elementary. Another school, Lynch View Elementary, will now be Patrick Lynch Elementary.
Board members made it official after getting a mouthful from locals, both for and against the idea, according to the news site.
“This proposal has been an embarrassment to the staff and the community as a whole,” said one man speaking out against the proposal.
“It was a family,” said one woman, according to KGW. “Lynch was named for a family, not an action.”
“We were Lynch, we will always be Lynch in our hearts and I’d like to see the [political correctness] stop,” another person said.
Some of those in favor claimed the move helped them feel “safe.”
“I don’t think any of you have ever seen a picture where one of your decedents was hanging from a tree,” said one man who testified in favor of the name change.
“I know the majority of you guys are white and it’s hard to know how that word could have an effect but it does,” added a young student who testified. “If a simple name change could make students feel safe, then why are we holding back?”
Patrick Lynch’s great-great-grandson also weighed in, and pointed out the obvious irony that schools are intended to teach students about history, and understanding how to interpret different meanings.
“I think my grandfather would have liked me to stand up for the family name a little bit,” David Hayes said. “(Schools) are in the business of education so they should be able to educate people that a name and history have certain meanings versus what other people have tried to turn it into.”
School board chairwoman Sharlene Giard defended the board’s decision, which she claims is about “equity” and doing right by minority students.
“We have an equity plan in place in Centennial and we are doing what we believe is right for our children,” Giard told KGW. “We have children of color and other cultures and we want to make sure they can cross the threshold of those three schools and be comfortable with their surroundings.”