Bill would force OSAA to have policies to respond to racist incidents
Monday, May 13, 2019
House Bill 3409 would prohibit schools from participating in interscholastic activities coordinated by an association unless that association develops and adopts policies on "equality, civility, dignity and civil rights."
The Senate Education Committee held a hearing Wednesday, May 8, on the bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Janelle Bynum, D-Happy Valley; Rep. Barbara Smith Warner, D-Portland; and House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland. The bill, a response to recent racist incidents in high school sports, targets the Oregon School Activities Association, the major organizer of high school sports statewide.
The bill was introduced, in part, because of a January racist incident at St. Helens High School during a game between St. Helens and the Parkrose High School girls' basketball team. Several people in attendance allegedly used racial slurs and made monkey noises at Parkrose players. On Wednesday, the committee heard testimony from Parkrose students that the incident was part of a broader pattern of racial harassment that they are subjected to on a routine basis.
OSBA and OSAA testified in support of the measure, asking for more time to draft amendments to make the bill broader.
OSBA Executive Director Jim Green decried the racism, saying it “has no place” in Oregon or its schools.
Proponents of the measure, including Kotek, were not inclined to change the bill, but changes could come in future legislative sessions. Describing the bill as a bare minimum, Kotek said, “I don’t understand why this is so hard.”
The bill is scheduled for a committee vote May 20.