Last week’s meeting of the Gervais School Board had, quite possibly, a record-breaking number of attendees, most of them with the intention of convincing the board to reverse its decision on distributing condoms to grades 6-12.

Of 19 people to comment during the public forum session of the meeting, only one person voiced support for the board’s decision. The rest spoke about their concerns for the board’s action, calling it hasty and enabling of promiscuous behavior.

Enabling of promiscuous behavior? We don’t think so, though we respect that other parents and community members may have different opinions. But hasty? Certainly not.

This has been a topic of discussion off and on for more than a year. Of the 40 or so members of the public in attendance at Thursday’s meeting, exactly one person had been involved in the year-long process. Interestingly, and probably not coincidentally, this parent was also the only one to speak in support of the board.

Honestly, those opposing the decision had some good arguments and valuable input, and they were respectful in their comments. But why didn’t they offer it sooner?

The decision approving the new policy last month was not a closed-door issue; the agenda for the May meeting clearly states, under action items, “Availability of condoms at the high school.”

It wasn’t disguised in educational jargon; it was available for anyone to see. So where were those 19 community members at that meeting, before the decision was made?

The only answer, which was actually voiced by one parent, appeared to be because, “We always figured you knew how to take care of things.” Is this the right attitude of a civically minded community?

While we’re glad people rely on the news media — it is our job to inform the public about matters such as this, after all — it’s unfortunate that people just expect to sit back and be given this information without looking for it.

In the end, the board was appreciative of the feedback, but it came too late.How can a board represent a community when no one shows up to meetings?

Let’s take a lesson from this: Get involved. The role of the citizen is to be part of the process, not to criticize our representatives after the fact. The more informed we are, the better our elected officials can represent us.

Contract Publishing

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