San Diego

SDUSD Holds ‘Celebration of Light' Event in Support of Diversity

The district partnered with approximately 20 outside organizations for the rally

Students and families from the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) gathered in Old Town for a rally Wednesday in support of communities whom the district believes may feel "vulnerable" after the presidential election.

SDUSD board members and the superintendent also attended the Celebration of Light event held at the Ballard Center on Congress Street.

According to the district, the event is a first of its kind, being held to show their commitment to diversity—including undocumented immigrants, gay, lesbian and transgender students and Muslim groups.

While most people NBC 7 spoke with were on board with the district's message, others claim the event was a publicity stunt and crossed the political line.

The district did spend money on marketing materials and also provided buses to bring people to and from the event.

"I think it's a little bit of column A and column B, so I think it's part a publicity thing, part is instilling fear, part is politics," one person told NBC 7. "I think we just need to come together as a community regardless of what our backgrounds are."

Some stated that the district essentially took sides regarding illegal immigration by hosting the rally.

"There's nothing negative about it, it's just a matter of people saying I don't necessarily agree with everything you're all about but if we can come together and be civil to one another, I think that's really important right now," another individual said.

SDUSD Board President Richard Barrera told NBC 7 the event was not political whatsoever.

"We will stand up for our students and we'll use every resource and every strategy available to us to stand up for our students but the most important way we think we can stand up for our students is to tell our story," Barrera said.

In November, SDUSD pledged to keep school open and welcoming to all students and affirmed their commitment to diversity. 

Barrera had previously stated the Celebration of Light rally would be held to send a message to President-elect Donald Trump that the district believed in a right to education for every student.

The district partnered with approximately 20 outside organizations for the rally.

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