Thankfully, after six month of effort, the GLBT Historic Task Force withdrew its plan to honor lesbian politician Chris Kehoe by renaming Uptown’s first school — Florence Elementary. In a phone conversation with Uptown News, task force leader Nicole Murray Ramirez blamed the controversial moves poor outreach efforts on San Diego School Board member Kevin Beiser, who joined the GLBT Historic Task Force to assist with the Florence initiative. Beiser criticized Murray Ramirez saying that blaming people “isn’t productive or healthy.” Additionally, Beiser labeled comments in opposition to renaming the school after LGBT leader, Christine Kehoe, a subtle form of discrimination against the LGBT community.
The efforts began in the fall of 2014 with little notice of the first meeting. Two subsequent meetings were held at the school drawing opponents from throughout the school and neighborhood. At the February 2015 Hillcrest Town Council (HTC) meeting, residents and Florence Elementary School students, parents and alumni spoke out in opposition of the name change to honor politician Christine Kehoe. The HTC overwhelmingly voted against changing the historic name. At the February 16 meeting of the Bankers Hill Community Group a letter was read from resident Deirdre Lee (whose father was principal at Florence Elementary School in the 50s and 60s) asking for support to retain the school’s original name. Of the nearly 30 members in the audience, 26 signed a petition to oppose changing the name of the school.
“The Hillcrest Town Council did its job by shining a light on the issue and giving the community a voice. The community has spoken loud and clear. A “subtle form of discrimination” Mr. Beiser is not listening to the community.”
Luke Terpstra, Chair Hillcrest Town Council
“….No state/city buildings, parks and especially Elementary Schools should not be named after living politicans. The facts remain, for many reasons, that Kehoe’s name is a No Sale. Perhaps she, along with her political friends can go find another playground because they have disrupted Hillcrest’s Historic Florence Elementary School enough!”
Rick Wilson, Neighborhood Activist
“Florence Elementary School is a part of Hillcrest history having served Uptown for over a century. Many alumni, neighbors and community leaders found out about the renaming late in the process, but thankfully were able to preserve its name.”
Ann Garwood, President Hillcrest History Guild