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Outrage over Yukon schools mask mandate highlights increase in public outbursts

YUKON, Okla. (KFOR) — Tensions flared during a Yukon Public School Board Meeting Monday night, when a woman demanded the district end a mask mandate with just a few days left in the school year.

“You gave our children non-medical masks! ” the woman screamed during the live streamed event. “This isn’t about COVID, it’s about control!” 

More than an hour into the meeting, a woman can be heard yelling “We elect you!” to the board members. At that point, the School Board President asked security to escort her out.

With anger bubbling in his district, the Yukon Schools Superintendent, Dr. Jason Simeroth,  told News 4 keeping your cool is always key.

“I would really really appreciate you allowing them to finish,” said Dr. Simeroth during the meeting. “We are trying to conduct a meeting, just like you asked us for.”

“People’s feelings are their feelings. We can’t devalue what you feel because it’s not what I feel,” the superintendent told News 4.

How you channel those feelings is another matter whether in-person or online, often civility is lost.

Sharon Schweitzer, an etiquette expert, and founder of Access to Culture, agreed with the superintendent.

“I think we’ve gotten here because people are less civil and people are more willing to speak their minds. They’re more individualistic now,” said Schweitzer.

Speaking your mind is one thing but being disruptive is another.

The expert said if you’re face-to-face with someone who has different beliefs, one conversation will likely not change their minds.

“What I advise people to do is say ‘Thank you for your viewpoint.’ ‘That’s really interesting.’ or ‘Thank you for giving me that,’” she said. 

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In the meantime, Yukon’s superintendent said people need to check themselves if they’re raising their voice.

“A civil discussion is the best way to approach it. That’s what I tried to model last night at our board meeting”. he said, “I have faith in humanity.”

During this last legislative session, Oklahoma lawmakers passed Senate Bill 403, which would make any disturbance or disruption to a public meeting a misdemeanor. It was signed by Governor Kevin Stitt and is now in effect.

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