Outside Douglas County Schools headquarters, a woman waited for the Jan. 11 school board study session to begin wearing the unmistakable red costume of The Handmaid’s Tale.
Carolyn Williamson came to make a statement, and a plea, she said. The Parker resident believes the three women elected to the board in November often parrot board President Mike Peterson.
She sewed her costume and wore a mask with a zipper over her mouth as visual demonstration, likening the directors to women without free speech in the dystopian world on the television show.
“Our point is that they need to speak up and show us that they have an opinion as well,” she said.
She sat through the meeting hoping her costume would inspire more comment from Directors Becky Myers, Christy Williams and Kaylee Winegar. She left before the hours-long meeting adjourned, frustrated as the board debated COVID-19 mitigation guidelines that did not include universal masking, something Williamson supports.
Myers, Williams and Winegar did not respond to interview requests submitted to the district spokeswoman regarding Williamson’s comments.
Memes depicting the three directors as handmaids from the show also floated around social media, and debate quickly brewed. Some community members praised Williamson and the posts while others found the situation offensive.
Parker resident Shawna Lease said comparisons to “The Handmaid’s Tale” saddened her. The directors elected in November are new and still learning about the system, she said, which might affect the amount they comment in meetings.
Still, she’s taken no issue with how they conduct themselves during meetings. Having campaigned together, it’s not surprising to Lease if Myers, Peterson, Williams and Winegar tend to “speak with one voice.”
Lease voted for the Kids First directors in support of making masking a personal choice. As mother to a son with autism spectrum disorder, Lease believes parents should be able to choose, she said.
Lease said she understood Williamson’s desire to speak up about her concerns. Moving forward, she hoped people could respect that Myers, Williams and Winegar stepped up to serve too, she said.
“Women should be lifting women up, regardless of whether you agree with their stance,” she said.