Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fayette public schools place hold on purchases from Hands On Originals

"[I]t is the prerogative of the company to refuse any order 
that would endorse positions that conflict with the convictions of the ownership."
--Blaine Adamson, Hands On Originals

I agree. It is the company's prerogative to not do business with anyone it chooses to disrespect.

But it is also the prerogative of any customer to refuse to do business with any company that discriminates against valued members of their community. I was surprised and pleased to learn this morning that FCPS Superintendent Tom Shelton, the son of a Baptist minister, took a public stand on this issue and has frozen all FCPS purchase orders for Hands On Originals. 

I suppose Shelton knows a thing or two about the teachings of Jesus and stood up for the oppressed. It will now be up to Hands On Originals to prayerfully reassess their convictions in the fresh light of economic considerations.  

Way to go Tom: ($28,548.41 customer since July 2010)
Way to go  Mayor Gray: ($53,585.27customer since July 2010)
Way to go UK ($200,000 customer since July 2011)

This from the Herald-Leader:
The leader of Fayette County public schools said Wednesday the district will place a temporary hold on purchases from local T-shirt company Hands On Originals, which has been accused of discriminating against the organizers of Lexington's gay pride festival.

Also Wednesday, the school system, city government and University of Kentucky told the Herald-Leader how much business they have done with the company.

Mayor Jim Gray also weighed in, saying, "People don't have patience for this sort of attitude today."

Controversy arose Monday when the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization, which organizes the June festival, filed a discrimination complaint with the city's Human Rights Commission. The GLSO alleged in its complaint that Hands On Originals had submitted a bid to produce T-shirts for the event but then, upon being told it had been selected and learning more about the nature of the event, refused to fill the order "because we're a Christian organization." The company said it would find another company that would honor its price.

The T-shirts for the fifth annual event were to include a stylized number 5 on the front, with "Lexington Pride Festival" and the event's sponsors on the back.

The complaint has sparked criticism of the company, including the creation by community members of a Facebook group encouraging a boycott that now has more than 1,200 members. A protest has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday in downtown's Triangle Park. Both the Facebook group and protest have been organized by people other than the GLSO's leadership.

On Wednesday, Fayette County public schools Superintendent Tom Shelton said his administrators "will make our staff aware that a complaint has been filed."

"And if any purchase orders come through before the complaint is resolved, we will temporarily hold them until we find out about any final action being taken," he said.

Since July 2010, the Fayette County Public Schools has paid $28,548.41 to Hands On Originals for various orders. That amount includes only purchases made by the schools themselves, and not booster groups or parent-teacher organizations...

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Anonymous said...

This is, educational historians, the first documented time a superintendent in Fayette County Public schools has stood up for fairness in the Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender community. How wonderful!

March full speed ahead, Tom!

Richard Day said...

It's also how you can tell if a superintendent really believes in "all" kids.

Anonymous said...

Several years ago, I watched as Stu Silberman skirted questions about educational equity at an ACLU meeting at Temple Adath Israel.

It was a dark day in the school system when one little boy talked about the bullying at his school. That bullying included name calling like "gay and faggot."

Silberman was asked to appoint a panel or hire someone to enlighten the staff on these issues. His response was "We just can't afford to do it this time."

I think something special might be happening in our school system. Someone is finally looking at teh issue of sexual orientation, and that person is Dr. Shelton.

Martin said...

Have people forgotten that a business has the right to refuse service to anyone.

Many restaurants have signs near the front door that says,

We reserve the RIGH to refuse service to anyone.

Some say no shirt, no shoes, no service….

Would you tell this company that they would have to make shirts for a porn studio or a gentlemen’s club?

As a Christian business owner I know some Christian owned business I would not do busy with because I feel their life style is not Christ Like. And they know I feel this way because I have refused to do work for them and told them why.

The big difference here is they moved on in their life’s and chose to use someone who had no problem whit their lifestyle/morels.

The question I would ask here is why the GLSO did not try to find a company that supports their lifestyle so that they could support that business with their money.

Some Christian businesses look for other Christians to do business with, and so do many groups of cultures, they want to do business with people who think and live like they do. If we can sue a company because they won’t sell us their wares, then we should be able to sue a company because they won’t give us business because of our lifestyle/morels.

If you call what Hands On has done discrimination because they refuse to do business with the GLSO. Then Hands On should have the right to sue the Fayette County public school system and the University of Kentucky if they stop doing business with them. On the same principle these two originations would be discriminating against Hands On because they where exercising their Constructional right to Religious Freedom to live out what they believe.

The Bible tells the Christian to not support lifestyles and morels that our in conflict with the teaching of God.

Where is a verse that show that, but I would encourage everyone to go read the whole book of 2 Corinthians or at least the whole 6 chapter. Corinthians+6&version=NIV

2 Corinthians 6:17
Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”

Richard Day said...

Thanks for the comment Martin.

I don't think we've forgotten a private business's right to operate in a discriminatory fashion. It's the first thing we pointed out.

I'm sure I don't need to remind readers that many Christian businesses used to have signs that read whites only.

But the public institutions who have reacted (the city, FCPS & UK) are obliged to not discriminate against any citizen and their reaction in proper. There is a legal expectation that each of these organizations is not specifically operating from Christian (or any other religious) motivations.

As the past Moderator of a Christian church that welcomes members of the LGBT community into full participation in the faith and church leadership, what I find disheartening are those Christians who miss the central message of Jesus. I can't find anyplace in His story where Jesus didn't go to the most oppressed person, the unclean, the despised - and lift them up. Am I to imagine that in Lexington, in 2012, he would suddenly want us to treat others...with disdain?

I suppose Hands On Originals is free to sue. What would they claim? ...that these public entities must do business with them? That's a non-starter.

Our rights as Americans are not completely free. Free speech comes with consequences. So do business decisions.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that if we were inclined one could do some digging into the injust labor and commerce practices of many business which FCPS, UK and LFCUG do business and find that those vendors behaviors if not illega,l certainly bordered on unethical. Doubt UK has scowered its investiment portfolios to rid itself of the companies and investment houses that ran our country's economy into the ground.

We live in a free country where religion, business, sexual orientation or whatever is suppose to be given the freedom to engage/operate in whatever fashion is not considered illegal by the community. We must be careful that we don't use the freedom's we enjoy as a means of depriving others on all levels of this or anyother situation. Freedom doesn't mean we all have to agree.

Anonymous said...

Disappointed that someone's personal Christian based beliefs put into practice would be twisted into some sort of comparison with racist based segregation in this country over half a century ago. Perhaps LGBT activists should have a sit in at the store, a boycot or even a hoodie march if this T-shirt injustice merits so much discrimination.

To me, the point isn't about a person's interpretation of the bible but rather respect for a person's convictions. Maybe we need to tell the Amish folks down in Western Kentucky they can't drive their wagon's on the roads anymore(with or without the orange reflectors) because that is a misinterpretation of the bible and outdated, unenlightened thinking, or perhaps we should demand that Chic Filet abandond their old Blue Law ideas of being closed on Sundays because it harms folks' fast food opportuntities.

Paradoxically, I realize this will sound close minded but it is ok for us all to have different opinions and beliefs regarding politics, social issues, values, etc. It is sad because there seems to be a growing self righteous, intolerance at times for those who do not think or behave in fashion which mirrors our own or that of the group which we align ourselves at the moment. One can not simutaneously espouse the rights of freedom and demand equal treatment while at the same time try to limit those very same freedoms base upon personal beliefs or values.

We live in a country which legally facilitates alcohol being sold to alcoholics, guns to be purchased by violent people, obese folks given the opportunity to buy as much unhealthy food as they please and a multitude of public vendors who will sell anything to penniless consumers as long as their maxed out credit cards will allow. Personnally, I have some respect for a business owner who is just willing to draw some line based upon their own values as oppose to kowtowing to any means of getting a buck.

Tolerance, folks, tolerance.

Anonymous said...

It's another lesson in civility. The elitist preach tolerance when it comes to an issue they support. But if you happen to be on the opposite side of an issue, they want to hunt you down and burn you at the stake. They are a small very vocal group. I can only hope that one day the moral majority will stand up and be counted.