Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fayette County Schools Considering an Expansion of its Anti-Harassment and Discrimination Policy

A couple of KSN&C readers alerted us that the Fayette County Board of Education "is set to vote on protecting students and teachers from discrimination [based] on sexual orientation." The Board is scheduled to meet on July 23rd.

Superintendent Tom Shelton, who recently placed a hold on purchases from a company that discriminates against gays and lesbians, told KSN&C,  that he and the Board are "just doing our annual policy review / update" that the district works on each summer with the Kentucky School Board Association.
We were requested to adjust our harassment and discrimination policies to include sexual orientation and gender identity to the groups listed for protection along with the other categories such as race, gender, ethnicity, and etc...
Of course, we do not tolerate harassment or discrimination toward any student or staff member for any reason and view this as a fitting addition to our policies.
Since 2010, the Obama administration has been encouraging school districts to use existing civil rights statutes to augment enforcement of district policies against bullying and other forms of harassment. Those same statutes can also be used by parents of harassed students in districts where bullying is allowed to persist.


Anonymous said...

And let it be known that this was asked of stu Silberman on at least two occasions in 2005. Both times he told those who asked for this protection,, the time is not right.,, dr. Shelton was then approached by the people from Kentucky fairness and a deal has been worked out....ever so quietly, sadly.

The biggest question remaining will be how will this affect policy and will teachers and principals be informed of the change.

Anonymous said...

I heard this change was pushed by a member of the school board rather than by anything Kentucky Fairness did. I haven't heard which board member did the pushing, though.

Anonymous said...

This change was indicated by Kentucky Fairness. They approached Dr. Shelton who had forwarded the request to the Kentucky School Board Association which needed to look at the language being used in the proposed change. Why Dr. Shelton was for the change is unclear. But this change was suggested in a closed door meeting and I am certain he did not want the idea to be discussed in an open session of the Board meeting. I scanned the minutes of the school board. No mention of this has yet been made on the website.

In many regards this has been a long time in the works. There have been numerous incidents of gay and lesbian students and faculty who have been harassed on the job in Lexington. In one case, a gay student who was bullied at Dunbar committed suicide. This received national coverage and was made into a documentary.

Even though Lexington is considered a liberal community with an openly gay mayor, a gay judge, and active gay presence, when it comes to the schools, many conservative parents don't want the subject of homosexuality mentioned. My initial observation is that parents will patronize a gay hairdresser, tolerate a gay neighbor, buy products from a florist who employs gays, but they don't care much for the idea of an openly gay public school teacher, a gay club, or the mention of an alternative lifestyle in the classroom.