Monday, March 12, 2007

IPS & Lawrence Consider Non-Discrimination Policies

The Star's Andy Gammill brings to light proposals at two of Indiana's largest school districts, IPS and Lawrence Township, to amend their policies to protect gay and lesbian employees and students from discrimination. Surprisingly, only one other school district in Marion County currently has such a policy and that is Pike Township in Marion County, which adopted its non-discrimination policy after Indianapolis/Marion County adopted its HRO. Naturally, the American Family Association's Micah Clark is opposed to the policy changes. Clark tells Gamill:

Those policies are the wrong way for governments to go, argues Micah Clark, director of the American Family Association of Indiana, which describes homosexuality as a "destructive" sexual behavior and lobbies against laws that extend rights to gays.

"We support fair treatment of people," Clark said, "but I'm not sure we should codify in the law that homosexuality is the same as one's skin color."

Fortunately, IPS Superintendent Eugene White isn't going to back down because of anything Clark or his ilk has to say about non-discrimination. White tells Gammill:

IPS Superintendent Eugene White said he is unfazed by criticism from the American Family Association and others who disagree with the policy.

"They're not living in reality," he said. "If we do know people are gay, we want to make sure we extend to them the same freedoms and liberties we give to everyone else. We wanted to be more inclusive."

I think the recent incident at Woodlan high school in Fort Wayne demonstrates the need for these policies. School administrators there reacted angrily to 10th-grader Megan Chases's editorial urging her fellow students to tolerate gays and lesbians by announcing a new censorship policy and threatening the school's newspaper advisor with disciplinary action if she failed to comply.

The new protections would affect 5,000 employees and 36,000 students at IPS. At Lawrence, 2,400 employees and 16,000 students will be affected by the policy changes. Interestingly, none of the gay employees who would benefit from the policy changes were willing to go on the record publicly in support of the policy. That's because they know what anti-gay bigoted groups like the AFA will do with that information if they publicly identify themselves.

Isn't it interesting that the public schools such as Carmel-Clay, which view themselves as the best in the state among public schools, have no non-discrimination policies? Of course, those schools in general are the least diverse of our public schools, which might help explain their lack of concern for how gays and lesbians are treated at their schools.


Wilson46201 said...

The crazies in the Talkback section of the Star are already screaming about "recruiting". Pitiful!

Matt Briddell said...

I wonder if IPS would fall under paragraph 2 of SJR-7?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Matt, the answer is no with respect to a non-discrimination policy. However, if IPS or any other public school wanted to off domestic partner benefits, it is possible SJR-7's second paragraph would prohibit it from doing so.

Anonymous said...

Surely this ought to inspire a couple of progressive minded gunner Carmel Clay students to rally support with their school board for this-- Some of them ought to realize that in addition to being, you know, the right thing to do, leading the charge is a great thing to put on their resumes and applications for admission to a fabulous "liberal-elite" ivy league university!