Thursday, November 29, 2012

Around The Nation

Middle School Teacher Punished For Promoting Diversity
Susan Johnson via Fox News Detroit
SOUTH LYON, MI -- A Detroit-area middle school has suspended a teacher for playing a song about being gay during class. The song, "Same Love", was played during Susan Johnson's eighth-grade performing arts class at the request of a student. The song's lyrics discuss the harassment faced by gay youth growing up on a daily basis.
"This is one of the things in my school that we're trying to practice and we're trying to instill in our students is tolerance to diversity," Johnson explained.
School officials confirmed that another student in class didn't agree with the lyrics, went to the office and complained.  Before the school day ended, Johnson claims the principal and assistant superintendent told her she was suspended.
"I don't think that it was really even thought through," she said.  "I was paralyzed.  I really didn't understand why I was being suspended."
During a closed door meeting with school administrators, Johnson found out she would be suspended a total of three days, not paid for two.
Assistant South Lyon Community School District Superintendent Melissa Baker told LGBTQNation via phone Thursday afternoon, "No one [Representing the South Lyon Community School District] is going to comment at this time."
"I'm very disappointed in the bias, the bigotry that I feel that they're really hiding behind," said Johnson, adding, "I really love my kids and I never want to hurt them, but I also know that there's a lot of bullying and there's a lot of gay bashing and racial issues going on in our country and I want the kids to feel comfortable in my class no matter who they are."
Johnson confirmed Thursday that the ACLU and LGBTQ rights advocacy group, Equality Michigan have agreed to assist her in her efforts.
Emily Dievendorf, Director of Policy for Equality Michigan released a statement that read:
"While we are still investigating this incident, it appears that the South Lyon Community School District is taking a stance against diversity and love. 
Suspending a teacher for playing a song with lyrics like “love is kind” and “if I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me” says more about the school district’s intolerance towards same-sex love than the teacher’s judgment of her student’s music tastes. 
I cannot help but wonder if they would have suspended her for playing a song which speaks positively of opposite-sex love or provides observations on the oppression faced by certain religions. 
Equality Michigan is eager and ready to help fight this behavior by South Lyon schools and make sure Susan Johnson is able to teach diversity and love over intolerance and hate.”

Federal Court In Nevada Denies Challenge To State's Ban On Same-sex Marriage
LAS VEGAS, NV -- The United States District Court for Nevada has denied a challenge brought by Lambda Legal on behalf of eight gay couples to that state's ban on same-sex marriage. In its ruling the Court noted:
The question before the Court is not the wisdom of providing for or recognizing same-sex marriages as a matter of policy but whether the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the People of the State of Nevada from maintaining statutes that reserve the institution of civil marriage to one-man–one-woman relationships or from amending their state constitution to prohibit the State from recognizing marriages formed in other states as “marriages” under Nevada law if those marriages do not conform to Nevada’s one-man–one-woman civil marriage institution. For the reasons given herein, the Court rules that it does not.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs signaled that the case will likely be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court. A spokesperson for Lambda Legal said:
This is not the end of this fight. We will appeal and continue to fight for these loving couples, who are harmed by Nevada's law barring marriage for same-sex couples. By forbidding same-sex couples' access to marriage, the State brands them and their children as second-class citizens. 
This entire decision rests on the ridiculous premise that a 'meaningful percentage of heterosexual persons' will decide not to get married if same-sex couples can. Not only is this not true, but it is settled law that the government is not allowed to cater to private biases -- which is all that imagining that 'some couples won't join this club if those people are admitted' amounts to. 
We are confident this ruling will be overturned on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. 
Read the ruling here.