Friday, August 16, 2013

Around The Nation

Californian Inland Empire school district changes policies for LGBT students
SAN BERNARDINO -- The Hesperia Unified School District announced Thursday that it will implement policies supporting LGBT students after the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU) had sent a letter demanding that officials step in to end discrimination against LGBT students by teachers and administrators.
This past March, the ACLU and the law firm Nixon Peabody LLP sent an 11-page letter to Hesperia Unified School District Interim Superintendent David McLaughlin, charging that charged Sultana High School administrators had fostered a hostile and harassing climate for LGBT students. 
Teachers and administrators have made discriminatory comments about gay people, and have not stepped in to stop bullying by students, the letter stated.
In one incident, a teacher told a student who commented that he did not have a valentine on Valentine’s Day, that that’s “because you’re gay and nobody wants to be with you.” In another, an administrator referred to a gay student’s campaign for homecoming queen as a “joke.” Another teacher told a student to “take the gay headband off.”
The letter also states that girls are being told they must wear dresses to the prom and boys tuxedos and students are instructed to wear gender-specific attire for their yearbook photos, in violation of state and federal laws.
Additionally, administrators have censored the Gay Straight Alliance’s public announcements, flyers and activities such as movie screenings.
In an Aug. 7 letter responding to the claims, the district said that over the years there were some isolated incidents directed at members of the club. But it denied many of the claims and said there was no evidence of a culture of discrimination.
But administrators also determined that “there are policies, procedures and training that it can establish, clarify or reinforce which will lead to a safer, more supportive and compassionate learning environment for all of our students.”
Levi Johnston, a Sultana student who graduated this year told the LA Times;
"I’m so happy LGBTQ students will be attending Sultana in the same building but with what I hope will be a completely different and positive environment,“ Johnston said adding “I feel proud that, by taking a stand, our GSA changed things for the better for current and future LGBTQ students at Sultana.”
The ACLU said it is sending letters to all the school districts in San Bernardino and Riverside counties with information on its LGBTQ Student Rights Project.

New LGBT minor course at Purdue University
WEST LAFAYETTE, IN -- The director of the LGBTQ Center at Purdue University told the campus student newspaper the Exponent, he's excited about a new LGBTQ minor course offered by the College of Liberal Arts.
Lowell Kane noted that there are students whom are already on the waiting list for the first class required to complete the minor: ANTH 282, “Introduction to LGBT Studies.” 
“This is indeed an exciting time in our nation to engage in and broaden the conversation around LGBTQ issues,” Kane said. “The new minor is a true collaboration between students who advocated for this field of study, academics who are engaged in critical research around gender and sexuality, and the LGBTQ Center, which engages the entire Purdue University community through providing enriching resources, educational programming and support services.”
Purdue had introduced the course this past March and according to Kane university officials may consider offering the course as a major depending upon its success with students.
“Students will be introduced to complex and dynamic scholarship, global perspectives, challenging and exciting concepts, and new understandings of current events that impact their own daily lives and the world around them,” Kane said. 
“This approach, coupled with the broad range of experiences and identities brought into each classroom by the students who participate in the minor, will advance our mission to develop scholars who are prepared to succeed in a rapidly diversifying global market.”
Evelyn Blackwood, the professor of anthropology who will be teaching the course noted that the minor isn’t just for students in the College of Liberal Arts because the minor can be applied to any workplace.
“This minor will prepare students to be able to work in a diverse environment where LGBT people are one of the diverse groups they will encounter,” Blackwood said. 
“It will also provide a foundation for students who are interested in working with LGBT clients in a wide variety of areas, including public health, nursing, social services, family counseling, law and social justice.”
GOP San Antonio City Councilwoman recorded telling staff that homosexuality is: “So disgusting!”           
Elisa Chan - Photo: San Antonio City Government
By Brody Levesque | SAN ANTONIO -- Republican San Antonio City Councilwoman Elisa Chan is heard telling staffers in an audio recording, during a May 21 meeting in her City Hall offices, that homosexuality is, “So disgusting!” In the secret iPhone recording Chan is heard expressing her belief that homosexuality was a choice and that LGBT people should not be allowed to adopt children.
The meeting's agenda was stated to chart policy strategy and response for the city's proposal to update its nondiscrimination ordinance, adding protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. 
James Stevens, 28 the former staffer who leaked the May 21 recording this week, told;
"My decision to record in the first place was that, during the staff meetings, we weren't really discussing the ordinance itself," Stevens said adding "We were really just talking about ways to appeal to the (voting) base and to get them fired up as opposed to analyzing the ordinance. 
[Chan's] not focused on the policy itself and how it's going to really affect the city. We spent 80 percent of that meeting talking about how disgusting homosexuality is.”
Chan is heard telling her aides,
"By the way, this is politically incorrect. I don't think homosexual people should do adoption. They should be banned by adoption. You're going to confuse those kids. They should be banned. 
If you wanted to choose that lifestyle, we don't want to discriminate you, but you shouldn't affect the young people," she continues. "How terrible. ... They're going to be confused. You see two men go into a bedroom. You see two women kissing. Is that not confusing? It's confusing." 
"It is actually, what you call, suggestive, for the kids to be corrupt, which is against nature. I'm telling you, anything that is against nature is not right."
The recording also caught disparaging remarks from Chan's former chief of staff, Jeff Bazan, who is currently chief of staff for newly sworn in City Councilman Ron Nirenberg. In the recording, Bazan is heard warning,
“The road we're going ... incest and being able to marry animals, that's all going to happen.”
Bazan told media outlets in Texas Friday that his comments were taken out of context.
"I was basically explaining the viewpoint that some people have on the gay marriage issue. What I said was wrong and I deeply regret it."