Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Announcement to the LGHS Staff

Last week, Mr. Autrey made an announcement to the staff on my behalf. In this statement, I talked about the use of anti-gay slurs and the necessity to stop people from using them.

Its hard enough to stand up for yourself and even harder when the adults around you won't even stand up for you.

I mostly talked about the difficulties of being out at school and why teachers need to stand against homophobic behavior. Its not a suggestion, this is a reminder of law AB537.

“No person, whether or not acting under color of law, shall by force or threat of force, willfully injure, intimidate, interfere with, oppress, or threaten any other person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him or her by the Constitution or laws of this state or by the Constitution or laws of the United States because of the other person's race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender, or sexual orientation, or because he or she perceives that the other person has one or more of
those characteristics.

Schools are also responsible for ensuring that students are free from harassment and discrimination from any source while at school. This includes parent or community volunteers, and sports team coaches.

Like any other violation of the California Education Code, schools and school districts can be sued for not complying with AB537. Schools are responsible for ensuring that students are not victims of harassment or discrimination based on sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation. If they fail in preventing or stopping that type of behavior, they can be sued. In addition, administrators, teachers and staff may be personally liable as well.

Complaints of sexual orientation or gender discrimination must be handled in the same manner as other discrimination complaints. Students can file a complaint with the school board, with an investigation and written response due in 60 days. If a student is not happy with the response, they can appeal to the California Department of Education. Students are also free to file a civil action for injunctive relief (an order to stop prohibited behavior) or for compensatory damages."

Its my plea to the LGHS staff that teachers talk to their students about the use of homophobic and other hateful words that should and will not be tolerated.

I also ask that any teachers interested in becoming a teacher ally of the LGHS Gay Straight Alliance please email me at liznug@live.com.

Thank you all for reading,
Liz Gustafson

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