“Adding the Words” to the School District

Last night, the board of trustees for the Coeur d’Alene School District met to discuss the necessity of editing the existing employment anti-discrimination and bullying prevention policies to add sexual orientation and gender identity.

Here is the article from Maureen Dolan of the CDA Press:

They didn’t “add the words,” but Coeur d’Alene school board members are going to keep talking about them.

Trustees heard, during Monday’s school board meeting, from about 21 citizens who were nearly evenly split on whether the school district’s anti-discrimination policies should be updated to add language that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. More than 100 people attended the meeting at the district’s Midtown Center.

 

The nearly three hours of public testimony followed a presentation by Marc Lyons, the school board’s attorney, who reviewed the existing local, state and federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination.

“These civil rights laws, the federal laws, apply to the Coeur d’Alene School District, and I know that people are concerned that it doesn’t go far enough, but that’s for the board to decide,” Lyons said.

During the meeting, Lyons discussed the city of Coeur d’Alene’s recent adoption of an ordinance that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The ordinance does not apply to educational institutions or political subdivisions, and the school district is both.

He pointed out that the federal laws which provide protections to employees, students and others at the school district likely don’t apply to the businesses and other organizations the city of Coeur d’Alene’s ordinance covers.

Last month, the trustees asked Lyons to review the district’s non-discrimination policies after a citizen asked the board to overhaul them to include protections for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Monday, the trustees instructed the district administration to review the district’s nine policies that address discrimination, to ensure that they align with the federal laws that Lyons said already provide legal protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Many of the 11 citizens who spoke in favor of adding the words were gay or lesbian, and some spoke about being bullied and harassed while attending local schools.

Those who opposed changing the district’s policy language said repeatedly that more needs to be done to deal with bullying, that no new words are needed.

None of the trustees themselves were ready to take action on the issue Monday, and three of them – Dave Eubanks, Tom Hamilton, and Terri Seymour – made it clear they don’t think additional language needs to be added to the district’s policies at this time.

Trustee Christa Hazel said she’s concerned that without adding the words to the district’s policies, students who are being bullied and harassed won’t feel secure about coming forward.

Susan Moss, a Coeur d’Alene attorney and the citizen who asked the district to change its policies said she’s glad the conversation will continue, but it’s not enough.

“They really focused on bullying and lost sight of the issue of employment discrimination,” Moss said.

She said that while she agrees with Lyons’ interpretation of the laws, she said that adding another layer of policy will help protect the district from liability.

Here is the original link.

I think it would go a long way to submit some comments in the positive. So far, there are only negative things said on there (only four, but still…)

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One thought on ““Adding the Words” to the School District

  1. Pingback: Safe Schools Improvement Act (H.R. 1199) | PFLAG Coeur d'Alene

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