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Sunday, July 7, 2013
At the June 18 Montgomery County School Board meeting, the board skipped the second reading of a proposed policy change and inserted new language into the Montgomery County Public Schools Equal Employment Opportunity statement at accelerated speed.
Board members chose to include sexual orientation in their list of protections, despite the fact that board attorney Brad King explained that the 2012-13 employment opportunity policy incorporated federal and state protections and that neither federal nor state law provides a legal definition of “sexual orientation.”
He further stated that the addition would not provide any further protections than those ensured through the current sexual harassment rules. Finally, he said that without the existence of federal law, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission could not act on claims based on sexual orientation language added to the MCPS policy.
Despite King’s statements that no additional protections would be achieved, the board voted for the change. Fortunately, a majority of the board did follow King’s advice to put off adding gender identity to the list of protections until he could investigate this specific language; board members Joe Ivers and Phyllis Albritton were against the delay.
What could result in affording protections based on gender identity?
At Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., a 45-year-old college student who is anatomically male but identifies as a woman has been allowed to use the women’s locker room at the pool. Parents were distressed when girls as young as 6 years old were exposed to a naked male. A college spokesman replied, “The college has to follow state law. The college cannot discriminate based on the basis of gender identity. Gender identity is one of the protected things in discrimination law in this state.”
In Massachusetts, a new state law on discrimination has resulted in public schools determining that students can choose to use bathrooms, locker rooms and changing areas based on their preferred genders rather than anatomy.
Why the sudden and swift push into this arena?
Kelly Pleasant, speaking as president of the Montgomery County Education Association, requested policy changes during public address at the June 4 and June 18 school board meetings. She pointed to schools’ active diversity program, which aims to move students and employees from “tolerance to acceptance” of differences among us.
Personally, I have been opposed to the MCPS Social Justice Initiative since it’s launch in 2011. I neither expect nor desire my son’s school to apply psychological pressures on him to “accept” certain differences, especially on issues such as sexual orientation.
Though the school board deferred to King’s request for more time, members plan to add gender identity to their policy during a scheduled July 9 meeting (a meeting for which no public address time is scheduled).
Did we elect a school board to promote acceptance of sexual orientation agendas?
I’m still waiting for the board to discuss plans to improve math after our devastating Standards of Learning scores were announced last August. I hope our community will let board members know their expectations and priorities.
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