March 29, 2006

Discrimination in OK Education

by Tre Ronne
Mar 26

March 23, the OK State Dept of Ed reversed policy to allow public schools to bar students' gay rights groups from meeting on school grounds. New policy also allows discrimination on the basis of "family, social or cultural backgrounds."

At [their March 23rd] meeting of the Oklahoma State Department of education voted to reverse its nondiscrimination policy with respect to sexual 0rientation.

At the request of Rep. Kevin Calvey, a candidate for Congressional District #5, the State Board of Education made a rule change that repeals their current sexual orientation policy to be more in sync with federal and state law. Calvey stated that this new rule will protect public schools from having to allow homosexual rights organizations to hold meetings on school grounds and will also give school board more control over personnel decisions.

First of all, this issue was not on the agenda for the State Board of Education. The Board is subject to the Open Meeting Policy as it receives money from the State and Federal Government. Oklahoma has a very interesting State Board of Education structure. The State Superintendent is elected by the people, chairs the State Board of Education, prepares the agenda and also has a vote. It certainly brings into question the "conflict of interest" policy.

Also, in 1990, the United States Supreme Court upheld the federal Equal Access Law. This new rule is in complete violation of that Law. Gay and Lesbian students do have the right to meet on school property as long as they adhere to the policy of school clubs and organizations as established by the local boards of education, i.e., faculty sponsors, etc.


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