Today's Indianapolis Star has a story about Indianapolis Public Schools and Lawrence Township Schools. With all the negative publicity some local schools have been getting, it's nice to see a pin-point of light. What are these two districts doing? They're updating their non-discrimination policies.
Officials at Indianapolis Public Schools and Lawrence Township Schools say such a move is essential to treat their staffs equitably, though opponents say it extends unfair protections to a group simply because of its behavior rather than race or gender.
Lawrence Township Schools is expected to approve the measure at its next board meeting. IPS has circulated its proposal and is expected to vote on it in the next few months.
"It's the fair thing to do," IPS Board member Kelly Bentley said. "I don't think it's right to discriminate against anybody."
IPS, the state's largest district, has been quietly adding "sexual orientation" to its nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policies for several years.
Among Marion County's 11 school districts, only Pike Township Schools has a policy barring discrimination against staff or job candidates because of their sexual orientation. Around the area, few districts include such protections for gay and lesbian staff.
Pike made its move last year after the City-County Council voted in December 2005 to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, said Elaine Eilers, a member of Pike Township's School Board.
"We are so incredibly diverse in our district, for us it was a no-brainer," she said.
Of course, the requisite bigoted quote from Micah Clark is included, but Dr. Eugene White's response is classic. "They're not living in reality," he said. "If we do know people are gay, we want to make sure we extend to them the same freedoms and liberties we give to everyone else. We wanted to be more inclusive." Dr. White is the Superintendent of IPS.
You might remember the IPS School Board member quoted - Kelly Bentley - from this post on bilerico.com. She is the step-daughter of bilerico contributor Sheila Suess-Kennedy.