Saturday, March 28, 2009

2009 Iowa School Climate Survey is now Online!

Take the Survey

If you are a student who currently attends an Iowa High School please take this survey and pass it on to other high school friends. If you’re not in high school, please forward it to friends that are.

Thank you for helping us learn about the true experiences of what it’s like to be in an Iowa high school.

About the Survey:

Iowa Pride Network’s Iowa School Climate Survey is the only statewide survey to document the experiences of students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or straight allied (LGBTA) as well as the levels of racism and sexism in Iowa’s secondary schools.

Conducted biennially since 2005, the Iowa School Climate Survey (ISCS) fills a crucial void in our collective understanding of the contemporary high school experience. The results of this survey are intended to serve as a guide for every legislator, educator, school board and community leader concerned with ensuring safe and effective schools for ALL students.

ACLU sues California district over homophobia, including student Facebook page

According to San Jose’s Mercury News, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has sued officials in an Orange County school district, accusing them of allowing sexist and homophobic harassment and bullying at a high school that gained recent notoriety for canceling—then reinstating—a production of the musical "Rent."

The lawsuit, filed in state court, centers on the treatment of a female student at Corona Del Mar High School who was allegedly threatened in a video featuring three other students that was posted on a fourth student's Facebook profile.

The male students in the video used homophobic and sexist language while discussing sexually assaulting and killing the female student, according to the lawsuit, which identifies the student only as Mary Doe. The school and the Newport-Mesa Unified School District (N-MUSD) are accused of not adequately responding to the video incident and of condoning sexist and homophobic behavior.

Although much of the complaint is based on the school's alleged acceptance of homophobia, Mary Doe herself is not gay, said Hector Villagra, who directs the ACLU's Orange County office. The district said in a statement that officials were attempting to resolve the matter when they learned about the lawsuit.

The district said the lawsuit had numerous factual errors and mistakes but that “the district will utilize its best efforts to ascertain the truth of these matters, as well as to be sure there are procedures in place to allow prompt resolution of any and all disputes regarding discrimination and harassment."

The lawsuit mentions the controversy over the school's planned production of "Rent: School Edition," a slightly toned-down version of the Pulitzer-prize winning Broadway show, as evidence of school officials' alleged hostility toward gay students.

The lawsuit also accuses the superintendent of not responding to Mary Doe's parents' concerns about her safety and failing to assign an assistant football coach to investigate the harassment, although the three of the four accused students are on the football team. The suit seeks unspecified damages and asks that the school be forced to take steps to redress the alleged homophobic atmosphere on campus.

Source: San Jose Mercury News, 3/18/09, By Jacob Adelman

Indiana district agrees to allow female student to wear tux to prom

Lebanon Schools has reversed its policy requiring female students to wear dresses if they attend the prom after a senior girl who is a lesbian sued last week, according to the Indianapolis Star.

In a statement, Superintendent Robert L. Taylor said that the issue had been resolved. School policy for this year's prom will be that all attendees shall wear appropriate formal attire with no gender-based attire requirements imposed," the statement said.

"Female students will be permitted to wear tuxedos if they choose." Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and the student's attorney, said his client is pleased with the decision and will attend the April prom in a tuxedo.

"We think this is what the decision should have been all along, that there was never any justification for the policy," Falk said. "It's unfortunate that we had to go this far."

Falk had asked a federal court to force the school to let the girl, who remained anonymous in court filings, attend the prom in a tuxedo. The lawsuit said the school violated her right to express herself and discriminated against her because of her gender.

The district had long had the policy and had never reviewed it because it hadn't been challenged, the district's lawyer, Kent Frandsen, said last week.

Source: Indianapolis Star, 3/17/09, By Andy Gammill

Friday, March 13, 2009

Judge: Gay Club Can Meet At Yulee High

WJXT-TV, Wed., March. 11, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - U.S. District Judge Henry Lee Adams Jr. on Wednesday granted a preliminary injunction requested by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida to force Nassau County school officials to allow a students promoting tolerance for gays to hold club meetings on campus.

Nassau County schools had prohibited a Gay-Straight aliance from meeting at Yulee High School. Students Jacob Brock and Hannah Page, backed by the ACLU, filed a lawsuit challenging the restriction.

Adams ordered the district to grant official recognition of the Gay-Straight Alliance and give it the same privileges as any other student organization. He also ruled that the group did not have to change its name -- one of the objections of school officials.

"This is a victory for our clients, for the Yulee High GSA, and indeed for gay and straight kids all across America," said Robert Rosenwald of the ACLU of Florida. "Time and time again, we've seen discrimination and intolerance struck down by the courts in these cases, and for every school that wishes to cross the line, we'll be here to defend the students."