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School Board Asks Students If They're Gay

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School Board Asks Students If They're Gay

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

September 2, 2006 - 11:00 am ET

(New York City) As high school students head back to classes for the start of a new year districts across the country face a patchwork of policies regarding LGBT students. While the number of Gay-Straight clubs grows nationwide some school boards have dug in their heels to block LGBT students from organizing.

Students returning to classes in the Rowan-Salisbury School System in North Carolina will face what is described as the most repressive regulations in the country. The school board voted last month to bar what it called sex-based clubs at the school and to declare the Gay-Straight Alliance fit that criterion. (story)

The recommendation to amend the policy and define the GSA as a sex club was based on the school district's existing mandate for abstinence-only sex education.

Schools in several states have or are considering regulations requiring parental approval to join school clubs.

In Georgia a federal judge ruled in July that White County High School must allow students in the gay-straight alliance club to meet on campus. (story) But Perry McGuire, the Republican candidate for Georgia Attorney General, says that allowing Gay Straight Alliances in schools is "much like allowing a pedophile club or a gambling club to meet at school." (story)

In the last session of the Utah legislature state Chris Buttars ® called for a bill that would have barred cities and the state government from offering the benefits and then proposed a bill to ban gay-straight alliances in schools. (story) On the Senate floor he said GSAs are a recruiting tool for gays and are "tearing down the moral pillars of society." The measure died in the legislature.

The need for GSAs was highlighted in a report issued in April showing gay-bashing remains a major problem in the nation's schools. (story) The National School Climate Survey was released in Washington by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

Three-quarters of students surveyed across America said that over the past year they heard derogatory remarks such as "faggot" or "dyke" frequently or often at school, and nearly nine out of ten reported hearing "that's so gay" or "you're so gay" - meaning stupid or worthless - frequently or often.

Over a third of students said they experienced physical harassment at school on the basis of sexual orientation and more than a quarter on the basis of their gender expression.

Nearly one-in-five students reported they had been physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation and over a tenth because of their gender expression.

Yet while the issue of protecting gay students and whether GSAs should be recognized roils school districts across the country one Canadian school board is taking a pro-active approach.

The Toronto School Board is launching a major survey of its students this fall to help set a policy to better serve all of its pupils.

Among the 55 questions being asked of students from junior kindergarten to grade 12 is whether they are "lesbian, transgendered, bisexual, queer or two-spirited". There is also a box to indicate "don't know".

Other questions involve race and whether they receive breakfast at home.

The Toronto board has prided itself on gay inclusion for more than two decades, but the survey was prompted by allegations that some schools have a higher expulsion rate for black students than white pupils. A probe by the Ontario Human Rights Commission recommended the board to start tracking suspensions by race and the board expanded that to include all minorities.

Students in grades seven to 12 will be given time in class to fill it out the survey while students in junior kindergarten and pupils up to Grade 6 will take the survey home to be filled out with their parents.

©365Gay.com 2006

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