Thursday, November 03, 2005

EqualityNC News: State School Board Fails LGBT Students

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North Carolina State Board of Education removes protected categories from Counseling, Social Work standards Raleigh - This morning the State Board of Education removed language from their revisions to the professional standards for school counselors and school social worker that would have ensured these professionals had an understanding of diversity, including sexual orientation and gender identity. Equality NC has been working hard to prevent the Board from giving in to pressure from the far-right NC Family Policy Council to remove this language. In just two weeks, more than 1600 supporters signed our petition to the Board, which was delivered prior to their meeting, and many professional and advocacy groups joined the fight. Unfortunately the Board sought an easy way out. Instead of just removing sexual orientation and gender identity, as the Family Policy Council wanted, they removed all of the categories, including race, creed, and national origin. The final language contains lofty language about understanding human diversity, but without a clear indication of what kinds of diversity are included, the policy is likely to have little positive impact on the day-to-day lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. "We are deeply saddened by the Board's failure to ensure that all students can receive professional care from school counselors and social workers, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity," said Ian Palmquist, Executive Director-Programs. "Although we are sure that no one on the Board believes that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students should be treated poorly, their decision today did nothing to prevent that from happening in our public schools." Equality NC applauds Board members John Tate and Edgar Murphey and the Board's Student Advisor Sara McClure for speaking out passionately for including the categories and protecting LGBT students. McClure, a senior at Southeast Raleigh High School, could not attend today's meeting, but she sent a powerful statement which was read to the Board. She shared the experiences of gay friends at her high school and how important it was that they were able to work with a counselor who understood these issues. Despite these powerful testimonials, the board voted down the inclusive language 4-7, with John Tate, Edgar Murphey, Wayne McDevitt and Melissa Bartlett supporting the inclusive policy. Equality NC and our allies will continue monitoring the School Board and working to educate them about the challenges LGBT students face every day. Equality NC recognizes other groups have also been outspoken in supporting the inclusive policy, including the NC School Counselors Association, the National Association of Social Workers - NC, Safe Schools NC, the NC Chapter of the American Association of University Women, Planned Parenthood of Central NC, and NARAL Pro-Choice NC. Source: click here UNCG PRIDE! also supported EqualityNC in its efforts to get the North Carolina State Board of Education to keep the enumerated categories regarding sexual orientation left in the policies. The Executive Board of UNCG PRIDE! approved a letter written by myself on October 19, 2005. The letter was mailed to all of the State School Board members listed on their website. ~ Matt Hill