Teachers refuse
to display pro-gay posters

Defying a school
district order, five teachers at a Bay Area public high
school are refusing to display rainbow-flag posters, saying
the message of tolerance toward gays conflicts with
their religious beliefs. The posters, which read,
"This is a safe place to be who you are," are part of
San Leandro High School’s efforts to comply with a
state order requiring schools to ensure the safety of
all students. In December the San Leandro school board
began requiring all teachers to hang the placards in
their classrooms in an effort to curb antigay discrimination
and harassment.

“This is
not about religion, sex, or a belief system,”
district superintendent Christine Lim told the San Francisco
Chronicle. “This is about educators making
sure our schools are safe for our children, regardless
of their sexual orientation.”

The gay-friendly
Lim was hired in 2003 as part of an effort to make the
school more friendly and inclusive toward LGBT students. In
1997 a parents group at San Leandro High demanded that
a gay teacher be fired after she came out to her
class. Five years later an English teacher received $1
million from the district after he was disciplined for
giving a lecture on homophobia and racism. At the
time, the school had a policy banning
“controversial issues” from being discussed in
classrooms without a principal’s approval. A
judge declared the rule unconstitutional.

In addition to
Lim’s hiring, the pro-LGBT efforts have included
requiring teachers to attend sessions addressing
issues of gay and lesbian students, including dealing
with homophobic comments, for the past two years. Some
school officials are digging in their heels for different
reasons than religious beliefs though. “I think
it’s outstanding. Any hate language is not
permissible,” business teacher Robert Volpa told the
Chronicle. “[But] I have a problem with the
district mandating anything that could be political.”

Tags: World, World

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