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school district recognizes Gay and Lesbian History Month

Philadelphia
school district recognizes Gay and Lesbian History Month

The Philadelphia School District stood by its decision to note Gay and Lesbian History Month on its official calendars, despite vocal opposition at a board meeting on Wednesday, ThePhiladelphia Inquirer reports. The controversial subject at the school reform commission meeting led a 17-year-old female student to leave the room in tears as she exchanged words with one of the critics who opposed the history month. "Why does she have to be so cruel?" cried the Simon Gratz High junior, who asked that her name not be used. "I'm proud to be who I am."

According to the Inquirer, this is the first time that Gay and Lesbian History Month--recognized in October--was included in the calendar, which is mailed to parents. Officials said it was an effort to be more inclusive and follow a long-standing district policy requiring equity for all races and minority groups.

Cecilia Cummings, senior vice president for communications and community relations, said the district was not rolling out curriculum or holding celebrations this month, although individual schools with gay-straight alliances may have observances.

Critics panned the move as political, "confusing" for children, and one that has no place in the schools. "What were you thinking? What were you thinking?" Ann Martin, the grandmother of three students, said, admonishing the commission with her hand and calling for new calendars to be issued, according to the Inquirer.

Supporters of the history month--including speakers from the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, the Attic Youth Center for city LGBT teens, and students and teachers from several high schools who belong to gay-straight alliance clubs--sat quietly as critics spoke. But the critics heckled them when their turn came to speak. "We would like to thank the district for having the courage and compassion to include it," said Carrie Jacobs, executive director of the Attic, as students and others waved rainbow signs and cloths. (The Advocate)

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