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04/19/2007


Arkansas High School Refuses To Run Openly Gay Student's Yearbook Profile

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin has written a letter to administrators of Arkansas-based Sheridan High School, who are refusing to run a yearbook profile on openly gay student Taylor Ellis (pictured), demanding they not censor it.

TaylorThe letter reads in part:

Regardless of print deadlines, it would be unconscionable to release the yearbook with the omission of Taylor's well-deserved profile.

If not resolved immediately, this act of discriminatory censorship will send a dangerous message to all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students in Sheridan, across Arkansas and around the nation — that they are second-class citizens and their lives are not equally valid. Instead of respecting the wishes of Taylor's fellow students to recognize him in their yearbook, you have told him and other students who may already feel marginalized that they are not an equally valued part of the Sheridan high school student body.

Cases similar to this have popped up every so often during the past few years.

In 2013, a Texas high school pulled a lesbian couple’s photo from the yearbook and another Texas school refused and then assented to include a yearbook photo of a trans student in a tuxedo.

In 2012, four Colorado yearbook staffers left the publication after their advisor required them to remove a gay couple from a spread on high school relationships. In the same year, a Tennessee school board member protested the inclusion of an article entitled, “It’s OK to be Gay” in the Lenoir City High School yearbook.


South Carolina Republicans Slash State School Budgets as Punishment for Assigning Gay Books

South Carolina Republican lawmakers voted to slash funding to the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg because the schools gave freshmen assignments with gay themes, CNN reports:

SmithLast summer, the College of Charleston provided incoming freshmen with a memoir, "Fun Home," in which the author deals with coming out as a lesbian. The University of South Carolina Upstate, meanwhile, assigned "Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio," which features an account of South Carolina's first gay and lesbian radio show.

Rep. Garry Smith (pictured), a Republican from Simpsonville, proposed the cuts in the House Ways and Means committee and says they were prompted by a complaint from a constituent whose teen daughter was going to one of the schools. They would strip the College of Charleston of $52,000 and the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg of $17,162 for making the assignments.

The budget is to be considered by the full House this week.

Said Smith:

"I think the university has to be reasonable and sensible to the feelings and beliefs of their students. That was totally ignored here. I was trying to hold the university accountable. Their stance is 'Even if you don't want to read it, we'll shove it down your throat.' It's not academic freedom -- it's academic totalitarianism."

The College of Charleston meanwhile, says the book is not required reading.

The WaPo adds:

Several state senators have also complained that public universities are not following a nearly century-old law requiring schools to teach the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Harris Pastides, the president of the University of South Carolina, said the law would pose constitutional challenges: It also requires students swear a loyalty oath to the United States before receiving a college degree.


Gay Former Vice Principal Mark Zmuda Suing School That Fired Him: VIDEO

Mark Zmuda files lawsuit

Late last year Eastside Catholic High School vice principal Mark Zmuda was given a choice: divorce his husband or be fired. Zmuda refused to sacrifice his marriage for his job and was let go. Rather than being some incident kept quiet and swept under the rug, students and faculty of ECH loudly protested the unjust treatment, protests which kept going even into the new year and ultimately drove the school president Sister Mary Tracy to resign.

The school's problems with the incident are far from over as Zmuda is now filing a lawsuit against the school and the Seattle Archdiocese for discrimination and wrongful termination. The Archdiocese has already drafted a motion for dismissal, claiming that Zmuda knew his marriage - much like the divorce, which Jesus condemns in Matthew 19:3-6, that they tried to force him to get - went against the teachings of the church. However, prior to Zmuda's termination the ECH website stated explicitly that (bolding mine),

Eastside Catholic School does not discriminate on the basis of an employee’s or applicant’s race, religion, creed, color, sex, age, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation or any other status or condition protected by local, state or federal law.

The statement has since been removed from the school's live website, but everything lives forever on the internet.

The lawsuit was filed today, and you can see King 5's news report on the story
AFTER THE JUMP...

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FL School Decides Against Expelling Student Who Defended Gay Student From Attacker: VIDEO

2_betterson

Mark Betterson, a student at East Lee County High School in Lehigh Acres, Florida who was suspended after trying to stop another student from beating a gay student, has now been allowed to return to school. The news came after Betterson attended a punishment hearing Monday morning, NBC2 reports:

Betterson says he got into the fight with another student after that student hit another kid for being gay, and he says -- given the choice -- he would defend the victim again. 

"Bullying isn't called for, and everyone should be respected for what they want to be and what they want to do," Betterson said.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Florida High School Student Suspended for Defending Gay Student from Attacker: VIDEO

Betterson

Mark Betterson, a student at East Lee County High School in Lehigh Acres, Florida, was suspended for 10 days after trying to stop another student from beating a gay student, WFTX reports:

Mark Betterson says he realized he had to do something when he saw a fellow student throw milk in another's face, use gay slurs, and then start to hit him. James Griffin, 18, is charged with battery. His alleged victim, 18-year-old Jonathan Colon, who is openly gay, walked away with bruises on his head. Many who saw the fight say it could have been worse if Betterson didn't step in.

Said Betterson: Johnathan was just going to stand there and get beat up. And if I didn't jump into it, it would have gotten serious. I was just trying to break up the whole thing because it's jst not fair for somebody to get beat up for something that he is."

Watch (warning: autoplay), AFTER THE JUMP...

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Second Gay Student at MN High School Targeted with Hate Crime After Coming Out: VIDEO

Ratgen

On Wednesday, Towleroad reported that Ryan Eichenauer, a gay student at Centennial High School in Circle Pines, Minnesota was targeted with vicious death threats after he posted a video in which he came out of the closet, to Facebook.

EichenauerNow, a second student at Centennial has come forward with a similar story, KMSP reports:

In both instances, it begins with a student publicly identifying as gay -- and both were met with backlash by those who would invoke God or religion while expressing their apparent hate. Ratgen and his parents say they were absolutely crushed.

"I just don't understand why we're such a big problem," Ratgen said.

Ratgen came out in late fall, using social media to tell his classmates that he is gay. About a week later, however, Ratgen woke up to find the family driveway in Lino Lakes had been vandalized with a hateful message.

"On the driveway, written in very large letters: 'God hates fags,'" recalled Brad Ratgen, Noah's father. "It was absolutely disgusting. I went and washed it off right away."

The family reported the painful graffiti to police, but no arrests were ever made. Instead, the incident was filed as a hate crime with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Watch KMSP's report, AFTER THE JUMP...

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