New York's sodomy law was held unconstitutional in 1980. In late 1993, the State Board of Regents postponed a vote on an AIDS education manual, which had already been delayed and revised, under right-wing pressure, to put more stress on abstinence as the best way to avoid contracting HIV. The issue was whether abstinence was stressed too much in the document, which was intended for distribution to schools across the state. Then State Education Commissioner Thomas Sobol defended the prominent role that abstinence had been given in this revision, stating "It has been the clear policy of the Board of Regents for some time now to stress abstinence foremost as the only surefire way of preventing the contraction of that disease." (Maybe Sobol's resignation after Pataki's election was not such a great loss?!?!?)
The regular state legislative session starts Jan-03; the legislature meets throughout the year.
The URL for the assembly member directory is
The Governors Home Page is
You may locate any school or school district in your state by going to the following search engine:
American School Directory
The State Department of Educations Web Pages are at http://www.nysed.gov/
The Board of Regents is what the state board of education is called.
Not state adoption. Local boards of education make text decisions. Curriculum adoption and implementations are also done locally. HOWEVER, the STATE education department DOES SET broad standards for public school students in seven basic disciplines. Since the standards are relatively broad, school districts, individual schools, and teachers exercise some discretion over what is taught. But there's a catch: Schools are assessed in part by how well the students perform on state competency tests. This helps encourage schools' adherence to state standards.
NYS has NOT been cooperative or forthcoming in providing answers to our several letters of inquiry. The impression given is (surprise!?) one of a huge bureaucracy with no one really in charge and no one caring very much about our issues or anything else.
State is trying to "improve education throughout the state through our 'New Compact for Learning' (1991, reprinted 1993 and still the current document being distributed by the state)." It calls for "collaboration on a broader scale than we have yet managed -- by parents, educators, State and local governments, COLLEGES, libraries, museums, SOCIAL-SERVICE RELATED AGENCIES, COMMUNITY GROUPS -- to bring together our collective energies in order to raise and educate our children better." [Capitalization emphasis added, and also below, to indicate language useful to education equity advocacy.]
You can get a free copy of the compact by writing to the state DOE at address shown below. As a result of this compact, a State Curriculum and Assessment Council and seven Curriculum and Assessment Committees have been functioning "to develop desired outcomes of elementary, middle, and secondary learning." The State Curriculum and Assessment Council has released reports on learning-centered curriculum (Oct. 1992) and RECOMMENDED OUTCOMES OF LEARNING (fall 1993) which we recommend you obtain. N.B. The state's educational bureaucracy is under serious assault by the right wing and the "budget-conscious" Republicans, who now control both the legislature and the state house. THEREFORE, everything is up for grabs and in transition. Nonetheless, one must find out the current documents and procedures, even if they are soon to change. For example, we understand that 1994 plans for "school-based planning and shared decisionmaking" which the Regents required each district to adopt and implement are still in effect. These plans call for PARENTS and teachers to participate with administrators and school board members in setting policy for local schools. This is a TERRIFIC opportunity to get PFLAG and LGBT parents involved!
PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS THE NEW YORK STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT'S nondiscrimination statement:
Subj: Re: Title IX and the NYS case
Date: 96-08-08 03:07:36 EDT
From: SARATOGANY@aol.com (John Meyers)
I recently had a lengthy telecon with Michael Moon, Director, Division of Civil Rights and Intercultural Relations, NYS Education Dept. (518) 474-5923.
***Mr. Moon stated to me that gay students are covered by Title IX, US Education ***Amendments, 1972. He explicitly mentioned that the Title covers gender and ***GENDER RELATED issues. [P.E.R.S.O.N. notes: TITLE IX is a FEDERAL law, so this applies to ALL STATES. For more information, see our Web Site at Resources, Legal; and the Bibliography (gender equity section) and National Resources Appendices and the introduction of the Organizing Handbook].
He subsequently sent me a packet that included Title IX together with SEXUAL HARASSMENT GUIDE IN THE SCHOOLS, A GUIDEBOOK. [ P.E.R.S.O.N. notes: all NYS LGBT education equity activists should CALL Mike Moon to request a copy of this guidebook. His contact info is shown below.]
However, the Guidebook itself does not contain the words SEXUAL ORIENTATION.
There is info about sexual harassment in the LOCKER ROOMS and about UNWELCOME BEHAVIOR of a SEXUAL NATURE, wherein is stated" Such conduct creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment."
Hostile Environment is a well-established "term of art" in gender equity law.
Mr. Moon has a large resource of materials available, state, federal and private. fyi, Mike Moon, Sex Equity Specialist, NY State Dept of Ed, 518-474-5923.
The NYS Board of Regents governs the k-12 schools system. Current Regents' Chancellor is Carl Hayden. Regent R. Carlos Carballada of Rochester is pro-voucher.
Excerpts from "THE REGENTS (sic) BILL OF RIGHTS FOR CHILDREN":
[our note re X, supra: X means that straight children need to be educated not to hate, not to discriminate, not to commit hate violence, and, on the positive side, to understand and accept difference, to protect minorities, to seek truthful information, to be responsible citizens and voters].
OTHER EXAMPLES OF OFFICIAL LANGUAGE WHICH PROVIDES THE BASISFOR ENTRY-LEVEL ADVOCACY RE LGBT INCLUSION (excerpts from "A New Compact for Learning"):
In discharging this mission, we will be guided by the following values: [excerpted]
Recommendation: Find a friendly contact within this huge bureaucracy and get from her/him as much paper as you can on how the state k-12 system works. In New York, there are two people who might help you. Mike Moon, Sex Equity Specialist, NY State Dept of Ed, 518-474-5923 is very good and experienced re gender equity issues in the schools. Mary Ann Etu is also very good as the Vocational Equity Coordinator in the same agency. Her phone is 518-474-4809. They can provide lots of resources.
This is a state with STATEWIDE testing (grades 9 and up, called Regents' exams), so we KNOW that there MUST, after all, be SOME statewide curricular standards. Get copies of those standards documents for each subject area and scrutinize them for language which can be used to advocate for inclusion of LGBT information. Examples of such language would be discussion of diversity, of tolerance, of historical accuracy, of need for self-esteem or role models, any language purporting to declare the state's educational system as an inclusive one, etc. etc.
A Directory of Public and Non-Public Schools and Administrators for The State of New York can be found at
New York's relationship with its gay and lesbian citizens is as diverse as the state itself. NYS state currently has a total of thirty-four openly gay state officials, twenty-four of whom were elected. In January 1995 Attorney General Dennis Vacco removed sexual orientation from categories meriting protection against discrimination. This was followed up in February by State senate majority leader Joseph Bruno stating that he will not extend domestic partner benefits to senate employees. Starting to sound like Georgia?
We all probably remember the huge controversy in New York City in 1992-3 about the "Rainbow Curriculum," a comprehensive multicultural approach which then included discussion of sexual orientation. The radical religious right organized successfully to defeat this curriculum, in particular succeeding in forming alliances with conservative elements in communities of color. The city and state are still reeling in and dealing with the aftermath of this viciously divisive battle. For further information and a current situation report, contact the good folks at PACE (see below). Also, the NYC Board of Education can be reached at 110 Livingston St., phone= 718-935-3294, fax= 718-935-5402.
Out lesbian Brooklyn (NY) School Board member Jill Harris was re-elected in May of 1996.
ALLIES AND YOUTH RESOURCES
There is much in this manual about how to access and utilize news media.
Why should you care about news media?
This is such a high profile issue that inevitably it becomes front page news, whether you wanted it to or not. You have to be ready to handle the media, and it is best to be proactive and put your side of the story out there first.
Get to know your area media people. Make sure you are always accessible to them. Make sure you provide them with accurate information. Be helpful to them, giving them story ideas and leads, background briefings, etc. Be persistent and polite. Remember, media are one of the most pervasive influences in our culture...they can make or break your efforts. Use them to teach the public at large, to organize, to develop allies.
Never let media inaccuracies go unaddressed...the slightest misuse of a word can change a whole story and, if let go, can ultimately ruin all your efforts.
We have provided statewide print media because the orientation of this manual is for systematic change at the statewide level in educational systems. Many smaller media outlets use wire service reports or stories from the major newspapers in their state or area. Thus, you will find that stories big and small bounce up and down the media ladder within a state. It is important to monitor media statewide, since stories, whether good or bad, spread in this multiplier fashion.
Even more important, from the standpoint of your being PROACTIVE, you will want to get the jump on the opposition by sending your releases out by fax and email to as many media as possible.
For important tips on using media and media skills, please refer to APPENDIX VI of our organizing handbook at
For YOUR state's mainstream newspapers, go to
For a searchable database for US local TV stations, go to
LGBT PRINT MEDIA
Erie Gay Community Newsletter (EGCN); Michael K. Mahler, PO Box 3063 Erie PA 16508-0063; Voice: 814-456-9833; Fax: 814-452-1392; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org World Wide Web Page: http://www.eriegaynews.com/ "Covering News and Events in the Erie, Chautauqua County, Buffalo, Cleveland & Pittsburgh Areas"
Christopher Street (New York NY, phone= (212)627-2120 , fax= ( 212)727-9321
Empty Closet (Rochester NY), phone= (716)244-9030 , fax= ( 716)244-8246
In The Life (Yonkers NY), phone= (914)485-2675 x268
LGNY is a new lesbian and gay newspaper for New York (published by former publishers of OUTWEEK and QW), email= LGNY@aol.com. They are on-line with a new issue every other week.
QNews, Western NY's queer newspaper, is a publication of the Community Network of western NY. Publication date: second Friday of each month. Managing Editor: Connie Burns, email= ConnieBrns@aol.com
New York Native (New York NY), phone= (212)627-2120 , fax= 1 212)727-9321
NYQ (New York NY), fax= ( 212)979-0324
Out (New York NY), phone= (212)334-9119 , fax= ( 212)334-9227
Volume (Buffalo NY), phone= (716)652-1193 , fax= ( 716)655-0562
Return to the Handbook Table of ContentsLast updated 11/14/2003 by Jean Richter, richter@eecs.Berkeley.EDU
Copyright 1995, The P.E.R.S.O.N. Project.