LESBIAN, GAY AND BISEXUAL STUDENTS' BILL OF EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS

The right to fair and accurate information about sexual orientation in textbooks and other classroom materials.

The right to unbiased information about the historical and continuing contributions of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in all subject areas, including art, literature, science, sports, and history/social studies.

The right to positive role models, both in person and in the curriculum; the right to accurate information about themselves, free of negative judgment, and delivered by trained adults who not only inform lesbian, gay and bisexual students but affirm them.

The right to attend schools free of verbal and physical harassment, where education, not survival, is the priority.

The right to attend schools where respect and dignity for all students, including lesbian, gay and bisexual students, is a standard set by the state Superintendent of Public Instruction, supported by state and local boards of education, and enforced by every district superintendent, principal, and classroom teacher.

The right to be included in all support programs that exist to help teenagers deal with the difficulties of adolescence.

The right to legislators who guarantee and fight for their constitutional freedoms, rather than legislators who reinforce hatred and prejudice.

The right to a heritage free of crippling self-hate and unchallenged discrimination.

[Adapted by GLAAD/SFBA's Project 21 from Project 10 (Los Angeles Unified School District) and
from the National Education Association's "Teaching and Counseling Gay & Lesbian Students Action Sheet"]

{Special note from The P.E.R.S.O.N. Project: FEDERAL LAW MANDATES THAT EACH SCHOOL MUST HAVE A HARASSMENT POLICY, although the policy need not specify any particular types of harassment, such as racial, gender, or sexual orientation. This federal law clearly can be used to advocate for safe schools INCLUDING safety regarding sexual orientation. For more information on creating SAFE SCHOOLS, please see Appendix IX. Furthermore, the 1984 Federal Equal Access Law, and the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1990 Mergens case, mandate that student-initiated groups be permitted and supported within all public secondary educational settings, thus establishing a federally protected entitlement for students to form gay/straight alliances having all of the rights and entitlements of other student clubs and organizations.}

[excerpted and revised from a news report]:

In 1994, according to a report published in August of 1995 by "People for the American Way," there were near-record numbers of attacks in American public schools against books, curricula, policies and programs.

The TREATMENT OF SEXUALITY IN MATERIALS WAS THE MOST COMMON OBJECTION of parents, school boards and other would-be censors. Profanity ranked second, and conflicts with Christianity third, according to the report by the People for the American Way.

REFLECTING BATTLES OVER GAY RIGHTS IN CONGRESS AND STATE LEGISLATURES, HOMOSEXUALITY IN 1994-95 EMERGED AS THE NEW HOT-BUTTON ITEM FOR SCHOOL OFFICIALS AND PARENTS, WITH THE NUMBER OF ANTI-GAY OBJECTIONS JUMPING BY 50 PERCENT OVER THE YEAR BEFORE.

ALMOST 16 PERCENT OF ALL INCIDENTS DOCUMENTED BY THE PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY REPORT INVOLVED CLAIMS THAT SCHOOLS WERE "PROMOTING" HOMOSEXUALITY. IN MOST CASES, THAT AMOUNTED TO THE MERE ACKNOWLEDGMENT THAT HOMOSEXUALS EXIST.

"Two things have happened," says Deanna Duby, director of education policy for People for the American Way. "THE GAY RIGHTS ISSUE AND MULTICULTURALISM HAVE BECOME MORE PROMINENT, AND NATIONAL RELIGIOUS GROUPS HAVE TARGETED HOMOSEXUALITY AS AN AGENDA FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS."

THOSE GROUPS, DUBY SAYS, BELIEVE THAT "IF HOMOSEXUALITY IS GOING TO BE MENTIONED AT ALL, IT SHOULD BE IN A WAY THAT TELLS KIDS THAT IT'S ABNORMAL, IT'S PERVERTED.

"That has filtered down to local communities, where they're trying to censor books. At the same time, you have educators trying very hard to respond to the recognition that gay people aren't perverted, and that there needs to be something out there recognizing that these people are human beings and have made contributions to society."

The struggle for equal LGBT rights must move into the k-12 classrooms. This is where information is conveyed and attitudes formed. This is where the most pervasive and pernicious censorship exists. Censorship at this level, not only of ideas but even of FACTS, breeds ignorance and homophobia and suicide daily in classrooms across the land. Teaching about, or even talking about, LGBT issues is still taboo in schools...much like during the McCarthy era, when it was verboten to breathe the word "communism" in public.

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Last updated 2/14/96 by Jean Richter, richter@eecs.Berkeley.EDU