Last edited: December 05, 2004

Board Votes to Change Discrimination Policies

Charlottesville Daily Progress, August 4, 2000
Box 9030, Charlottesville, VA 22906
Fax 804-978-7252

By Eric Swensen, Daily Progress staff writer

The Charlottesville School Board voted 4-1 on Thursday to approve two motions that add a section to its non-discrimination policies and student code of conduct that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Olivia Boykin was the lone board member to vote against both motions. The first motion modified the two non-discrimination policies, and the second motion changed the code of conduct. Board chairman Stephen Campbell and vice-chairman Richard Merriwether were absent from the meeting.

Thursday’s vote means that two policies have been amended to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation will be banned "in any aspect of school division employment" as well as in the provision of educational programs and services to students.

Language prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation was also added to the nondiscrimination clause of the student code of conduct.

Originally raised and rejected by the School Board in 1998 despite widespread community support, the idea of adding sexual orientation to the non-discrimination policies was revived by Merriwether at the board’s July 6 meeting.

When the board passed the policy changes on first reading at its July 20 meeting, everyone who spoke during the public comment session spoke in favor of the proposal.

That was not the case at Thursday’s meeting, where a number of speakers announced their opposition to the policy change.

"If you pass this motion, what you’ll be doing is endorsing and encouraging homosexuality," said Geoffrey Shaw.

"God loves homosexuals — he loves everyone. But God hates homosexuality."

Jay Delancey said the policy changes would create a legal quagmire for the school division. After the state of Wisconsin passed a similar ordinance, he said, 100 complaints were filed in the first year. He also cited a study that said homosexual teachers were 90 to 100 times more likely to become sexually involved with a child.

Anita Simpkins said that homosexuals could be protected by a general ban on harassment already contained in the School Board’s policies. She added that sodomy is a class six felony under Virginia law.

"I’m not sure it’s in our best interest to have pedophiles teaching our children," she said.

However, the majority of the speakers again voiced their support for the measure.

Brian Malone said that most scientific evidence actually shows that heterosexual men are most likely to molest children, and added that heterosexual people are almost as likely to commit sodomy.

"If the object is to keep people who have committed sodomy out of the classroom, we’re going to have a hard time finding teachers," he said.

Margaret McFadden said she didn’t believe the policy meant that the board supports homosexuality.

"What you are saying is that you don’t support discrimination in any form," she said.

Just before the vote, board member John Santoski spoke of the harassment suffered by his brother, a homosexual who died of AIDS 10 years ago.

"I’d rather not have anyone else go through that [harassment]," he said.

After the meeting, Boykin said she believed the policy change would have the effect of imposing the homosexual lifestyle on others, and questioned how much effect the policy would have.

"This is not going to eliminate them from being called whatever they’ll be called," she said.

She added that she would be quick to defend homosexuals under the more generalized policy banning harassment currently in place.

"I’d be the first one to protect them [under the current law]," she said.

In other action . . .

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