Sexual orientation not part of school board policy

Posted on 25 Mar 2009 at 11:31am
By Associated Press

Lawyer says LGBT people already protected without addition of extra words

ABERDEEN, S.D. — The Aberdeen School Board has decided not to include sexual orientation on the items listed in a district policy that defines what cannot be discriminated against.

The board’s lawyer, Rory King, said people with nontraditional sexual orientations already are protected by the policy without adding words to the list. No school employees who perform their jobs are in danger of losing those jobs because of sexual orientation, he said.

Supporters of adding the category said Monday, March 23 the South Dakota Board of Regents and the state’s 50 largest employers prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in policy.

"Let’s be courageous, not fear driven," David D. Fischer of Aberdeen told the school board.

Aberdeen’s policy prohibits discrimination on the basis of "race, color, creed, religion, age, gender, disability, national origin or ancestry."

King said it would be better for the Legislature to tackle the emotional issue of sexual orientation than for school boards statewide to decide it independently in differing ways.

He also said it is inappropriate for school board policies to take on ideological battles. Adding it to the anti-discrimination policy would increase the district’s risk of being sued, according to King.

The board lawyer said his recommendation does not mean he endorses discrimination against a person because of sexual orientation. Several who spoke Monday said they have friends and loved ones who are gay and that they do not want them to experience discrimination.

Fischer and three others from the audience spoke in favor of the wording change. King and two audience members spoke in favor of leaving the policy as is.

Information from: Aberdeen American News, www.aberdeennews.com

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