ACLU executive director to speak on BOE’s highjacking of public school curricula

Back in May, we published this story about the new social studies curriculum approved by the Texas State Board of Education that, according to activists, completely ignored the Lone Star State’s LGBT community and the contributions that community has made to the state over the years.

Randall Terrell, political director for Equality Texas, had attended a public hearing on the changes, and he said the SBOE, weighted with religious conservatives, was using the curricula to impose the religious beliefs of some board members on the state’s public schools. He said: “They want this to be a theocracy, based on religious law, but with their own personal version of religion. And it’s incredibly narrow. There’s nothing in this about being for the benefit of the kids. It’s all definitely to perpetuate their world view, their religious views.”

And some of those revisions, Terrell added, were just “bat-shit crazy.”

The LGBTs weren’t the only ones condemning the curricula changes. Folks with the Texas Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union had some pretty strong words to say about it, too — and they still do.

Texas ACLU Executive Director Terri Burke will be in Dallas on Wednesday, Sept. 15, to talk about “the State Board of Education’s recent abuse of its authority, including the efforts of some members to insert personal ideology into curriculum content. She will also discuss issues of importance to voters in the upcoming State Board elections in November,” according to an ACLU press release sent out today.

Burke’s speech, which will be followed by a question-and-answer session, begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff, 3839 W. Kiest Blvd. The meeting is open to the public, and admission is free.

—  admin

More Miss. homophobia: ACLU sues school for barring tux-wearing girl’s photo from yearbook

Earlier this year, the ACLU stepped in when a teenage lesbian in Mississippi was told by her school that she couldn’t attend prom with her girlfriend, and the Itawamba County School District eventually agreed to shell out $35,000 to settle the lawsuit brought by Constance McMillen.

Now the ACLU has filed suit against another Mississippi school that refused to include a female student’s name and senior photo in the yearbook because she was wearing a tuxedo. The lawsuit claims Wesson Attendance Center unfairly discriminated against Ceara Sturgis based on her sex and unfair gender stereotypes.

Sturgis attended Wesson from kindergarten through 12th grade. She was an honor student and a member of several sports teams at the school. A press release from the ACLU says nothing about Sturgis’ sexual orientation, but does say that she prefers to wear “clothing that is traditionally associated with boys” both at home and at school.

According to the ACLU press release, Sturgis at first tried to wear the “drape” used in girls’ senior photos to make it look like they are wearing a dress or a blouse, but it made her extremely uncomfortable. So the student got her mother to request that she be allowed to wear a tuxedo for the portrait. And the photographer agreed.

It wasn’t until after the whole picture-taking process was all said and done that the school principal told Sturgis he wouldn’t let the photo be published in the yearbook.

According to Bear Atwood, interim legal director for the ACLU of Mississippi, the school’s actions violate Title IX, which bans discrimination based on gender and gender stereotypes in public education. Plus, he said, they were just plain old “mean-spirited.”

—  admin