DISD prohibits offensive language related to ‘gender orientation,’ whatever the hell that means

As Instant Tea continues our review of the Dallas Independent School District’s policies related to harassment, bullying and discrimination, we’ve come across something rather peculiar.

It’s on Page 5 of DISD’s “2010-2011 Student Code of Conduct,” in a section titled “General Guidelines and Notifications” and under a headline that reads “Offensive Language.” Here’s what it says:

“Such language includes, but is not limited to, the use of slurs or offensive language related to race, ethnicity, gender and/or gender orientation, disability and religious beliefs.”

Below is a screen grab lest you think we could make this stuff up, but you can also view the entire Code of Conduct by going here.

Now, can someone please explain to me the definition of “gender orientation”? And after you’ve done that, can you give me an example of offensive language related to “gender orientation”? Actually, please don’t. But do they mean “sexual orientation” or “gender identity”? Or both? Or neither? Because those are two totally different things. Is this a typo? Or is it a deliberate attempt to avoid the word “sexual” in a handbook that is distributed to students?

Well, we plan to try to find out. But in the meantime, Resource Center Dallas is preparing to launch a campaign to demand that DISD include specific protections for LGBT students in its new anti-bullying policy, which is set to be discussed during a Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday. We’ll have more on RCD’s campaign here in just a few. So don’t go away, and if you do, come right back. We’re just getting warmed up.

—  John Wright

Why doesn’t DISD’s proposed new anti-bullying policy specifically protect LGBT students?

Edwin Flores

Via Unfair Park, we noticed that the Dallas Independent School District’s board of trustees is considering a new anti-bullying policy.

Which makes sense in light of all the recent bullying-related suicides across the country. DISD Trustee Edwin Flores tells Unfair Park that the district needs to make its policies more specific and comprehensive. What doesn’t make sense, though, is the fact that nowhere in the proposed policy does DISD spell out the types of bullying that will be prohibited, such as bullying based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, and bullying based on gender identity and/or expression. In short, the proposed new policy, as written, DOES NOT specifically protect LGBT students.

If trustees truly want to be more specific and comprehensive — rather than just trying to score a few political points — they need to spell out what types of bullying will be prohibited. After all, it’s legal to fire someone for being in gay in Texas precisely because sexual orientation isn’t included in state employment law. Likewise, the absence of sexual orientation from DISD’s anti-bullying policy could be construed to mean that it’s OK to bully someone for being gay.

DISD has a nondiscrimination policy, passed in the 1990s, that includes sexual orientation BUT NOT gender identity, which explains why the district can so openly discriminate against a transgender girl who wants to run for homecoming queen. The nondiscrimination policy passed in the 1990s is non-inclusive of transgender people, and Andy Moreno is in some ways paying for it today.

The LGBT community shouldn’t allow DISD to put yet another non-inclusive policy on the books. How many more gay teen suicides will it take before the district addresses the real causes?

Trustees are set to discuss the proposed policy during their regular meeting, at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 14 in the board room at 3700 Ross Ave. in Dallas. There will be an opportunity for public comments at the start of the meeting. Also, contact info for DISD trustees is available here.

—  John Wright

DISD tears down Oak Cliff landmark

Michael Amonett sits amid the rubble

Since April, the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League has been trying to find a buyer the Oak Cliff Christian Church built in 1916. The building is owned by the Dallas Independent School District.

Over the summer, when no buyer could be found, DISD offered pieces of the building to anyone who would haul them off. The pillars would have been prime architectural material to preserve from the church. Michael Amonett, president of OOCCL, said an offer came from a salvage company but was a day late. DISD refused to wait until the company could dismantle and haul off what they wanted.

On Oct. 4, DISD began tearing down the landmark church. The property will be used as tennis courts for the replacement to historic Adamson High School. Neighborhood and alumni groups have protested tearing down that historic building as well.

While crews worked just behind him, Amonett snuck behind a construction gate to sit amid the rubble of the building he and his group tried to save.

The historic property figured in the Kennedy assassination story. As Lee Harvey Oswald walked from his boarding house a few blocks away to the Texas Theater on Jefferson Avenue, he shot officer J.D. Tippett on this block. Then he walked through the church property and threw his coat behind the building. Police found the coat here, putting him at the scene of the Tippett murder, if not JFK’s.

—  David Taffet

Guy-Gainer in runoff; 2 of 3 Stonewall-endorsed candidates win DISD races

Three Dallas Independent School District races were decided Saturday without runoffs. Nancy Bingham won District 4; Lew Blackburn won District 5; and Eric Cowan won District 7.

Stonewall Democrats endorsed Cowan and Blackburn. In the District 4 race Stoneawll endorsed Camile White over Bingham, the incumbent.

In a Tarrant County race watched by Dallas Voice, Dave Gainer advanced to a runoff after finishing second with 34 percent of the vote for the Place 3 city council seat in Forest Hill, according to unofficial results. Gainer will face incumbent Gerald Joubert, who received 43 percent of the vote. Rodney Wright finished third with 23 percent of the vote.

The vote was closer than the percentages made it appear. Fewer than 1,000 ballots were cast, and only 91 votes separated Joubert and Gainer.

The runoff will be in June.

—  David Taffet