TX school official says Tolerance Week too gay

Superintendent Steve Murray

A school superintendent in Bastrop, Texas, reportedly has canceled Tolerance Week activities planned by two high school Gay Straight Alliances after his office received complaints. The Tolerance Week activities, including a dance that had been scheduled for Friday night, were planned by GSAs at Cedar Creek and Bastrop high schools. However, Bastrop HS junior Lilly Dunn told KVUE that the groups found out Monday the superintendent had canceled them:

After three weeks of planning, Lilly and her classmates were ready to go. Then they got a text message Monday night.

“What we were told by our president was that the superintendent had said he thought it was just a dance for gay people, and that’s why he canceled it,” said Lilly.

KVUE News tried to talk with Superintendent Steve Murray, but he is out of town. The principal of Cedar Creek High School, Russell Sassin, did agree to speak with KVUE, but only over the phone.

He says the superintendent called him Monday afternoon after his office received complaints and concerns about the events.

“He was asking questions about it, and the decision was made that we would postpone all activities, not cancel them, but postpone them, until I could get more information together to give to the superintendent’s office,” Sassin said.

Principal Sassin says he expects the dance and Tolerance Week to be rescheduled to sometime in March. Still, it’s leaving some students and their parents unhappy.

“It’s sending the wrong message out to the, to the students, and saying ‘Oh, if enough people hound on you, it’s okay to, just, you know, completely cave in,’” said Lilly’s stepfather Jesse Torres.

In case you’re interested in contacting Superintendent Murray, it looks like he can be reached via an “Ask the Superintendent” page on the district’s website. The site lists his phone number as 512-321-2292 and 800-247-5308. Watch KVUE’s report below.

—  John Wright

Garnet Coleman files suicide prevention bill that would ban anti-LGBT bullying, discrimination

Rep. Garnet Coleman

State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, has filed a bill that he says is designed to prevent future tragedies like the suicide of Asher Brown, a gay 13-year-old who took his own life last year in response to bullying at school.

Coleman’s HB 1386, filed today, calls on the state to develop a comprehensive suicide prevention program for middle, junior and high schools. The bill would also ban anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and discrimination in public schools.

“This is a heartbreaking public health threat which we need to address,” Coleman said in a press release. “I’m sick of nothing happening. We need to protect our children before they are driven to suicide or become severely and emotionally ill.

“It is our responsibility to ensure that a school is a safe learning environment for all children,” Coleman added. “Our children should focus on their studies, not worry about verbal and physical threats from their peers.

“Too many young lives are being taken because of intimidation and countless more are at risk,” he said. “This tragic loss of life is completely preventable.

“Current policy unjustly continues to punish the victim. We need to change that.”

The bill is similar to one Coleman has filed in every legislative session since 2003.

To read the full text of HB 1386, go here. We’ve posted Coleman’s press release after the jump.

—  John Wright

Gay teens get their own Valentine’s Day dance; now they just need a photographer and a florist

LGBTQ youth in North Texas are getting their very own Valentine’s Day dance this year.

Chapters of the Gay Straight Alliance from five high schools in Dallas and Collin counties are coming together for the first-ever “Love Conquers All Ball,” hosted by LULAC #4871 and Youth First Texas.

The event will be from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12 at Youth First Texas, and a $2 requested donation at the door will benefit the Trevor Project.

Jesse Garcia, president of LULAC #4871, said all teens ages 14-18 are invited regardless of whether they’re members of GSAs — and regardless of whether they have dates.

Garcia also said organizers are looking for a photographer to take digital images of the couples, as well as a florist who can donate 50 to 60 flowers. Those interested in providing photography or flowers should e-mail jessegarciadallas@gmail.com.

A full press release is after the jump.

—  John Wright