School officials condemn hateful response to lesbian couple elected homecoming king, queen

Rebeca Arrellano, left, and Haileigh Adams

It’s easy — and, I think, common — for those of us who are a bit older to bemoan the state of our youth today. We gripe about their lack of respect, their lack of ambition, the way they dress, the music they listen to — the list goes on.

But news this week out of San Diego indicates that perhaps we old folks could learn a few lessons from the young’uns.

On Friday, Oct. 28, during their homecoming pep rally, students at Patrick Henry High School elected lesbian Rebeca Arellano as their  2011 homecoming king. Then on Saturday night, Oct. 29, at the homecoming dance, they named Rebeca’s girlfriend, Haileigh Adams, as their homecoming queen. Read that again: The two girls were elected by their classmates. And if you read the articles about the event, it looks like their classmates are, for the most part, satisfied with their choice.

But some of the older folks are not so happy. In fact, according to this article in the Los Angeles Times and the Fox 5 news report video you can watch below, some older folks are being downright hateful about it.

Officials with Patrick Henry High say they have been deluged with hate mail and hateful calls since news reports of Rebeca and Haileigh’s elections were published, and some of those comments and calls have been, they said, “disturbing.”

San Diego schools Supt. Bill Kowba told the LA Times that adults sending the hateful calls and letters are “demonstrating such a lack of tolerance and are presenting such a negative role model for children with their hateful comments.” He noted that if it were students behaving so badly, they would be disciplined, and then, after congratulating Rebeca and Haileigh, declared, “I look forward to the day when all students can come to school, free of harassment and bullying.”

Looks to me like there are a bunch of us “adults” out there who could stand to learn a lesson from the youngsters at Patrick Henry High.

—  admin

Weekly Best Bets • 08.19.11

Saturday 08.20

Homecoming queenVial
This week’s cover story focuses on the reunion of Jane Doe, but let’s not forget that it’s a big night for Deborah Vial too. The singer returns to Dallas to host the CD release of Stages and Stones. It’s gonna be like a vintage night out at Sue Ellen’s in the ’90s but like huge. Yeah. They’re even playing the big room at HOB.

DEETS: House of Blues, 2200 N. Lamar St.
7:30 p.m. $10. HouseOfBlues.com.

………………..

Wednesday 08.24

‘Green’ screen
In The Green, Michael and David have the ideal suburban life in Connecticut. But an accusation turns their world around and Michael has to defend himself against suspicious coworkers and even his partner’s doubts. Q Cinema’s Fall Film Series returns with this drama starting Jason Butler Harner and Glee’s Cheyenne Jackson.

DEETS: Four Day Weekend Theater,
312 Houston St., Fort Worth. 8 p.m. $10.
QCinema.org

………………..

Thursday 08.25

THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED.

How’s this for a cast party?
WaterTower Theatre hosts a launch party for its WTT Pride series of three shows geared to LGBT theater fans. Theater, dancing, cocktails and disco? Will wonders never cease?

DEETS: Station 4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road. 9 p.m.
Email GPatterson@WaterTowerTheatre.org or call 972-450-6227.

 

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition
August 19, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Mich. school’s policy change presents opportunity to revisit transgender homecoming issue in Dallas

Andy Moreno

Remember Andy Moreno, the transgender girl who was denied a chance to run for homecoming queen at North Dallas High School?

Well, not surprisingly, it turns out that North Dallas isn’t the only school in the country that’s had to deal with this issue. But unlike NDHS or DISD, schools in other districts appear to be learning from their mistakes and drafting policies to avoid a repeat of the problem. For example, the NBC affiliate in Grand Rapids, Mich., reported Monday that students at Mona Shores High School will henceforth select a gender-neutral homecoming court:

The change comes about five months after a transgender student wasn’t allowed to run for homecoming king at Mona Shores.

Oakleigh Reed is registered at the school as a girl, but plans to undergo a sex change upon turning 18. Reed identifies as a boy, and students and teachers at Mona Shores recognize Oak that way, as well.

Reed was disqualified from running for homecoming king in September. Since last fall, school officials have been trying to figure out a way to avoid a similar situation from happening again.

The solution?

The juniors and seniors will vote on a gender-neutral prom court this spring. The policy will stand for future homecoming events, as well. There will be two juniors and two seniors on the courts; the sex of the students won’t be considered.

“I’m so glad that the rules have been changed,” Reed said in a news release from the ACLU. “All I wanted was a chance for all students to participate and be heard. Now, my classmates and I can just focus on having a great time at our school dance.”

We’ve contacted Jon Dahlander, a spokesman for the Dallas Independent School District, to find out whether there have been any further discussions about this issue since the Andy Moreno controversy in October. We’ve also left a message with Dinnah Escanilla, the principal at North Dallas High School who told Moreno she couldn’t run for queen because she was born a boy — a decision that the district stood behind.

We’ll let you know what we find out.


—  John Wright

U.S. Department of Education warns schools that anti-gay bullying can violate civil rights laws

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

“It Gets Better” has been a success. Videos and public appearances by people like Councilman Joel Burns led to videos by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

A transgender North Dallas High School student’s attempt to run for homecoming queen ended with a rally of support at her school as well as an appearance on MTV.

Many young people have gotten the message but so have school districts and even the U.S. Department of Education.

The education department announced Tuesday that school districts that do nothing to combat bullying will lose money. The letter said the guidelines “do include protection against harassment of members of religious groups based on shared ethnic characteristics as well as gender and sexual harassment of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender individuals.”

The announcement also said that the White House will convene a conference on bullying early next year.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said:

“Bullying is a problem that shouldn’t exist. No one should ever feel harassed or unsafe in a school simply because they act or think or dress differently than others. To every student who feels threatened or harassed—for whatever reason—please know that you are not alone. Please know that there are people who love you. And please know that we will protect you.”

—  David Taffet

WATCH: Laura Bush speaks out against anti-gay bullying, says she’s proud of Joel Burns

Last week we noted that former first lady and Dallas resident Laura Bush, despite her stated support for equality for same-sex couples and her longtime focus on education, hadn’t said anything about the gay teen bullying and suicide crisis. Well who knows, maybe she was listening, because while Bush hasn’t yet made her own “It Gets Better” video, she did say this about the subject in an interview with ABC News (video above):

“Bullying in every kind, certainly gay teens, is really, really terrible, but any children, is terrible. And schools really need to make sure that bullying is not going on,” Bush says. “I was proud of the Fort Worth city councilmember [Joel Burns] that talked about it. I think that’s part of the ‘It’ll get better’ project. I think that’s what he said to children, to young gay teenagers is, ‘It will get better,’ and it’s really important for us to not allow bullying of any kind in schools.”

Coincidentally, Bush goes on to talk about a recent visit to North Dallas High School, which is where transgender student Andy Moreno was denied a chance to run for homecoming queen. Have a look.

—  John Wright

North Texas becomes the gay news capital of the world — at least for a few weeks

In my 3½ years at Dallas Voice, I can’t remember a two-week period when North Texas generated so much national attention for a series of different LGBT-related stories. There was, of course, the Rainbow Lounge raid last year, but that was really one huge story, not four big ones.

First, there was Andy Moreno’s bid to become homecoming queen at North Dallas High School. Then there was Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns “It Gets Better” speech. Then there was the Dallas Police Department’s raid of The Club Dallas. And now, there’s Jon Langbert’s battle against the Boy Scouts, which landed him on national TV last night. Here’s the video:

—  John Wright

DISD trustee to propose LGBT-inclusive bullying policy, transgender homecoming guidelines

Lew Blackburn

Lew Blackburn, a member of the Dallas Independent School District’s board of trustees, said Monday he plans to propose an anti-bullying policy that includes specific protections for LGBT students.

DISD is already considering a new anti-bullying policy, but as currently written, it doesn’t spell out the categories of students who would be protected. Last week, Resource Center Dallas asked DISD to add protections for specific groups, including sexual orientation and gender identity. Several youth across the nation who were gay or perceived to be gay have committed suicide in response to bullying and harassment in recent weeks.

“The policy that the administration has recommended is the same policy that the Texas Association of School Boards has recommended,” Blackburn told Instant Tea on Monday. “What I’m doing is looking at policies across the nation, not just in Texas. I’m looking for something more wide-ranging.

“I’m still doing some research, and what I’m hoping to do is come back to the administration with a revision to what they have proposed with some additional language that other states are using,” Blackburn said. “I think it’s going to be up for approval next week, but I’m going to try to have it delayed for another month so we can get more language into the policy.”

Blackburn encouraged people in the LGBT community to contact their trustees about the new anti-bullying policy. Contact information for trustees is listed on DISD’s website.

We also asked Blackburn about the recent controversy involving Andy Moreno, the transgender girl who was denied a chance to run for homecoming queen at North Dallas High School.

Blackburn responded that he plans to ask the administration to draft a policy on the subject and bring it to the board of trustees for consideration. He said he’s concerned that in the absence of such a policy, principals at different schools could reach different decisions.

“I would like for us to be consistent district-wide,” Blackburn said. “We need to start talking about it so that we have something in policy before the start of school for next year. It’s new territory for us, and I think we need to take our time and do it right.”

—  John Wright

The hate continues: 3 teens arrested for assaulting gay classmate

This week, we here in the LGBT community in DFW are celebrating the courage of two members of our community: Trans teen Andy Moreno who chose to stand and fight when her high school principal told her she couldn’t run for homecoming queen, and Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns, whose impassioned and powerful speech on teen suicide and his own struggle as a teen is reaching people around the world.

But elsewhere, the same hatred and bullying and harassment that played a role in a number of highly-publicized teen suicides over the past month was rearing its ugly head once again.

Nassau County police this week arrested three Long Island teenagers for allegedly assaulting a classmate for being gay — not once, but twice, and both times on a school bus, according to reports at WPix.com.

Police have charged 18-year-old David Spencer of North Valley Stream, 16-year-old Chase Morrison of Lakeview both with second-degree aggravated harrassment and third-degree assault, and they have charged 14-year-old Roy Wilson of Baldwin with third-degree assault.

According to reports, the three assailants attacked their 14-year-old classmate on the bus Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 12, as it left Nassau BOCES Career Preparatory High School in Hicksville, kicking and stomping him while hurling anti-gay epithets at him. The next morning, Wednesday, Oct. 13, when the unnamed victim boarded the bus  to go to school, the three attacked him again, using anti-gay insults as they slapped him in the face and head.

The three were arrested later Wednesday afternoon.

—  admin

Scenes from today’s rally outside North Dallas High School in support of Andy Moreno

If you turn on the local TV news tonight, you’ll undoubtedly see coverage of today’s rally outside North Dallas High School in support of Andy Moreno, the transgender girl whose principal decided she wasn’t fit to run for homecoming queen. A dozen or so protesters from Queer LiberAction gathered on a street corner in front of the school at about 3:30 p.m. As the bell rang a few minutes later and students poured down the front steps, QL organizer Elizabeth Pax yelled through a megaphone for those who support Andy to join the protesters. Hundreds of students swarmed the street corner, cheering and chanting as Moreno stood alongside Pax looking on. Crews from several local TV stations, as well as from CNN and MTV News, were on hand. The protesters and students, including Moreno, eventually marched up and down Cole Avenue yelling things like “Who’s queen? Our queen!” as police and school officials watched nearby. We’ll post a full story and video from the rally shortly. More pics below.

UPDATE: We’ve posted our story here.

—  John Wright

Protest planned to support transgender student

From Queer LiberAction’s website.

Queer LiberAction is planning a protest to support North Dallas High School transgender student Andy Moreno.

According to QL organizer Gabe Coppinger, the action will be held Thursday, Oct. 14 beginning at 3:30 p.m. School lets out at 3:45 p.m.

Andy Moreno was denied a spot as a finalist for homecoming queen on Monday despite reports from members of the vote-counting committee that she received more votes than at least one of the other finalists. Coppinger said the group will be there to support Moreno and thank the students who voted for her as well as the faculty and staff that have treated her with respect. The group’s only criticism with the school is the bullying that they say has come from the principal.

Coppinger said more details will follow.

—  David Taffet