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Brevard School Board passes LGBT non-discrimination policy

Brevard School Board Mtg.-photo

Brevard County School Board Meeting

(Publisher’s note: This whole thing is the result of the civil rights legislation which passed during the Johnson Administration after the death of JFK.  The right to discriminate is one of the most basic rights that we possess.  Dispossess our right to discriminate against anyone for any purpose, and you have taken the most basic right that a person possesses away.  Take the right to discriminate away and there really are no rights left.  Now you can’t even make a judgment against someone who one day says that they want to sleep with a woman, and the next day they want to sleep with a man, and the law says you must not discriminate against them on penalty of losing all you have?  But now we have passed this kind of thinking off to the most vulnerable among us, our little children.  The Lord Jesus said, But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (Mat 18:6.)

What kind of a nation have we become?)

Brevard School Board passes LGBT non-discrimination policy

Ilana Kowarski, FLORIDA TODAY 7:08 p.m. EDT July 19, 2016

 

The Brevard County school board voted 3-2 on Tuesday to pass a non-discrimination policy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students, teachers and staff….

On a 3-2 vote, the Brevard County School Board voted yes in support of the LGBT policy on Tuesday. Video by Malcolm Denemark

The Brevard County school board voted 3-2 on Tuesday to pass a non-discrimination policy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students, teachers and staff.

The policy prohibits employment discrimination and student harassment on the basis of either gender identity or sexual orientation. It contains three components, including an overhaul of the Brevard Public Schools’ anti-harassment rulesequal employment rules and grievance procedures.

School board members Andy Ziegler, Amy Kneessy and Misty Belford voted in favor of the LGBT policy, and members John Craig and Karen Henderson voted against it. The vote came at the end of a six-hour meeting with an audience of more than 100, including both LGBT policy advocates and opponents.

Proponents of the policy sat in the audience on one side, dressed in red, while opponents sat on the other side, holding signs with the words “Vote No.” People in the audience on both sides of the aisle clapped, cheered and jeered the various speakers.

Daniel Wall-DeSousa, a Heritage High teacher who originally proposed the LGBT policy in 2014 at a school board meeting, said he was thrilled by the outcome and that it made him feel more comfortable as an openly gay BPS employee.

“I’m so excited and I’m just really excited that we get to start the school year with this policy,” said Wall-DeSousa, a science teacher who has twice received school-wide teacher of the year awards. “It allows me to make decisions that are in the best interest of students without worrying about keeping my job. I can sponsor a gay-straight alliance club.”

Wall-DeSousa said in the past during his career as a BPS teacher he was afraid to take his husband, Scott, to school events for fear of disapproval from higher ups.

Before the vote, during the hours-long public comment portion of the school board meeting, LGBT policy opponent Betsy Delgado told the school board that if they passed the LGBT policy they would be defying the will of the people.

“A lot of people are against this change and you are turning a deaf ear,” Delgado said.

The contentious debate about whether Brevard Public Schools should adopt a non-discrimination policy for LGBT people is still going strong. Video by Ilana Kowarski/FLORIDA TODAY. Wochit

However, the school board members who voted in favor the LGBT policy said they felt a moral duty to pass it.

“As leaders, you need to lead, follow or get out of the way, and sometimes you need to lead,” Ziegler said.

Kneessy said there was an urgent need to pass the policy to protect the LGBT student population from bullying or harassment.

“I want to protect our kids today,” she said. “I don’t want to sit back and wait for something to happen. These are children we’re talking about. You’ve seen some of them now. We shouldn’t take a wait-and-see approach.”

School board member Karen Henderson explained her no vote on the policy, by saying that it was a dramatic and unnecessary change.

“If you look at the changes to the policy, it wasn’t just four words,” Henderson said.

Craig said that the school board should defer to higher authorities — such as the courts, the state, and the federal government — rather than creating its own LGBT policy. “Is it our job to reinterpret a law that continues to change and that is winding its way through the courts?”

Contact Kowarski at 321-242-3640 or ikowarski@floridatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @IlanaKowarski.

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