Sadler Stands Alone

Gay students and staff will not receive the same special protections afforded people based on race and gender, by action Monday night of the District 56 Board of Trustees.

Board member Dr. Patsy Sadler stood alone in her support for adding the words “sexual orientation” to Section J policies for student discipline and supervision. The board rejected her motion 1-6.

That means Section J remains as is, with the standard protections for race, gender and other classifications of people, and LGBTQIA students will not be included. The anti-discrimination clauses are in place for staff as well.

“The logistics are not there to add that verbiage – the consequences are unknown,” Board Chairman Jim Barton said.

Sadler asked that the district outlaw discrimination on the same basis as a statement by the Allendale School District – on the basis of sexual orientation, height, weight and socio-economic class. No one on the board, except Sadler, wanted to do that.

There is no federal or state law that requires a public entity to add “sexual orientation” to its non-discrimination policy. Still, 4 school districts in South Carolina have chosen to do so.

The board had an attorney standing by to address questions about the Section J policies, which have been under review for many months, but did not call for legal advice. Sadler said gay students are more susceptible to being bullied than straight students, and that could be a contributing factor to the rise in suicides.

She said the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has classified suicide as a public health crisis.

“Students are at risk for suicide,” Sadler said. In previous action, the board voted 4-3 TO INCLUDE “sexual orientation” in its non-discrimination clause. Board members in opposition said doing so would open up girls’ bathrooms to boys who say they identify as girls, and the action should not be taken until the state government takes similar action (which it has not done).

Sadler said the bathroom issue would have to be taken up on a case-by-case basis. What’s more important, she said, is that students and staff know that bullying someone who is gay is unacceptable behavior in School District 56.

‘We need to make our expectations absolute clear,” Sadler said.

“There is no law that requires it (yet) 4 districts have added it,” she said of equal protection under the law provisions for LGBTQIA students.

District 56 policies require two readings and approvals to become final – the Section J policies as rewritten passed first on a 4-3 vote and failed a second reading on a 1-6 vote. There is no tie-breaker vote.


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