California

Calif. school responds to claims that administrators harassed gay students

Sultana High School Staff Reports

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — A Southern California school district said Thursday that it will implement policies supporting LGBT students after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) demanded officials step take action to end discrimination against LGBT students by teachers and administrators.

Sultana High School

The announcement by the Hesperia Unified School District comes in response to an 11-page letter sent last March by the ACLU of Southern California and the law firm Nixon Peabody, alleging that Sultana High School administrators foster a hostile and harassing climate for LGBT students.

Teachers and administrators have made discriminatory comments about gay people, and have not stepped in to stop bullying by students, the letter stated.

In one incident, a teacher told a student who commented that he did not have a valentine on Valentine’s Day, that that’s “because you’re gay and nobody wants to be with you.” In another, an administrator referred to a gay student’s campaign for homecoming queen as a “joke.” Another teacher told a student to “take the gay headband off.”

The letter also stated that girls are being told they must wear dresses to the prom and boys tuxedos and students are instructed to wear gender-specific attire for their yearbook photos, in violation of state and federal laws.

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Additionally, administrators have censored the Gay Straight Alliance’s public announcements, flyers and activities such as movie screenings.

In its Aug. 7 response, the school district said the examples cited were isolated incidents and that there was no evidence of a culture of discrimination.

However, administrators also determined that “there are policies, procedures and training that it can establish, clarify or reinforce which will lead to a safer, more supportive and compassionate learning environment for all of our students.”

The ACLU said it is sending letters to all the school districts in San Bernardino and Riverside counties with information on its LGBTQ Student Rights Project.

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