Jason Haap, candidate for Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education and editor of the Cincinnati Beacon, wants the following section to be added to the district’s policies banning harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity:
Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity Harassment
Prohibited sexual orientation harassment occurs when unwelcome physical, verbal, or nonverbal conduct is based upon an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, real or perceived, and when the conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with the individual’s work or educational performance; of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working and/or learning environment; or of interfering with one’s ability to participate in or benefit from a class or an educational program or activity. Such harassment may occur where conduct is directed at the characteristics of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity such as slurs, nicknames implying stereotypes, epithets, and/or negative references relative to said orientations or identities.
Last night, he and local activist Kathy Laufmann attended a CPS Board meeting to publicly state their support for the addition. Though the meeting was dominated by workers who came to discuss contracts and wages, Haap reports some positive response amidst mostly surprise for the issue. No one expected it.
I believe the Bush administration termed it “shock and awe.”
Currently, CPS does include gender and sexual orientation in its Nondiscrimation and Access to Equal Educational Opportunity policy, and the district does have policies on Anti-Harassment and Bully and Other Forms of Aggressive Behavior. The former policy — 5517 — currently elucidates harassment based on race/color, religion/creed, national origin, and disability. A slew of recent school bullying related deaths has sparked a national debate on anti-bullying legislation. Passing local rules against sexual orientation/gender identity harassment is the first step in expanding such protections to other school boards and the statewide educational system.
Write your local Board of Education members (link for CPS constituents) and encourage them to include the Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity Harassment policy.