Subject: Austin, TX – protecting gay youth? (fwd) (fwd)

Date:         Mon, 2 Oct 1995 21:18:54 -0400

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From:         Kenneth Udut <kudut@RITZ.MORDOR.COM>

Organization: SOUP Leaf off of (Jersey City, NJ, USA)

Subject:      Austin, TX - protecting gay youth? (fwd) (fwd)

——– Forwarded message ——– Date: Sun, 01 Oct 1995 21:37:39 -0400 From: (-) To: Subject: Austin, TX – protecting gay youth? (fwd)

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Date: Sun, 1 Oct 1995 13:36:25 -0800

THE DAILY TEXAN P. O. Box D,Austin,TX,78713

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(Daily Texan welcomes letters of comment from persons in all parts of the country.)

Thursday, September 28, 1995


By Shanna Gauthier, Daily Texan Staff

Members of the City Council said Wednesday they will consider a city commission’s recommendations to reduce discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual youth through school and library-based programs.

The ten-point proposal, submitted by the Austin Human Rights Commission, includes recommendations to:

* implement policies in public schools protecting lesbian, gay and bisexual students from harassment.

* provide training for all school staff about the issues facing these students.

* advocate and support the development of social and health services to meet their special needs.

* make sexual orientation information available and accessible at public libraries.

In a prepared statement, commission officials said they are striving to eradicate isolation, physical or verbal assault against gay students in public schools, and to combat suicide among these students.

Councilmember Jackie Goodman said the council will look at the recommendations and determine if the city has the money to fund the recommendations.

She added that there are a number of other factors to consider with the proposal.

“We have to look at the legality of training [for state and city staff] because certain levels of interviewing are off-limits,” Goodman added.

The recommendations are based on testimony from state public hearings last year, and they are designed to address the concerns of Austin’s gay youth, said James Hill, chairman of the Human Rights Commission.

“We have to remember the voices of young people,” Hill told the council.

The commission’s proposal could reignite a debate that raged in 1994 over whether to offer marital benefits to the domestic partners of city employees.

The City Council initially passed a measure extending the benefits, but a coalition of local religious organizations and conservatives put a measure on the ballot to reverse the decision. The initiative, called Proposition 22, passed by a margin of almost 2-1.

Neither Michael Brandes, who was campaign manager for the group that put Prop. 22 on the ballot, or Jan Galbraith, chairman of the Travis County Republican Party, would comment on the commission’s proposal Wednesday.

Sonia Mohammed, executive director of the UT branch of the Young Conservatives of Texas, said the city should not make the proposal a fiscal priority.

“Enough money has already been spent to counsel teens through adolescence,” Mohammed said.

“Extra money should not be spent on sexual orientation based program,” she said.

She added that “implementing such policies would do more harm than good to gay, bisexual and lesbian students. They would perpetuate a general negative attitude toward gays because they often choose to segregate themselves through demanding such policies.”

But Vincent Fabello, co-director of the UT Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Students’ Association, said he supports the commission’s efforts.

“It is great the Human Rights Commission is addressing serious problems that everyone faces,” Fabello said. “I hope the city and people in general take the report as seriously as they take other problems facing our children.”

Hill said Wednesday the community must work together with parents of homosexual youth to protect them from harassment, violence and discrimination.

“Parents of gay, lesbian and bisexual students feel they can not protect their children from the public,” Hill said.

He added that the commission proposal focuses on the city, area schools and local social and health care services to address these problems.

Austin Independent School District officials have not yet received the proposals, an AISD official said Wednesday.

“Every proposal will be taken seriously,” said Della Moore, director of AISD communication services.

“It will be reviewed for feasibility and acceptance from students and parents,” she added. *



The Austin Human Rights Commission presented a report on Wednesday calling for increased measures to help lesbian, gay and bisexual youth.

A number of the panel’s recommendations — such as providing special social services for homosexual teens and giving students information that portrays homosexuality positively — will spark serious opposition. Many parents might have legitimate concerns that school districts could intrude into private family life.

But at least one suggestion of the commission should be undisputed. The panel suggests that schools implement policies “to protect lesbian, gay and bisexual students from harassment, violence and discrimination.”

Protecting gay teen-agers from physical assault by their schoolmates is not an example of political correctness. It is instead a commitment to the rule of law. State law does not permit people to attack homosexuals because of their sexual orientation; adopting school policies to prevent such illegal action is a tough-on-crime approach that in other contexts many conservatives would favor.

No student should have to fear physical assault as the price of attending school. All citizens, regardless of sexual orientation, deserve the equal protection of the law, and the proposal by the Austin Human Rights Commission suggests merely that school administrators adopt polices to guarantee the safety of all students — something that schools should be doing in the first place. — Robert Rogers *+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+

Note: The AHRC can be reached at AHRC, P.O. Box 1088, Austin TX 78767-8834.

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