HUGE WIN: Orange County Public Schools Add Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity to Non-Discrimination Policy

OCPSTonight’s board meeting was an evening of celebration coupled with observation of disturbing attitudes by the opponents of equality. First, a major thank you to all who showed up in attendance. It was a packed house, almost evenly divided but our red shirts had to be impressive to the Board, along with our perseverance to stay until 1:30 AM. The community came through and I have never been prouder.

Second, it was a handful of teachers and OADO members who were the catalyst to this success

We are creating a new protected class and these protected classes have been used to unravel marriage amendments across the country. We can't turn the schools upside down because a few students have special issues," opponent John Stembuger.

We are creating a new protected class and these protected classes have been used to unravel marriage amendments across the country. We can’t turn the schools upside down because a few students have special issues,” opponent John Stembuger.

with a special acknowledgement to Equality Florida for providing much of the documentation used to educate and persuade the members of the school board. And finally special thanks to the 5 brave board members who stood up to include Gender expression in the policy – Kat Gordan, Rick Roach, Daryl Flynn, Nancy Robbinson and Joie Watson Cadle. It took guts to make a public stand on a controversial issue….very disappointed in Bill Sublette who voted against gender identity though he did vote for the policy in the final vote.

A special thank you to the public officials who spoke….Comptroller Martha Haynie, City Comm. Patty Sheehan, and Rep Joe Saunders. Numerous others were in attendance including Scott Randolph, Rep. Linda Stewart, Rep. Karen Castor Dentel, and Rep. Victor Torres.Sitting among the opponents I was very disturbed by the bigotry and hateful comments that were being made. I really had hoped there could have been some common ground but that was not to be. Much of this bigotry was due to Florida Family Council distributing deceitful material which stated facts that were outright lies, and testimony that is now public record that includes:

  • Claimed there was no notice of the-hearing (numerous publications were made on the OCPS website).
  • Forced sharing of bathrooms and locker rooms between sexes
  • Allowing a defense for pedophiles
  • Weakening traditional marriage
  • Alcoholism
  • Exodus gay therapy works to convert LGBT people back to “normalcy”.
  • The overall demise of our civilization as we know it.

I was impressed that these lies were addressed by Chairman of the Board and the Board’s attorney, but they still caused a divisiveness that need not to have occurred.  These parents forget that who they may be talking against could be their own children.  The Center understands, and we are always here to support, educate, and advocate for people who live in homes that silence their voice.

Representative Joe Saunders and LGBT Support Team for OCPS School Non Discrimination Policy Update
We are all one community, and one day perhaps we will no longer need Non-Discrimination policies to keep us all safe and feeling secure in public schools, at work, or anywhere – a future where inclusion allows everyone the freedom of expression and identity that makes America a diverse and wonderful country.
Randy Stephens
Executive Director
The Center Orlando

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Comments

  1. Tom Woodard says:

    Great Report Randy! For those who do not know about OADO (Orlando Anti-Discrimination Ordinance Committee) you may find more information about us at http://www.oado.us.

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