Mecklenburg Schools Consider Homosexual Themes
Special Report - February 1, 2008
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) Board is currently considering an anti-bullying policy that includes the categories of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression.” At a recent planning retreat, CMS board members discussed the proposed policy, which states, in part: “It is the policy of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education to maintain learning environments that are free from harassment or bullying. This freedom includes, but is not limited to, freedom from harassment or bullying based on an individual’s real or perceived race, color, sex, religion, creed, political belief, age, national origin, linguistic or language differences, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, socioeconomic status, height, weight, physical characteristics, marital status, parental status, or physical, mental or sensory disability.”
Although the CMS system already has a rule of conduct for students that prohibits bullying and includes the categories of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity/expression,” the proposed policy would carry more weight and is far more expansive. The rule is included as a directive in the student handbook, while the proposed board policy would require the CMS superintendent to collect data on bullying in schools, conduct annual training for teachers, staff and students on anti-bullying techniques, and publicize the policy to students. According to the Charlotte Observer, five members of the nine-member CMS board voiced support for the proposed policy at the planning retreat, while three members said they could not support the policy as written.
Concerns about the policy include whether the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” could open the door for the promotion of homosexuality and transgenderism in the classroom. In addition, the proposed policy lacks a definition of bullying. Without a clear definition, bullying could be interpreted to include disagreement about beliefs, leading to the silencing of opposing viewpoints on issues such as homosexuality.
The wording in the proposed CMS policy is very similar to the House-passed version of pro-homosexual anti-bullying legislation currently pending before the North Carolina General Assembly. The House version of, HB 1366-School Violence Prevention Act, would require local school boards to amend their existing anti-bullying and harassment policies to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression.” HB 1366 is not only overly broad, but unnecessary. This is so, because the State Board of Education adopted a general policy against bullying in 2004 that required all local school systems to adopt anti-bullying policies by January 2005. When the State Board policy was originally proposed, it listed special protections for 16 specific characteristics, including “sexual orientation” and “gender identity/expression,” but the Board voted to omit the 16 characteristics and approved a more general anti-bullying policy that protects all students. In 2007, after the House passed a version of the bill that included these enumerations, the Senate took them out before passing the bill and sending it back to the House.
Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council commented, "It is disappointing to see local governmental bodies take it upon themselves to try and pass policies that are clearly in the domain of the General Assembly. In this case, the attempt to include sexual orientation and gender identity would not only be wrong, but would move in the opposite direction of the most recent action of the legislature and would likely be unconstitutional."
The proposed Charlotte/Mecklenburg anti-bullying policy is scheduled to come before the CMS board for a first reading on February 12.
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