Monthly Archives: March 2010

Title IX – Homophobic Sexual Harassment Suit Settled

The settlement’s cost to the Mohawk School District by the numbers:

$50,000 to Robert Sullivan as trustee of victim
$25,000 to NYCLU for attorneys’ fees
Up to $100 per week to victim for counseling sessions, continuing through June 30, 2013
Cost for retaining an harassment expert to conduct a review of policies and practices concerning prevention of discrimination and harassment
Cost for annual training sessions for staff (through June 2013) with Anti-Defamation League

 Here is a link to my original post on this case


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Children Facing Homophobia at School and Parent Reactions

While many minority groups are the target for prejudice… and discrimination… in our society, few persons face this hostility without the support and acceptance of their family as do many gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth. ~Virginia Uribe and Karen Harbeck

This spring two LGBT youth stories about highschool prom have captured national media attention. In the first Constance McMillen’s highschool has canceled prom rather than allow her and her girlfriend to attend.  In the second Derrick Martin’s school has allowed him to bring his boyfriend to prom resulting in community unrest and some student protests.

In both cases the students at school along with the local community have openly come out against these high school seniors and openly come out as hostile to sexual minority people.  So what’s a parent to do? Continue reading

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A Lesson in ‘Human Nature’

Thanks to  a post at Sociological Images,  I just got a chance to watch an interesting ABC news segment that was a little social experiment in racism.  A trio of white and then a trio of black teens were set loose on a parked car in a heavily trafficked public setting.  The scene of the crime was set up in the parking lot of  a predominantly white suburban park in New Jersey on a busy weekend day.  Then the camera operators sat back and filmed the many witnesses perceptions and responses to these two groups of teenage boys acts of vandalism.   (Segment 1: White boys as vandals, and Segment 2: Black boys as vandals

The segment illustrates how dozens and dozens of non-black people in the same park, witnessing the exact same crime, respond very differently to white teen age boys vs. black teenage boys.  Watching the incidents it is easy to conclude that the black boys would have been arrested within minutes of beginning their activity, while the white boys would likely never have been arrested for the crime.   But that isn’t even the most interesting finding in the segment.  What is really suprising is that a second black ‘crime’ gets reported to the police by one concerned citizen.

Continue reading


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This Week in Packin’ Heat in the School Yard

The national news is reporting a large number of violent threats and violent acts taking place during and following the passage of the national health care bill.  Looking back at protester images and language over the past year, the meme of gun violence has played a key role in the ongoing public political ‘debate’.

This more and more open political tactic of threatening to shoot your opponent got me to thinking about how children are interpreting this sort of mode of arguing and managing a conflict. And that along with my awareness of the abundance of guns floating around in our society drove me to the following internet news query for today…

Google News Search: Elementary or Middle School Incidents involving a gun…
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Still Not Addressing the Racist Assaults at South Philadelphia High

Helen Gym wrote a recent post about a School Reform Commission meeting that took place March 17th in which the victims of multiple race based assaults at South Philly High testified once again about the racial assault that took place on December 3, 2009.  This time the point of their testimony was to address how “The school district response has been to distort and minimize, dismiss, deny, and obscure the scale and nature of these attacks,” according to Ellen Somekawa, executive director of Asian Americans United

On Dec. 3, about 30 Asian students were beaten in a daylong series of assaults by groups of mostly African American classmates. Seven Asian students went to hospitals. A district inquiry blamed the violence on racial tensions and unsubstantiated rumors that arose from altercations between Asian and African American students the previous day.

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This Georgia Prom is On

COCHRAN, GA — An 18-year-old senior named Derrick Martin went to the school administration requesting his out of county boyfriend be allowed to attend the prom as his date.

After the principal took the step of asking Bleckley County school officials permission in January to take another boy to the prom, Martin got word last week that his high school will allow it.

The article goes on to explain that Derrick is not fully welcome among his peers since he came out sophomore year and that he plans to “take out insurance on my tux,” just in case it gets damaged.  Just a casual nod to the hostility this young man anticipates and lives with as part of his high school experience.

In addition the author notes that a sampling of residents Monday drew plenty of objections to Martin’s plan, but few people were willing to give their name.    So, let’s celebrate this victory for Derrick, but be very honest about how very little ground is gained when an 18-year-old student suggests he plans insure his tux in case of homophobic trouble on prom night.   Read the full story here.

I sure hope Derrick’s parents follow the example of Constance McMillen’s father Michael.  When Constance’s school district decided to cancel prom rather than allow her to attend and bring her girlfriend, the murmurs of hostility grew quite a bit louder.   Michael told Ellen in this recent interview  that he put the school principal on notice that Constance’s safety was his personal responsibility:
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Less than Zero Tolerance for Black Youth

The New York Times consideres how ‘Zero Tolerance’ is unequally enforced:

At issue is the routine use of suspensions not just for weapons or drugs but also for profanity, defiant behavior, pushing matches and other acts that used to be handled with a visit to the principal’s office or detention. Such lesser violations now account for most of the 3.3 million annual suspensions of public school students. That total includes a sharp racial imbalance: poor black students are suspended at three times the rate of whites, a disparity not fully explained by differences in income or behavior.

Read the full article here.

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