[EDEQUITY Equity Now] Comments on harassment, homophobia & Title

From: Linda Shevitz (lshevitz@msde.state.md.us)
Date: Thu May 23 2002 - 11:05:45 EDT

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Some comments on harassment and homophobia and Title IX.

In our state we have seen increased vigilance around sexual harassment
issues following the Davis v. Monroe case although a great deal more needs
to be done. The quality of programs and prevention programs varies from
school district to school district.

The pervasive harassment of gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered students is
being recognized and openly discussed more than ever before. Each school
district must submit a comprehensive Safe Schools Action Plan to the State
Department of Education which addresses harassment of all kinds, including
that based on sexual orientation. All school districts have been advised
that the Office for Civil Rights clarified in its Guidance on Sexual
Harassment that Title IX applies to harassment related to sexual
if that harassment is sexual in nature, even though Title IX does not
specifically cover sexual orientation. Training related to bullying,
particularly in elementary school, has also increased in our school

An amendment is currently before our State Board of Education to amend our
state Education That Is Multicultural By-law to include "sexual
in its list of diversity factors. This amendment, in various forms, has
taken 3 years to evolve, and has drawn heated attention from groups who
oppose its adoption. It appears that the amendment will finally be adopted
this June. The attention brought by Title IX to addressing and preventing
sexual harassment has been instrumental in raising issues of homophobia,
in having the School Board take action.

I would be interested in knowing which states have statewide school
related to sexual orientation discrimination, and would appreciate
copies of your policies. I understand that only 6 or 7 states currently
have such policies, and know that Massachusetts and Washington State have
particularly strong programs.

Linda Shevitz,
Maryland State Department of Education
fax 410-767-0431

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