Oklahoma City Teacher Criticizes Removal From Handbook Of Language Protecting Gays

Saturday, October 21st 2006, 3:13 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A high school teacher says Oklahoma City Public Schools administrators are ``nuts'' for removing from the student handbook language that he pushed for to protect gay students from bullying and discrimination.

``They are telling students, 'We were thinking of protecting you, but we changed our mind.' Student safety should be paramount,'' said Joe Quigley, a teacher at Northwest Classen High School.

Quigley served on a revision committee that came up with the language.

It was posted Wednesday on the district's Web site as part of the student-parent handbook. But school officials took the handbook off the Web site Thursday, saying the policy hadn't been approved by the school board.

``The language in the handbook has to be consistent with board-approved policy language,'' said district spokeswoman Sherry Fair. ``The book was not reviewed well enough before we posted it and sent it to the printers.''

Fair said the handbook had not gone to press but is scheduled to be printed later this month and will not include the language protecting students from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Quigley said a letter he received from Superintendent Bob Moore in 2003 states, in part, ``Our bullying regulation protects gay, bisexual and transgender students who may be the victims of name calling and violence because of their sexual orientation.''

Quigley said Moore's letter doesn't match what the district is claiming now.

``Either the superintendent lied in 2003 and the district never corrected that lie, or they're lying now,'' Quigley said.

Fair said the district's bullying and discrimination policies cover all students. Groups that are specifically mentioned as protected by the policy _ race, color, religion, ethnicity, national origin and gender _ are required by federal law to be mentioned in such policies.

``Other than that, our language is inclusive of all children and employees,'' Fair said.