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Hesperia school district changes policies for gay students

August 15, 2013|By Carla Rivera

The Hesperia Unified School District is adopting policies to support gay and lesbian students after members of a Sultana High campus club alleged they were being harassed and bullied, a legal group said Thursday.

In March, the ACLU Foundation of Southern California and the law firm Nixon Peabody LLP sent a letter to the San Bernardino County school system demanding that it cease the alleged censoring of activities of the Gay Straight Alliance and discriminating against lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender and queer/questioning (LBGTQ) students in the school. Campus officials were also accused of enforcing a gender-conforming dress code at the prom.

In an Aug. 7 letter responding to the claims, the district said that over the years there were some isolated incidents directed at members of the club. But it denied many of the claims and said there was no evidence of a culture of discrimination.

But administrators also determined that “there are policies, procedures and trainings that it can establish, clarify or reinforce which will lead to a safer, more supportive and compassionate learning environment for all of our students.”

Among the changes will be: adopting stronger discrimination, harassment, bullying and complaint process policies; awareness training for teachers; and modifying the student handbook to provide gender-neutral dress codes.

"I’m so happy LGBTQ students will be attending Sultana in the same building but with what I hope will be a completely different and positive environment,“ said Levi Johnston, a Sultana student who graduated this year. “I feel proud that, by taking a stand, our GSA changed things for the better for current and future LGBTQ students at Sultana.”

The ACLU said it is sending letters to all the school districts in the Inland Empire with information on its LGBTQ Student Rights Project.


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