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Posted on Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 10:16 p.m.

Saline school board continues to debate changes to its non-discrimination policy

By Kyle Feldscher

Saline student Kevin Anderson, who is straight, says he's been called homosexual slurs at school. His best friend is a lesbian and “feels like everyone hates her,” he says.

Anderson is among those advocating for a change in the Saline Area Schools non-discrimination policy to add sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. About 50 people attended a meeting on the issue tonight — and although it got heated at times, no decision was made.

Responding to some board members’ previous reluctance to change the policy due to religious beliefs, Anderson urged them put their religious feelings about homosexuality aside and focus on students’ safety.

“If you find their lifestyles to be a sin, forget that and think that this is your best friend being harassed for who they are,” he said. “It’s hard for them to handle. And by adding these six words to this policy, you can make a world of difference.”

The issue, which has been debated for months, will be discussed again at Tuesday’s full board meeting and could be voted on at the Sept. 28 meeting. Tonight's meeting at Liberty School was the policy committee.

Trustee Lisa Slawson emphasized to students that district staff will work for their safety, regardless of the official policy.

“These men (superintendent Scot Graden and assistant superintendent Steve Laatsch) and your teacher will do everything in their power to make sure that, when you walk through the halls tomorrow, they will do everything in their power to make you feel safe,” she said.

Bullying, hazing and harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identification and gender expression are outlawed under the district’s bullying policy. Some trustees expressed doubt that the non-discrimination policy needs to be changed because the groups are already protected under that code.

“The root of the problem is bullying, we need to get that under control,” said Trustee Paul Hynak.

Board secretary Chuck Lesch disagreed with changing the policy due to the state’s civil rights code.

“We are an elected body beholding to the state of Michigan, and the state of Michigan hasn’t recognized (gay, gender identification and gender expression) as a class,” he said.

Many students from Saline and other area districts attended the meeting and spoke of their experiences in school.

Katie Slawson, a Saline High School student and the daughter of Trustee Slawson, echoed Anderson’s point of view that religion needs to be taken out of the debate.

“This is not an issue of religion or morality, this is an issue of what’s right and what’s wrong,” she said.

Lisa Slawson said her daughter was bullied for being perceived as gay last school year. She said students who helped organize the movement to approve the policy change are exactly what the district hopes to get from its students.

“You’re all so very brave and you are what this district strives to do, and that is put out great citizens,” she said. “I am so proud of all of you.”

Interest in the issue stretched outside the Saline school district.

Glenn Nelson, secretary of the Ann Arbor school board, told the committee about Ann Arbor’s experience in adding similar language to its non-discrimination policy.

He said he believes it's important for the Saline board to add that language to its policy because it would contribute positively to the county’s reputation, has been beneficial in Ann Arbor and because the students from Saline are so passionate.

“The students know better than we do what goes on in school,” Nelson said. “I think it’s time to trust them.”

Kyle Feldscher covers K-12 education for He can be reached at



Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 7:41 a.m.

This is absurd! For a city that is already known to be "only white", it would be nice to see a bit of diversity in the Saline community. It's 2010, I think there's more to worry about than adding inclusion for the LGBT-Q youth - after all, it's the youth that will be running our communities, country, etc. for the future and do we want to keep running on hate?

Jim Osborn

Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 8:13 a.m.

Changing a discrimination clause is unneeded. What is needed is a strong policy to stop bullying of all students, not just certain children of certain groups, and ignoring others. That in itself is discriminatory. No child should be picked on or bullied because of race, being uncoordinated, orientation, weight, eyesight, speech pattern, family income, or many, many items that children find to tease. Schools can't stop it all, new policy or not, but mild teasing is not bullying, and should not be tolerated at any school.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 12:15 p.m.

I don't have much to add to what Mitch, Urban Sombrero, or Leann said above, except to pose questions to the critics who've chosen to take the time to make objections to amending the SAS non-discrimination language: If some of you really believe that Kevin Anderson's requested language is redundant and already covered adequately elsewhere — and that it won't do any good anyway since the school district has allegedly been very weak on confronting classroom bullying — then how could it matter to you if the Saline school board simply agrees to add this additional wording? How can it possibly be worth your time to write an objection here if the request is as meaningless as you try to claim? The more that objections and complaints about Anderson's proposal appear in this discussion thread, the more these vindicate the relevance and necessity of the language additions.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 9:23 a.m.

The importance of having these groups added to the policy is to provide grounds on possible discipline when students are teased or bullying a student based on sexual orientation. This would show a zero tolerance. It tell the staff that the district does not tolerate discrimination on sexual orientation. I grew up in SE Michigan as one of the only Asian American's in the small village. I was called racial slurs by boys from elementary school until early high school. This prejudice and racism was openly tolerated until I graduated from HS in 1993. Elementary teachers would tell me to ignore them, while my adopted white parents told me that I was not different and to ignore them. Easy for them to say since they never had to experience it. Sexual orientation is like being a different race, you can't help how you are born. It is not like having pimples, bad teeth, or being fat and it is insulting to make that comparison. You can't get braces, Pro-active, or diet as a cure. The fact that religion was even brought up makes me sick. People that use the bible as a justification to support their prejudice is the real sin. It is people that ruin religion because they use it to segregate and judge others who are different.

Andrew Smith

Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 8:23 a.m.

Statistics can be ambiguous - they do not allow us to decide whether homosexual teens are likely to commit suicide because they are homosexual, or because of the way their homosexuality is perceived. Anecdotal evidence suggests that a teen is more likely to be picked on (bullied, harassed, discriminated against) for declining to take ecstasy or smoke marijuana at a party, or for being known as a student who has decided to not to become sexually active, than for engaging in same-sex genital contact. Educational institutions which have lost sight of their missions are susceptible to being hijacked by various political agendas. The purpose of a school, after all, is algebra and grammar, not one's social life. Even if the purpose of school were about one's social life, it is clear that, in this particular case, the students are being exploited as vehicles for a political agenda dealing with cultural issues.


Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 6:31 a.m.

" One young male was gay and got picked on a bit but he took it in stride, most of it was light hearted." Yes, he "took it in stride" cause back then what else could he do? Lets be thankful it's not 1977 anymore. Being one of those kids in Saline, I went to school everyday praying no one would pick on me or call me out. We've come a long way, but when I hear "F-g", even in jest, I look over my shoulder. It's not a question of growing a thick skin, it's one's of safety and freedom from intimidation.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 11:58 p.m.

@BasicBob, Regarding your last post, most excellent. I graduated from Saline High School in 1977. I was in choir my sophmore,junior and senior year. One young male was gay and got picked on a bit but he took it in stride, most of it was light hearted.He also was looked up to because he could sing and dance like Fred Astaire. Several girls got picked on because they could not carry a "tune" and were tone deaf. Several others (male and female), got picked on because they were not very attractive and could not sing well. We did several musicals during the year and the one gay gentleman was a great singer so most everyone looked up to him. The others that were not good singers and were not very attractive got picked on big time. This needs to be about "bullying" pure and simple, not about sexual orientation or anything else. Fat kids, ugly kids, kids with pimples, kids with ADHAD, kids with mental retardation, kids with dyslexia, kids with whatever, need to be protected to a reasonable degree!

Basic Bob

Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 10:49 p.m.

@Mitch, "It's common sense that if you are picked on constantly in school... you are more likely to commit suicide." Common sense and sad stories are not proof. Are we discriminating against kids with acne, bad grades, drug problems, or kids who are abused? These issues make kids more likely to commit suicide than sexual orientation. I just don't see what difference it will make.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 9:37 p.m.

For all of the people worrying about these people being singled out for special treatment, you have to realize that if It weren't for the discrimination and harassment they wouldn't need a special clause. Also students have the right to express themselves in anyway that isn't detrimental to the learning environment. Teachers are allowed to ask students to change clothes if their clothes in anyway are offensive to them. The main thing is there should be an air of acceptance and a learning environment for all students. As a current SHS student I will agree that sometimes teachers will make people keep their religious beliefs to themselves. This isn't an act of hatred towards the religion it is just an attempt to keep arguments from arising. There are also some teachers who on the Day of Silence will speak in a louder voice to spite the students participating. Which is ridiculous because it's a day about ending bullying.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 8:44 p.m.

The root of the problem is bullying, we need to get that under control, said Trustee Paul Hynak. It is the bullies, not the bullied, that need attention. Otherwise the school board would have to include in its non-discrimination policy fat people, buck-toothed kids, acned teenagers, anyone who could be subject to ridicule. The concern with a non-discrimination policy is that it can be used to force people to accept a life-style that they consider inappropriate. At Pioneer several years ago, a Christian student was not allowed to voice her views on homosexuality during a "diversity" event. Elsewhere Christian clubs have been forced to accept members and even leaders who do not support Christian moral tenets. I think the school should promote respect and kindness, not take this legalistic approach that can stifle individual students' rights.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 8:15 p.m.

Guys, it really doesn't matter what that policy says. Kids in high school will make fun of others for any and every reason. It's not like there are no racist comments in high schools now because it's written in the rules. While it's the right thing to do to include this addition, it will not affect any high schooler in any way shape or form.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 8:01 p.m.

It would be really helpful if the language (and proposed changes) to Saline's policy were quoted in this article!, could you please site the specific reference? You mention "these six words".....What are they?! Please fill us in on the actual debate, rather than just the emotions surrouding it.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 7:31 p.m.

Paragraph 8 of article: "Bullying, hazing and harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identification and gender expression are outlawed under the districts bullying policy." These students who say they are being bullied/harassed are already protected by the district, as this excerpt indicates. If they are truly and regularly being bullied or harassed, then their beef should be with a lack of enforcement of policy already on the books. Making more rules will achieve nothing, yet the banal cry for more rules and sacred-cow distinctions mounts. In reality, these students have already been granted more rights than most other students. Their right to "gender expression" is so vague, you could drive a truck between the parameters being afforded for it. What administrator or student wants to be on record opposing ANYTHING a student could claim as "gender expression," even if it is some vulgar homo-sexual saying on a t-shirt that, were it based on heterosexuality, would be suppressed out-of-hand? What if a student were a misogynist? Would he be allowed to run around saying "I hate girls and women" and wearing it on his t-shirt? He's just expressing who he is, isn't he? Yeah, that's right, the shoe never looks as good when it's on the other foot, does it... What's really going on here is that the gay-Lesbian-trans-gender community wants to criminalize any expression of sentiment against their "life-style." They will never rest, and will keep pushing this agenda until saying that homo-sexuality is wrong and destructive will result in the same kind of punishment as calling someone a vile racial epithet. Meanwhile, there are not just students, but teachers, who openly ridicule Christianity every week in Washtenaw County, and they do so with total impunity. Furthermore, Christian students are told to shut up about their religion because of a "wall of separation," nevermind that being a Christian is a big part of who they are, and they should be given just as much right to religious expression as others are given for their "gender expression." The phrase is "freedom OF religion" folks, not "freedom FROM religion."

mike from saline

Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 6:17 p.m.

I'm confused! Is this about discrimination, or is this about bullying. If it's about bullinging, that should cover everyone.... Right? Why do they need to be on a list of groups [or sub-groups], to be protected from bullying? That protection should be extended to everyone.....right?


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 5:51 p.m.

Why has religion even brought up in this article in the first place? A student made a claim that previously religion has influenced board members votes, but I would really like to see proof of that. I really don't think this is a religious issue, but instead one about legal wording. The state government dictates that institutions must not discriminate based on race, sex, age, religion, etc and that is the definition that this school district and almost all schools in the country use. Does that list even begin to cover all of the other things people could be discriminated for? Absolutely not. A better and much more effective place to start would be on the state level to change the wording. There are probably plenty of additions that should be made to these discrimination policies too in addition to sexual orientation. What seems most important to me though is that this school board is interested in addressing bullying and harassment issues. I went to Saline schools and I realize it's a huge problem, as I expect it is at most schools. I hope this community is able to come together so that all students are able to learn in an environment free of harassment and feel comfortable enough with teachers and administrators to report it should it still happen.

Andrew Smith

Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 3:45 p.m.

No student should be bullied or harassed. Therefore, no group should be singled out for special rights: are they saying that it's OK for non-gay students to be "made fun of"? Why not simply a policy which says that every student should be protected? If one group is singled out to be protected from discrimination, then every other group will also want to be specifically listed - and those who belong to no special group are then made to feel that they are not entitled to such protections. I would ask the reader to carefully parse the sentence: "This is not an issue of religion or morality, this is an issue of whats right and whats wrong." Morality is an investigation of what is right and what is wrong. It is wrong to harass anyone. It is wrong to single out any group for special protections. All students should be free from bullying, not only gay students. Civil rights are for all citizens. Human rights are for all humans. What happens to the civil rights of those whose opinions are unpopular? If a school board, or any elected body, decides to start listing groups, and sorting out which ones deserve extra protection, then we're on a slippery slope toward toward deciding who gets civil rights - and who doesn't.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 3:43 p.m.

Karen H - Saline DOES have sexual orientation in its "anti-bullying" policy (see my comment above with excerpts from the Saline Highs School Student Handbook). What the students are trying to get changed is the Saline School Board's Policy Manual discrimination section to include the same or similar language as the harrassment section of the student handbook. Whether or not the rules written in the Student Handbook are fully enforced is another issue, but at the very least the wording is there. Let's not paint Saline as someplace where it's no holds barred when it comes to gay-bashing in the schools.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 3:36 p.m.

As an alumna of Saline Area Schools, I am disappointed by the comments of school board secretary Chuck Lesch and sincerely hope that the board adds sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to its non-discrimination policy.

Fair Housing Center

Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 3:29 p.m.

Please watch this youtube video from "Teaching Tolerance": Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case That Made History.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 3:20 p.m.

Some of the comments here demonstrate how much real discrimination still exists against gay people, and how Saline clearly needs to include sexual orientation into its anti-bullying policy. Maybe someday everyone in our society will be enlightened enough not to dismiss bullying of gay children (or those that are just perceived to be gay) with statements like: "Now the issue is a persons Sexual Habits. if someone shows up in school without clothes are we to allow that because they believe they are nudists." But for now, it's pretty clear that we need rules to tell people what's right and what's wrong. @Mitch - I'm so sorry you were bullied in school. I was "lucky" enough to not know that I was gay when I was a teen or the bullying I endured would have been far worse than it was. My heart goes out to all the kids who still have to endure this in the 21st century.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 2:20 p.m.

They're being picked on because they're gay, the same way the fat kid gets picked on because s/he's fat or the short kid gets picked on because s/he's short, etc. It's bullying, not discrimination in the legal sense. Yeah, it sucks and there's absolutely no reason for it, but I don't think changing the wording of anything will change the actions of others. Especially if there are already anti-bullying policies in place which, as it sounds, aren't enforced to begin with.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 2:19 p.m.

I agree that you cannot legislate behavior changing the wording in a document is not going to stop bullying by students, regardless of what the bullying is based on. However, what the students are asking is that the school board does not live by the do as I say, not as I do mentality. Students have been told they cannot harass students because of sexual orientation or gender identity; from the SHS Student Handbook: Harassment or bullying is any gesture or written, verbal, graphic, or physical act (including electronically transmitted acts (i.e., internet, cell phone, personal digital assistant (pda), or wireless hand held device) that is reasonably perceived as being motivated either by any actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression; or a mental, physical, or sensory disability or impairment; or by any other distinguishing characteristic. From the Saline Board of Education Policy Manual: The District will not discriminate against any person based on sex, race, color, national origin, religion, height, weight, marital status, handicap, age, or disability. No mention is made of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, as it is in the harassment section of the student handbook. To discriminate against someone, you need to hold some power over them; the ability to affect their employment, income, living situation, etc. Students do no really have the power to discriminate against other students. However, the student equivalent of discrimination is harassment. Therefore, the students are merely asking that the School Board adheres to the same standards in their discrimination policy as they themselves have been told to adhere to regarding harassment. It is counter to everything logical regarding the education and rearing of children to ask them to adhere to rules that you, yourself, are not willing to follow. And if you are willing to follow the rules you impose on the students, then you need to be willing to write those same rules into your policy manual. You cannot tell students that they cant harass classmates based on certain criteria when you are not willing to say that you will not discriminate based on those same criteria. Will changing these words ever stop bullying in Saline High School? No. But it will show the students of Saline High School that the board that governs how they are mandated to behave is not hypocritical demagoguery that can talk the talk, but wont walk the walk. Please, Saline School Board, dont tell our students Do as I say, not as I do.

Urban Sombrero

Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 1 p.m.

@Mitch: I think I love you.

Urban Sombrero

Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 11:44 a.m.

@donottaunthappyfunball: "Don't I have a Right to express my opinion with out fear of going to the Principals Office? " If your opinion is calling another person the "n" word or a homosexual slur, then sorry but you really need to go to the Principal's office. Derogatory and hateful comments should not be protected speech.

Martin Church

Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 11:23 a.m.

You say you are opposed to bullying and yet right here in these comments you have bullying. you say there is a seperation of church and state. So me that in the consitiution. it's not there. it was implyed from letters jefferson wrote in connection with dealing with a baptist church who was afraid this new government would take over the church and tell it what to believe. it was also taken from articles jefferson wrote during negotiations with the ottoman turks when that Muslum governement demanded ransom for A US Man of war captured in Libia. Now the issue is a persons Sexual Habits. if someone shows up in school without clothes are we to allow that because they believe they are nudists. We set the community standards based upon the common believe system of the community. thos who support Same Sex attraction Dysfuntion and Gender Identy have been lied to by a small group of people who are rebeling against community standards. they now support descrimination based upon religous values. and the promotion of stopping personal believe systems. The changes of the school policies would continue the bullying of the students, but instead ofcorrecting the problem it is to put the religous minded who believe GOD will hold us accountable for the community actions into the closet. Discrimination still lives.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 10:56 a.m.

At one point during the discussion last evening, Steve Laatsch, the Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services, took a few moments to talk about the active steps the schools are taking to foster a safe, respectful climate. It's clear they understand that policy is not the only way to address issues of discrimination. I am a straight, married adult, with no school age children at present, but I have 4 young grandchildren. I want the opportunity for them to grow up in a community where they can learn to give, receive, and thrive on respect for differences. We need the institutions and adults around them to model and believe in such respect. My hat is off to the Saline students who are working for this change in such a respectful, thoughtful, and principled way.

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball

Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 10:48 a.m.

And what about Free Speech? Don't I have a Right to express my opinion with out fear of going to the Principals Office? Perhaps I have a comment to make - should some "classification" in a school handbook stop me from stating my opinion? The kids need self confidence! Sticks and stones may break my bones but 'words' will never hurt me. Words do hurt - insults hurt - but the message is learn and tough'n up - improve the 'disposition' and confidence of our kids - that is how you abate bullying.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 10:40 a.m.

This story leaves out the fact that gay employees of Saline Public Schools are not protected by the anti-discrimination policy as well. Not only are students at a disadvantage, but staff is as well. Ann Arbor Public Schools protects their gay employees from being fired or not rehired simply because of being gay. This is not necessarily the case in Saline - especially in a very conservative Christian-centric (and hetero-centric) school district like Saline there is a lot of fear among gay employees who must keep their lives secret. If out, they face possible discrimination from fellow teachers, administrators, parents, and community members who disagree with their lives, regardless of their effectiveness as teachers. A Saline employee could legally be fired for being gay. I'm not sure if it has ever happened, but it is legally possible in Michigan as it is in many states. I believe that under the previous superintendent Saline Public Schools had included sexual orientation in their policy, but when the new superintendent came, it was taken out (Can check this out?). I am glad that is reporting on this, because it seems like the school board of Saline would like to quietly pass this policy with as little attention as possible, thereby disregarding a significant and important population that is affected.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 10:25 a.m.

We're wasting time here. Does it really matter what policy this is addressed in? Bottom line is that the bullying policy in place is not being enforced properly. It also doesn't help by referencing some state civil rights code. It makes it look like you're hiding the real reason you're against the switch. Note to board member..don't do that. We need to focus our energy on enforcing the existing anti-bullying policy and to hold those who are not, accountable. We're focusing our attention on the board when it needs to be focused on those in the high school who are handling these complaints.

Urban Sombrero

Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 10:24 a.m.

@theannouncerman007---I have no problem supporting other's thoughts, so long as they're not bigoted and hateful. If you want people to respect your religious rights, then you had better not use your religion to discriminate against others. If your opinions are hateful, then no, I won't support you. I'll actively work against you. Saying gay people should have no rights because your religion says they shouldn't is bigoted, plain and simple. Follow your belief system all you want. Good for you! Just, don't use your beliefs to tell others, who may not believe what you do, how to live their lives.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 10:22 a.m.

Changing language on discrimination will do little if anything. By definition, descrimination is 'treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit'. I would not think that any discrimination in opportunity (to participate in band, athletics, etc.) exists in this or any other school is 'institutionally'. If there was an institutional problem, then yes it would need to be righted. Sounds to me that bullying and harrassment - by other kids - is what is going on. By the way, this was no different in the 70s when I was in school and probaly won't be any different 10 years from now.

Jay Allen

Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 10:16 a.m.

I am going to try and expand upon my thoughts. -So if you are an athlete and you are voted to the school board, are you to abstain from voting on a new athletic item? -So if you are a book lover and you are voted to the school board, are you to abstain from voting on a new library improvement? -So if you are a music lover and you are voted to the school board, are you to abstain from voting on a new round of instruments for band? Obviously this can on and on and on....... We ALL have OUR core beliefs that are important to us. It is what makes us unique and we cannot change "who" we are. Nor should we have to either. And that is the issue here. We have a small percent of students who are being bullied because of what they believe in. It is not up to me, you or anyone else to say they are right or wrong irregardless of how I/we live. But do not ask anyone else to change just because YOU do not agree. Thus, if we all have our own beliefs, than how can anyone ask another person to change just for a personal gain? Yes I fully realize that our Government recognizes the separation of Church and State and a few of the examples I gave are not covered in that. But the POINT is when person "A" is voted into office, the PERSON and everything associated with that person is elected in. Now it is ok not to agree with the elected official but you have to respect them. If you do not like them, then vote them out. If you notice, I have not said anything in regards to the "core" issue and what I/personally think. It is just funny to me that others do not want to change but they expect those around them to change for their beliefs. I hope this helps clarify what I mean.

Jay Allen

Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 9:50 a.m.

kdadnick hit the nail right on the head. This group want to stop the bullying because of their beliefs. They do not want to be discriminated against. Okay.......But when the shoe is on the other foot and they need to discriminate against RELIGION, that makes it ok? People are voted into office based on their beliefs, you know what they stand for. People cannot all of a sudden pick and choose what they want the person to represent or not represent. And if you believe heavily in a religion then good for you. You will vote based on YOUR THOUGHTS & BELIEFS. If your thoughts and beliefs are to live an alternative lifestyle and YOU want ME to support that, then you had BETTER support ME and MY THOUGHTS. This is a two way street. This is a case where a small group (Saline) is being attacked. Why doesn't this group take on the State? Get the STATE to change their policy and then it would be easier for small groups to follow suit. Oh wait, that would create work. Hate them four letter words....... The bullying issue is not going away. If you are naive enough to think that verbage changed to a policy at a school meeting is going to change whether or not a kid is bullied, well I am at a loss of words.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 9:24 a.m.

BasicBob--you're right. I say that each board candidate indicate whether their vote would be influenced by their religious beliefs right from the start. That should be a prerequisite for applying for the position.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 9:17 a.m.

I am going to hurl....again. No wonder I am an atheist. This is beyond stupid. Resign. I don't know whether this change would really help them, they should be protected under any anti-discrimination policy for that matter. Good on you students for standing up to this nonsense. It's probably the children of narrow minded people that are discriminating in the first place. Seems like we just went through another discrimination problem at Slauson last year? I am ashamed that a county with the reputation as being diversified, is still dealing with these type of issues. Really??

Urban Sombrero

Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 8:55 a.m.

@simplyamazed: I'm really sorry to hear that your kid is being bullied. I'm an alumna of SHS----graduated in the early 90's. I was also bullied and it's really sad to see that in, oh almost 20 years, nothing's changed. The problem here isn't with classifications or whatnot. The problem is with an ineffectual and apathetic administration. Saline needs to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 8:54 a.m.

The Saline Board of Ed should be applauded for looking to expand their non-discrimination policy. Outside of Ann Arbor Public Schools, no other local schools have been as proactive in discussing the issue. Are they debating it? Yes. But the process is continuing to move. The terms do appear in my child's Saline High Handbook under the anti-harassment section.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 8:48 a.m.

Chuck Lesch sounds like he is missing the point or placing his own personal beliefs over equal rights. I can only hope that one of these students sues the district and forces them to change. Majority of the elected officials are ignorant to the laws and regulations to education. They are interpreting the laws as they do the bible. They may read a small section of a regulation and make a steadfast interpretation, but they could be wrong. That's funny about regulations, many regulations in education is still very gray due the few lawsuits and focus on interpretation. Many schools still operate as if it is the 1950's, but would be forced to recognize student rights if they went to court. Look at Ann Arbor for example. This district gets sued regularly, which is defining the laws for education better. Unfortunately other districts administrators are not aware of these rulings and continue enforcing outdated policies. You have many white conservative Christians in Saline. They do not want to change from the 1950's. They prefer to live in the world of ignorance and should be forced out with a good lawsuit. When a district tolerates harassment and bullying, they place themselves in a liable situation. There is no place for Christian beliefs in the school place. That is why they have private schools. These students have rights and should force the ignorant adults to recognize them.

simply amazed

Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 8:29 a.m.

Happy Fun Ball - was waiting for someone to get around to that. Saline can't/or won't protect kids from bullying, period. My child had been terrorized for years. Lunch taken. Teased. Pleas to principals and teachers had gone on deaf ears...even when they admitted to knowing what was going on. "Bullying" should encompass all. If we're going to start classifying, they sure as heck better start listing every single reason a kid could be bullied. Without researching statistics, I'm venturing to guess that there are more overweight people in this country than ANY OTHER CLASS. This isn't about religion. It isn't about gay. It isn't about weight or height. It's about school district's inability or unwillingness to exercise their "no bullying" policy. And by the way Saline, "no tolerance" doesn't mean that because two people were involved - the one doing the bullying and the one being bullied - that BOTH should be treated like they were willing participants.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 8:10 a.m.

Well, my religious beliefs dicatate that all people with non-white skin are inferior and should not be protected from institutionalized prejudice. Good thing I'm not a school board member in Saline, eh? How dare they! They have no right to inflict their religious beliefs into their running of the schools. I don't care if they don't like it, too bad! GLBT folks exist and deserve the same protections as a class as every other minority. This stinks, Saline.

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball

Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 7:27 a.m.

Why does bullying have to have "classifications"? Thin people, fat people, ugly people, short people, tall people, - and the list goes on and on - all get bullied. Regulation and classification will not solve this. Classifying people is not Equality.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 6:30 a.m.

An interesting note in the comments is the number of people making derogatory remarks to others based on religious beliefs. Would that, too, be considered discriminatory? Bottom line in my perspective...teach kids to keep derogatory thoughts to themselves. Period. Doesn't matter whether it's based in physical appearance, gender identification, religious preference, etc. If it's a personal attack it's intolerable. Keep your hands to yourself, keep your mouth shut or there will be consequences.

Basic Bob

Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 6:21 a.m.

Mitch, I understand your point. But you have not established the cause and effect relationship between bullying and suicide. I am also skeptical that a policy change will make the school staff act differently with regards to bullying. After all, many kids are bullied for other reasons and nothing is being done. Separation of church and state allows each of us to have spiritual principles that we choose to live by. Including school board members. If you disagree with their decisions, you have a responsibility to elect someone else.

Urban Sombrero

Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 6:09 a.m.

Religion has no place in public schools! Keep your beliefs to yourself. All people should have the right to learn in a safe, secure environment. To say that gay/lesbian kids don't deserve the same protection as the rest of us is just asinine. And to hide behind religion? That's just unconscionable.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 12:40 a.m.

If members of the school board are rejecting this because of their religious beliefs, they need to resign. This is a public school, not a religious school. Saline Area Schools are mired in these kinds of dilemmas; the community is not so pure as it pretends to be. Let this be a game changer so Saline can move into the real world. Heads out of the sand, please.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 11:56 p.m.

You've got to be kidding me, this is even an issue here?? What the hell? This isn't just about LGBT students, this is about ALL the students. Does the Saline Area Schools really think that its good example for kids to think that bullying the openly LGBT kid is ok? Really? The root of the problem is bullying, we need to get that under control... Maybe it's me, but being a member of the community with a 3 year old son who *may* be attending these schools in the future, this does not make me very comfortable about the school system here. Perhaps i am just suffering from naivet, but i feel kind of surprised by this.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 11:30 p.m.

I remember being harrased in high school when I expressed a feeling for sexual desire toward the same sex in a psychology class. I also shared with my classmates a strong physical desire toward my kitty cat at that time as well. I was treated very poorly and almost flunked out of high school my senior year. Thank goodness times have changed.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 9:53 p.m.

I hope I'm just reading too much into this article, but why are religious beliefs driving policies in public schools? Did I just hear Thomas Jefferson turned over.