U.S. Secretary of Ed asked to get involved in AR inequality case - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

U.S. Secretary of Ed asked to get involved in AR inequality case

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PRESS RELEASE Washington – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, is asking U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to get involved in a case of anti-gay discrimination in Sheridan, Arkansas. The principal of Sheridan High School recently refused to publish the bio of openly gay student Taylor Ellis in the yearbook – specifically because Taylor was gay.

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HRC was in Sheridan earlier this week and delivered more than 35,000 petitions from equality supporters asking the school to reverse its decision. HRC has reached out to Sheridan school administrators, Arkansas Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell - though so far no action has been taken. Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe says he will not get involved.

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In today's letter to Secretary Duncan, HRC President Chad Griffin notes:

"It's simply unacceptable that, rather than respecting Taylor's peers' choice to recognize and celebrate this young man in the school yearbook, these school officials have sent a clear message that the courage and honesty Taylor has demonstrated are not valued at Sheridan High School.

"Even though this episode is already attracting extensive local and national media attention, we feel there is still time for the school and the state to reverse course and send a powerful message of inclusion.  I have already urged his school, his school district, the Arkansas Department of Education and the Governor of Arkansas to end this censorship.  Sadly, they have yet to take action.  On behalf of Taylor and his family, I urge you to speak out against this discrimination and urge your counterparts in Arkansas to allow Taylor's courageous story to be a part of his yearbook."

The full letter to Secretary Duncan is available here.


Statement from Sheridan School District's Superintendent: Dr. Brenda Haynes:

We must make decisions that lead in the proper direction for all of our students and for our community. We must not make decisions based on demands by any special interest group.
The seven profiles will not be published in the yearbook.

We have reviewed state law, court cases, and our own policies. It is clear that the adults who have the responsibility for the operation of the District have the obligation to make decisions which are consistent with the mission of our school. We have done so.