News - February 1996

Minneapolis Schools Take Steps Toward Equality for All Students

By Brandon Lacy
Special to Oasis

During my Christmas Break, I had the wonderful chance to see the "Minneapolis Public Schools Principles for Effective Schools and Students Rights and Responsibilities" presented to the Minneapolis School Board.

This document is the first document of Student Rights and Responsibilities to specifically mention and guarentee Gay/Bi/Lesbian/Transgender Youth equal opportunity for education, support, and freedom from discrimination.

The document was put together by Leo Treadway, Director of the "Out 4 Good" program, from the Minneapolis Public Schools. The document was born in its first draft form in the spring of 1995. Soon after myself, and other students representing the Minneapolis CityWide Student Government set about to craft it into a simple, straight forward document, that guarenteed all students the same rights and responsibilities regardless to "gender, race, national origin, ancestry, religion, creed, pregnancy, marital or parental status, public assistance, sexual orientation, physical, menail, emotional, sensory or learning disablitity, or other health impairment except where otherwise prohibited by law."

The Minneapolis CityWide Student Government, an organization representing the 8 Minneapolis Public High Schools, passed and endorsed the document on December 12th.

The Minneapolis Public Schools, under the direction of Superintendent Peter Hutchinson, accepted the document under consideration of passing it into policy. The deadline is May 31, 1996. If this document is passed it will spell a revolution in the educational system. It will be students standing up for other students and demanding a right to equal education and opportunity. The document does not outline special rights, it outlines basic rights.

The document will also be reviewed for endorsement by District 202, the GBLT Youth Center in Minneapolis, the first in the Midwest. The document will also be brought before the Minnesota Association of Student Councils State Convention in April.

The youth of Minneapolis need the support of the queer community across the country. The Minneapolis Public Schools need to know that this issue is not localized, or centralized to Minneapolis. This document is the first step in universal equality, and it comes in a timely fashion with Hawaii's decision over marriage, and the Supreme Court's consideration of Amendment 2. What makes it powerful is that it is a constituency of straight students defending their queer classmates.

If you would like a copy of the Student Bill of Rights please contact the Minneapolis CityWide Student Government, 807 NE Broadway St., Minneapolis, Mn 55418. Also letters to the board of education stating your support for the document should be sent to the following address; Superintendent Peter Hutchinson, Minneapolis Public Schools, 807 NE Broadway St., Minneapolis, MN 55418.

Brandon Lacy, 18, is a freshman at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, N.C. He is double majoring in Political Science and Political Sociology. Brandon is a native of Minneapolis, Mn, where he does volunteer work for the Mpls. Public Schools Out 4 Good program. He is also the secretary of Warren Wilson Colleges GBLT Alliance. Brandon may be reached online at wlacy@warren-wilson.edu.
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