Corner: Not Serving the Community Well


One has to assume most members of the School District 56 board think there are no students, teachers or staff in the district whose sexual orientation would not be approved by the Baptists.

I assure them they are wrong.

How else can you explain – or even make sense of – the 6-1 vote not to approve adding “sexual orientation” to the list of discriminations the district will not tolerate?

(Dr. Patsy Sadler voted yes. Chairman Jim Barton, Keith Richardson, Tammy Stewart, Edna McGee, Jan Simmons and Kim Williams-Carter voted no.)

Student policies, approved by the board, don’t allow bullying or harassment in any form. But the board was afraid to touch the discrimination list, which includes, of course, race and gender.

There wasn’t much discussion at the Jan. 28 board meeting before the board voted 6-1. A previous vote to include “sexual orientation” had passed 4-3, but three of the yeses (Edna McGee, Jan Simmons and Kim Williams-Carter) got skittish and changed their votes.

A lawyer was on hand to answer questions from the board. There were none. At least in open session. 

Is this a fear going back to the controversy in North Carolina about transgender boys wanting to use the girls bathroom? 

My reading is Sadler’s proposal was about sexual orientation and not gender identity.

At the Jan. 28 meeting, Chairman Barton said, “The logistics are not there to add the verbiage.” I have no idea what that means, but I’m sure the board could have made the policy change if it wanted to.

“Students are at risk for suicide,” Sadler said at the Jan. 28 meeting.

They most certainly are prime candidates for bullying, which is often the precursor to suicide in young people.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death - following motor vehicle accidents - among teenagers and young adults. Gay and lesbian adolescents are more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual students.

Research indicates the passage of laws that discriminate against LGBT people has significant negative impact on the physical and mental health and well-being of LGBT youth. Depression and drug use among LGBT people have been shown to increase significantly after the passage of discriminatory laws.

Conversely, the passage of laws that recognize LGBT people as equal with regard to civil rights have been shown to have significant positive impacts on the physical and mental health and well-being of LGBT youth.

The board had a chance to make a positive contribution to a population of students, teachers and staff.

Suicide warning signs include: Thinking or talking about or threatening suicide; seeking a way to kill oneself; increased substance abuse; feelings of purposelessness, anxiety, being trapped, or hopeless; withdrawing from people and activities; and expressing unusual anger, recklessness, or mood changes.

On the night board members were recognized as part of the annual School Board Appreciation Month celebration, six of the board members did not serve this community well.


Larry Franklin is retired and lives in Clinton. The views expressed here are his and do not necessarily reflect those of The Chronicle. Franklin can be reached at



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