ORLEANS PARISH SCHOOL BOARD FAILS TO PROTECT LGBTQIA STUDENTS
For Immediate Distribution
January 18, 2019
New Orleans — The New Orleans Regional Chapter of Education Leaders of Color (EdLoC) is deeply disappointed and saddened by the Orleans Parish School Board’s decision on January 17, 2019 to elect Leslie Ellison as the Board’s Vice President. EdLoC is a membership organization comprised of educators, school leaders, and policy makers of color who are dedicated to elevating the leadership, voices and influence of people of color in education, and to leading more inclusive efforts to improving education.
We are committed to creating schools that we want for all children in New Orleans, who deserve inclusive school environments where they feel protected and supported. LGBTQIA students of color are among the most bullied and disenfranchised students in our educational system. They deserve the protection of the adults who teach and serve them. We believe that the school board voted against those protections last night.
In the 2016 White House Summit on African American lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) Youth in Washington, DC, they reported that
- Nearly 85% of students reported that they had been verbally harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation, and nearly 64% of students had been verbally harassed because of their gender expression.
- Black LGBT students face high rates of physical harassment: four in ten said they had been physically harassed at school in the last year because of their sexual orientation, and more than one quarter said they had been physically harassed because of their gender expression.
At the January OPSB Board meeting, dozens of young people and educators shared stories of bullying and fear that LGBTQIA students face in our schools every day. They asked the Board for an advocate who will vote for policies that will curb oppression and encourage every student to bring their full selves to their education. Ms. Ellison’s recent documented remarks and refusal to guarantee protection from discrimination and bullying for students identifying as LGBTQIA sends a clear message to the entire New Orleans Community that she does not support inclusive environments for all youth. In voting to elect Leslie Ellison, the Orleans Parish School Board ignored those pleas, and once again, a vulnerable segment of the New Orleans student body finds itself without protection from the board leadership. We invite the OPSB Board to meet with EdLoC and other community advocates concerned about its failure to protect all of our youth. We also call on all individual charter schools and charter management organization boards in Orleans Parish to include LGBTQIA students as a protected group in their anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policies.
Rameisha “Ramie” Johnson
London R. Moore
Kira Orange Jones
Ify Offor Walker
Education Leaders of Color (EdLoC) is a membership organization of 300 leaders of color working to elevate the leadership, voices and influence of people of color in education and to leading more inclusive efforts to improve education. EdLoC aims to advance a third way that breaks through the polarizing divides that have consumed efforts to improve public education and to forge the alliances needed to realize and sustain EdLoC’s vision of providing low-income children of color expansive and substantive opportunities for the highest levels of academic and economic attainment.