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Public response to
board's decision to allow
sexual orientation language in school policy


At the August 18, 2008 board meeting, Debbie Bernauer and Thomas Taylor gave reasons for including sexual orientation language in school policy.  Renee Engelhart (the Watchdog) and her attorney, Deborah Carothers are the two people who gave reasons for not including sexual orientation language in school policy.

Below, you will find the transcripts of each person's comments.

Debbie Bernauer
, a Chippewa Elementary School teacher and former president of our teachers' union, the Brecksville Education Association (BEA), voiced her support of the Board's decision to include sexual orientation language in school policy.  go

Thomas Taylor--retired pastor
Mr. Thomas voiced his "strong support" for including "sexual orientation" language in school policy.  go

Renee Engelhart--school board watchdog

In my letter, I expressed my view that acceptance of homosexual behavior should not be promoted by the school. In response, I received a letter from a Brecksville resident.

*(I read excerpts of the letter which I will paraphrase in this paragraph.)  In the letter, I was called, among other things, self-aggrandizing, judgmental, unconscionable, intolerant, un-Christian. and bigoted.  I was characterized as someone who wanted our schools to practice "government sanctioned discrimination on children," and that I wanted our school environment to be one of "bigotry and intolerance."

This letter is a perfect example as to why "sexual orientation" should not be included in school policy.

After reading this scathing letter, it almost brought me to tears because it was so filled with hate and condemnation directed toward me. And here I am a 46-year old adult, armed with years of learning from life's experiences. I should be able to handle such an attack. But, can you imagine how such a hateful response would affect an impressionable young child who expresses the view that homosexual behavior is not acceptable?

That is precisely why a classification of "sexual orientation" should not be included in school policy. It only emboldens those who want to impose their unconventional values by using name-calling, hate, and condemnation toward those who want to uphold long-established traditional values.

If "sexual orientation" is not included in school policies, any school children who are unfairly treated because of a so-called sexual orientation are still protected by a policy that simply says "all schoolchildren should be treated fairly." There is no need to single out sexual orientation as a classification.

Deborah Carothers--attorney for

I'm a graduate of Brecksville High School, and I'm also attorney for Renee Engelhart and

I think, regardless of where somebody stands on this issue of whether promoting acceptance of homosexuality is good or bad for a school to do, it doesnít change Mrs. Engelhartís position that before an unconventional value is placed in a school policy, it should first be done with public deliberation, and getting feedback from the community so that any values that are promoted in the schools are done so with community feedback.

And here, Mrs. Engelhart is saying that this is something that just appeared in a school policy without any public deliberations beforehand. And if thatís the case, it really doesnít matter which side of the issue youíre on. Just at least get input from the community first before you implement the policy, and that is Mrs. Engelhartís position.

One of the things thatís done when you start classifying certain groups of people, there is a certain value judgment thatís being communicated by  giving a status to those who have a certain sexual orientation, singles them out from other people.  And, itís just like you wouldnít have a status for students who have a proclivity for promiscuity--why should they be given an elevated status, even though you donít want those students unfairly treated, either.

A policy that just says, ďtreat all students fairly,Ē should be good enough, unless the community does tell you that there truly is a standard of accepting the promotion of homosexuality in the schools.

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