Two students have asked the school board to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students in the Keller school district’s nondiscrimination clause of the code of conduct.
“How can homosexual students feel safe when we are not protected?” Casey Akers, a sophomore at Timber Creek High School, asked board members. “How can we receive a proper education when we are constantly checking our backs, and closing our ears to the derogatory names called in the hallways that are burned in our minds?”
Emily Hobart, a Keller High School senior, also spoke in favor of covering LGBT students in the policy.
The request comes after Akers was told last month that she would not be able to publicly invite her girlfriend to prom during the Timber Creek lunch period, setting off a frenzy of protests on social media, including on Twitter with the hashtag # LetCaseyPromposal.
When Akers tried to appeal the decision, Keller school district officials said that public “promposals” were banned because they were disruptive. Akers, however, insisted that her request was denied — after many others were allowed — because of her sexual orientation.
At Thursday’s board meeting, Akers asked trustees to include sexual orientation in the district’s “Assurance of Nondiscrimination” section of the student code of conduct. That section forbids discrimination based on “race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sex, disability, or age.”
Hobart said that she and other students had been bullied because of their sexual orientation — or what others assumed was their orientation.
“I have spent the last 12 years in this system and have been impacted by all this,” Hobart said.
Trustees are not allowed to comment on issues that are not on the posted agenda for board meetings.
Keller school district officials, however, said they would invite Akers and Hobart to participate in a committee that reviews the student handbook. The committee will meet May 8, said Nicole Lyons, communications specialist with the district.
While sexual orientation is not mentioned in the handbook, it is listed on the district website on the anti-bullying/anti-harassment page, which also includes gender identity and expression.
Lyons said in an email that for the last several years, the district has included sexual orientation as a category of harassment that must be reported to central administration and fully investigated.
While the student code of conduct doesn’t currently specify sexual orientation, “it is our practice to protect our LGBT students from discrimination and harassment,” Lyons said.
Sandra Engelland, 817-431-2231