Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Memphis City Schools Responds to ACLU Complaint

Memphis City School attorneys issued a statement late yesterday:

Memphis City Schools is committed to providing its students with the best possible learning environment. Hollis F. Price Middle College is an accelerated high school, which is located on the historically black LeMoyne-Owen College campus. Eligible students may enroll in college classes in pursuit of completing the first two years of college while attending this high school.

Because we have high school students on a college campus, we have to carefully monitor the activities of our students. We are at all timesproactive in assuring that our students are provided a safe, nurturing and disciplined learning climate. Unfortunately, in fall 2007, we received numerous complaints from LeMoyne-Owen College faculty and staff that some of our student couples were involved in explicit sexual behavior in public view on the college campus.

In light of this information from LeMoyne-Owen faculty and staff, the principal of Hollis F. Price made several general announcements to the student body that this behavior would not be tolerated. Regrettably, the improper behavior continued. Therefore, the principal felt it appropriate to notify the parents of those children she knew to be involved romantically. This was done in an effort to gain the support of the parents in reinforcing the message that such behavior is in violation of Memphis City Schools’ Student Code of Conduct. The principal did not list any information other than students’ names on her personal call list, and she certainly did not specify the sexual orientation of any student. Additionally, the list was never posted publicly anywhere at the school.

It is the position of Memphis City Schools that the principal did act in an appropriate manner in order to correct a serious issue at the school and that Memphis City Schools has not subjected either of these students todiscriminatory treatment.

In the coming days, we will submit a formal response to the ACLU. We look forward to working with them to amicably resolve this matter.

The above statement is full of slippery subtleties. Note that MCS mentions that "some of our student couples" were engaged in "sexually explicit behavior". They imply that Nick and Andrew are guilty of such behavior. They go on to say that "the principal felt it appropriate to notify the parents of those children she knew to be involved romantically." How is it appropriate to invade the privacy of couples known to be "romatically involved" who are not engaging in "sexually explicit behavior"? Romantic involvement does not make one guilty of sexually explicit behavior.

With this new statement, MCS is now engaging in character assasination of Nick and Andrew. They are also trying to take advantage of the public's homophobia by equating romantic attachment between two young men with illegal activity. Shameful.

Eyewitness News in Memphis has more details.

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