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.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Cheatham County Board of Ed buries head in sand when it comes to bullying

The Cheatham County Board of Education ignored the group of citizens that TEP has been assisting for as long as they could.  These citizens are advocating proposals to bring more accountability and inclusiveness to their school district.  Matters came to a head yesterday.

Here's how it went down:

1.  The Director of Schools admitted that the citizens had followed the correct procedures outlined in Board policy in order to get an item on the agenda, but that they didn't have to put it on there if they didn't want to, according the Tennessean.  So basically the board chair (an elected person) and the director of schools (an unelected person) get to decide what is on the agenda every month.  In other words, the procedure outlined in board policy means nothing. 

2.  So the citizens went to the Board meeting, filled out green pieces of paper to get on the list to speak during the public forum.  And so they did.  You may need to turn up the volume in order to hear these speeches:

-First was Kaelynn Malugin from Ashland City, who was advocating adding "gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation to the district's anti-bullying/anti-discrimination policy:

-Second was Jeremy Rogers from Ashland City who talked about the importance of measuring the effectiveness of the existing anti-bullying policy.  Jeremy talked about his experience as a student who was bullied for being gay and he called on the Board to issue a monthly report on incidents:

Third was Mary Ann Bernicky of Pegram, who called for more information about how teachers have been trained in anti-bullying measures:

3.  After the citizens had spoken, Cheatham County Board of Education attorney Larry Woods got up and defended the existing policy as being in compliance.  TEP responded that compliance means they're doing just enough to get by and that if they thought the policy already covered gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students, then they shouldn't be afraid to put it in writing.

WSMV has the video on those opposing takes on the policy here.

TEP will continue to work with citizens of Cheatham County to advance safe schools proposals.  Those efforts may include involvement in this year's School Board elections.  Three seats are up this August! 



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