ACLU of Illinois weighed in with a letter Dec. 19 advising a central Illinois middle-school principal who had declared that talk of sexual orientation in school settings was disruptive that such prohibitions would be in violation of the First Amendment as well as state and federal anti-discrimination laws.
Germantown Hills school principal Kate Williams had mailed a letter to parents saying that students discussing such matters had led to "disruption" during school hours. Williams emphasized that LBGT students had the right to safety, but discussion of sexual orientation would be henceforth prohibited.
Members of Peoria-based LGBT group Peoria Proad said Dec. 14 on Facebook that, "As of now, [Germantown Hills School District #69] Superintendent Dan Mair is failing his students in their social-emotional development and violating their constitutional rights."
In ACLU of Illinois' letter to Williams, Senior Staff Attorney Rebecca Glenberg said, "The predictable effects of such a message are isolation of LGBTQ students, and increased likelihood of bullying by their peers, for which the school may be liable. Additionally, a prohibition on discussions of sexual identity is likely to be disproportionately enforced against LGBTQ students who are sexual and gender minorities, because expressions of cisgender heterosexuality ( e.g., a girl talking about asking a boy to a dance ), are so commonplace that they may not be perceived as expressions of sexual identity at all. Such disparate enforcement may also constitute discrimination under Illinois Human Rights Act and other statutes."
A closed meeting on the issue had been scheduled for the evening of Dec. 19.
Also see: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/ACLU-Schools-must-not-limit-talk-of-sexual-orientation-as-disruptive/65027.html .