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  WINDY CITY TIMES

CPS' counseling director under fire for alleged LGBT insensitivity
by Stephen Sonneveld
2013-02-06

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UPDATE

A representative from the CPS Office of Communications has told WCT that this "allegation from a former colleague" of Barbara Kapouzian is "something that CPS is looking into."

A former colleague of Barbara Karpouzian, the current director of K-12 Counseling and Advising at Chicago Public Schools, is alleging that the educator made offensive remarks regarding religion in the presence of students, as well as homophobic statements to her peers.

Phillip Elkins, a Spanish teacher at Albert G. Lane Technical College Preparatory High School, included Windy City Times in an email sent to CPS CEO Dr. Barbara Byrd-Bennett. The email detailed the allegations.

According to the email, when Karpouzian was also a Spanish teacher at Lane Tech, she "told two students, 'Catholics will not go to heaven.'" Elkins claims that when he excused the students to the hall, Karpouzian told him "never to speak to her 'in that manner' and 'contradict' her in front of anyone again."

The email also asserted: "Rosie O'Donnell was in the news for having married her partner, and Barb began telling colleagues that gay people were going to hell. After I mentioned we should stay neutral, she wrote me a letter inviting me to her house to watch a video on how to become heterosexual."

Elkins wrote that the "unprofessional and inappropriate comments" still distress him. Moreover, "Gay CPS teachers, counselors, and students deserve to hear that Barb is not only being neutral at her job, but she is encouraging LGBTQ themes."

As to the allegation of Karpouzian encouraging conversion therapy, Elkins asked, "Is she on board 100% with The American Psychology Association, The American Psychiatric Association, and The American Pediatric Association who have said that trying to change someone's sexual orientation is harmful?"

A message left on Karpouzian's voice mail this morning was not returned, and WCT has reached out to Elkins to support his claims.

Karpouzian's anti-Catholic rhetoric is curious, as her Linkedin profile indicates she holds an MA from two Catholic institutions, Loyola University of Chicago and Saint Xavier University.

What can be verified is that Karpouzian, who earns an annual salary from CPS reported to be between $99,750.00-100,985.00, has been the host of a cable access talk show, Everlasting Love, for the past ten years. The show's YouTube channel, and also the YT channel for the show's producer, currently publish broadcasts which depict Karpouzian interviewing doctors, athletes and authors about the positive impact of Christianity in their lives, and their efforts at ministry.

However, there is also a 3-part broadcast which debunks Darwin and evolution, and two series of interviews that call the Koran "lies."

In part 3 of "From Islam to Christianity," guest Erol Senses, who was raised Muslim before converting, had the following exchange with Karpouzian:

BARBARA KARPOUZIAN: So do we worship the same god?

EROL SENSES: Absolutely not.

BK: Okay.

ES: Absolutely not.

BK: How do you, how do you answer that question, or how do you deal with that, or how did you deal with that, with your parents?

ES: At that time, I was gentle with them, and even though I did not acknowledge it, in a loving way, I took baby steps—

BK: Sure.

ES: —towards it—

BK: Sure.

ES: —and rather than assaulting the beliefs—

BK: Mm hm, sure.

ES: —by history or knowledge of the Koran, I'd rather just reveal Jesus to them in their love—

BK: Yes.

ES: —we continued down this path.

BK: Yes, mm hm.

ES: If I were to bring up the Koran, and the lies that are contained in it, and the false god that it portrays, immediately, any opportunity for me to minister to them—

BK: Yes.

ES: —would have been closed.

BK: Right.

Karpouzian signed off from the final "Creationism vs. Evolution" episode with, "God loves you with an everlasting love. He created you, He formed you while you were in your mother's womb, and He has a plan for your life. God bless you."

It remains to be seen whether CPS will consider such broadcasts as free speech protected under the First Amendment, or as a conflict of interest for the city's top school counselor, a servant in the public sector, to openly declare a bias against religious groups and the very science the schools are teaching.

If Elkins' allegations are to be believed, it would appear Karpouzian's unsubstantiated homophobic comment "that gay people were going to hell" is also intertwined with her religious perspective. Upon review of the Everlasting Love episodes available on YT, however, none of the titles directly address LGBT issues, and the select episodes viewed did not uncover any homophobic comments, religious-based or otherwise.

Though Dr. Byrd-Bennett was unavailable for comment, the CPS communications office promised WCT a response about the broadcasts and Elkins' email.

WCT will provide updates as this story unfolds.


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