U.S. Secretary of Ed asked to get involved in AR inequality case

PRESSRELEASE Washington - The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), thenation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rightsorganization, is asking U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to get involvedin a case of anti-gay discrimination in Sheridan, Arkansas. The principal ofSheridan High School recently refused to publish the bio of openly gay studentTaylor Ellis in the yearbook - specifically because Taylor was gay.

KATV: Openly gay studentsays school won't publish his yearbook bio

HRC was in Sheridan earlier this week and deliveredmore than 35,000 petitions from equality supporters asking the school toreverse its decision. HRC has reached out to Sheridan school administrators,Arkansas Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell -though so far no action has been taken. Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe says he will not get involved.

KATV: Civil rights groupurging Sheridan Schools to reverse gay profile decision

In today's letter to Secretary Duncan, HRC President Chad Griffin notes:

"It's simply unacceptable that, rather than respecting Taylor's peers'choice to recognize and celebrate this young man in the school yearbook, theseschool officials have sent a clear message that the courage and honesty Taylorhas demonstrated are not valued at Sheridan High School.

"Even though this episode is already attracting extensive local and nationalmedia attention, we feel there is still time for the school and the state toreverse course and send a powerful message of inclusion.{} I have alreadyurged his school, his school district, the Arkansas Department of Education andthe Governor of Arkansas to end this censorship.{} Sadly, they have yet totake action.{} On behalf of Taylor and his family, I urge you to speak outagainst this discrimination and urge your counterparts in Arkansas to allowTaylor's courageous story to be a part of his yearbook."

The fullletter to Secretary Duncan is available here.


Statement from Sheridan School District's Superintendent: Dr. Brenda Haynes:

We must make decisions that lead in the proper direction for all of our students and for our community. We must not make decisions based on demands by any special interest group.The seven profiles will not be published in the yearbook.We have reviewed state law, court cases, and our own policies. It is clear that the adults who have the responsibility for the operation of the District have the obligation to make decisions which are consistent with the mission of our school. We have done so.