HSE board member’s comments on sexual orientation met with criticism from parents, students

Courtesy IndyStar

FISHERS, Ind. – Comments made by the vice president of the Hamilton Southeastern school board have sparked some controversy.

At Wednesday night’s board meeting while voting on a revised non-discrimination policy, VP Slyvia Shepler  made comments about sexual orientation and not everyone is happy about it.

Parent Leslie Zeisig says she’s heartbroken by Shepler’s comments about gay and transgender people.

“I was floored and I was surprised those words were coming from someone that we elected,” Zeisig said.

At the board meeting, Shepler said the following: “It’s now becoming more and more acceptable that it’s cool and popular. Why is this condition acceptable now and not in the past?”

“She’s not a student in school and she doesn’t know what happens. I do and my friend Jason does. All the students that say I’m harassed daily,” high school senior Logan Faircloth said.

On Wednesday, the board was considering a revised non-discrimination policy that would list specific groups for protection.

To watch the board meeting click here.

The specific identifiers to the policy would have said the district wouldn’t discriminate in educational or employment activities based on race, sex, disability, age, or religion.

It’s been about 19 years since HSE has made any changes to their anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy.

In a 4 to 3 vote, the board rejected the new changes.

The policy that moved forward instead states “The school corporation will not discriminate in its educational or employment activities on any basis prohibited by applicable federal or state laws.”

“This should be the easiest vote that we make. For me to sit there and for me to hear them discriminate I was like oh my goodness,” high school senior Jason Nguyen said.

Hamilton Southeastern Schools released a statement to CBS4 about the board meeting:

“Our primary responsibility as a school corporation is to educate each of our students. It is our duty to protect them from harassment and to provide them with an environment in which they will succeed. To be clear, we do not tolerate acts of harassment, and we strictly adhere to all pertaining non-discrimination and anti-harassment laws as prescribed in our procedures. Our school board members are considering an update to a current policy that has received strong viewpoints on either side. As they progress toward a resolution, we will continue to build on our efforts to educate our school community about issues of discrimination.”

“There’s a very large group of parents, students, and community members that are coming out and saying this is not okay. We want this language in the policy,” Zeisig said.

The policy isn’t official yet. It has to go through a second reading and the board will vote on it at the next meeting on May 8.

A group of parents and students have started a Facebook group opposing the policy. In two days, there have already been more than 2,000 people join.

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