Oklahoma City school board passes protection for gay students

Attributing its decision to the recently passed federal hate crimes law, the Oklahoma City school district amended its policies to protect GLBT students from bullying and harassment:

“Tammy Carter, general counsel for the Oklahoma City School District, said the change in policy was necessitated by the federal Matthew Shepard Act, a law passed in October that added both sexual orientation and gender identity to a list of protected classes under the hate-crime law. ‘Courts have begun to hold school districts that fail to protect students from discrimination … liable for violating constitutional rights,’ Carter said. The board waived its rules Monday to hear the proposed change to the harassment and bullying policy without the required 30 days of advertisement.”

And one board member acknowledged that Oklahoma isn’t the most friendly place for gays.

Said board member Phil Horning: “This is an opportunity for us to get a little bit ahead of the curve, not very far I’ll admit. You cannot live in central Oklahoma and not admit that there is a tendency to discriminate against gay and lesbian individuals. You’d have to have your head in the sand not to admit it … I’ll die before I vote no.”