By Sam Groves | Opinion Editor
Pearce’s Gay-Straight Alliance is petitioning the RISD to change its policy on nondiscrimination. By writing letters and meeting with administrators, students hope to get sexual orientation included in the list of factors upon which the district may not discriminate.
The problem lies on page three of the RISD Student/Parent Guidebook and Student Code of Conduct. Under the heading “Equal Opportunity and Nondiscrimination,” the guidebook professes that “Richardson Independent School District maintains a strict policy of equal opportunity and nondiscrimination in all programs and services.” But students disagree.
“RISD’s discrimination policy protects people from many areas of discrimination,” GSA member Lily Rosser said, “but they don’t protect from discrimination by sexual and romantic orientation or gender identity.”
Although the policy lists race, color, sex, religion, national origin, citizenship, age and physical or mental disability as factors upon which the district may not discriminate, sexual orientation remains absent. The Gay-Straight Alliance wants to change this. “We don’t want ourselves or our friends being discriminated against because of who we are,” Lily said.
Members of the group say everyone should be concerned.
“Non-LGBT students and teachers should want this changed because it would limit the bullying that goes on in their environment,” GSA board member Sydney Martin said. “Many people don’t notice what really goes on in their school, but LGBT bullying does occur, and changing the discrimination policy could help prevent it.”
The Pearce GSA has been working to change the policy.
“The GSA plans to change the policy by talking to the school board about it,” Sydney said.
Group members have also been writing to administrators.
“We’re writing letters to the RISD school board in hopes to get this changed,” Lily said, “because as of right now, they can’t punish someone for discrimination of LGBT+ people.”
Success seems possible for all involved.
“I have high expectations for the success of this project,” Sydney said. “If we succeed in changing the policy, not only will the policy be changed, but we will also be able to open people’s eyes and show them that LGBT bullying does actually happen.”