I hope the Bessemer Board of Education realizes I'm serious.
I went by there yesterday, wearing my purple "Port St. Joe" t-shirt, to follow up on the letter I sent last week, and to get a copy of the Bessemer bullying policy.
I was unable to meet with the person I had sent the letter to, and was told he would give me a call, but I haven't heard anything. I'll go back today, and every day, until I get to speak to someone, and until we see a change in the policy.
Update: I went back this morning and was still unable to anyone. I was, however, told that I needed to speak with Mr. Foster, the superintendent. He is who I mailed the letter to, so he knows why I am trying to contact him. In fact, in the letter, I told him I would.
Why am I pursuing this? Because the Bessemer policy has not been updated since 2008. The Student Harassment Prevention Act was passed in 2009, and required the policy to be updated by July 2010.
The Board knows this. I mean, even if they didn't get word from the State Department of Education, surely they had seen my column in the Western Tribune (you know, that weekly newspaper that used to be), where I mentioned it in a story about gay kids getting a break.
The model policy developed by the state lists the following personal characteristics regarding harassment: race, sex, religion, national origin and disability.
Bessemer does not even do this. There is no list.
The law states "Based upon experience, a local board of education may add, but not remove, characteristics from the list. The additional characteristics or perceived characteristics that cause harassment shall be identified by the local board on a case-by-case basis and added to the local board policy. The list shall be included in the code of conduct policy of each local board."
And from Fort Worth
You've seen the video of Fort Worth council person Joel Burns delivering his emotional message at the city council meeting.
Joel and his husband, political consultant J. D. Angle, were on the Lawrence O'Donnell show yesterday.
If you haven't heard the part of Burns' speech that describes him popping the question it's included in this video. Nice.
If you haven't seen the entire 12 minutes of Joel's speech, watch this. Watching the full 12 minutes is much different than watching the 30 seconds or so that we've seen on the news. You can use a few minutes of your time to watch this. Heck, you're surfing the internet anyway. Slow down and watch.
I'm just wondering if we live in a community where elected officials would feel comfortable speaking out like this. Will the leaders in Bessemer, the new council and the new school board, step up to the plate and move this city forward, helping to make it into a city, and a school system, that values all of its citizens and students and provides a safe environment for learning?
Time will tell.