Post submitted by Hubert Tate, former HRC Press Secretary, Project One America
This morning, HRC Mississippi State Director Rob Hill made a heartfelt plea to the Rankin County School Superintendent and Board of Education, which aimed to provide stakeholders with personal testimony on why supporting LGBT students is critical to the health of the students and the district’s success. Hill's remarks are in response to a new policy, passed last month, aimed to prevent students from forming LGBT peer support groups. According to the Clarion Ledger, Superintendent Lynn Weathersby stated some students wanted to form a “gay club” and sought counsel on how to “limit organizations like that on campus that [it does not] want to endorse and don’t want.”
“I wanted to communicate with our Rankin school leaders that every student –including LGBT young people--should have the opportunity to achieve academic success, free from bullying, harassment and teasing,” said Hill. “We need to send a strong reminder to our students that they are loved and accepted, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.”
According to a recent HRC survey of LGBT Mississippians, almost half of respondents have experienced harassment at school; the most at the high school level (42%). Even more upsetting, a third of LGBT students in rural areas have experienced harassment at school on a weekly basis. Respondents reported supporting LGBT youth in their schools and communities is a top priority to advance equality in the Magnolia State.
HRC Mississippi is working to advance equality for LGBT Mississippians who have no state or municipal level protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations; legal state recognition for their relationships and families; state rights to jointly adopt children; and state protections from hate crimes. Through HRC Mississippi, we are working toward a future of fairness every day—changing hearts, minds and laws toward achieving full equality.