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An Open Letter to Marion A. Bolden, Superintendent, Newark Public Schools

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Message Constance Lavender
June 25, 2007
Ms. Marion A. Bolden
Newark Public Schools
2 Cedar Street
Newark, NJ 07102
Dear Ms. Bolden:
I was disappointed, disturbed, and shocked by your recent actions in blotting out an innocent photo of two boys kissing from your District's High School Yearbook.
As a Senior Adjunct Professor of History at one of our great State's two-year colleges, and as a NJ Department of Education certified Teacher of Social Studies, as well as a citizen, I find your actions in this matter inexplicable.
After familiarizing myself with the narrative of events that transpired leading to the Yearbook deletion, and after personally viewing the said photo myself, I can not understand what message was intended to be sent. That G/L/B/T students receive unequal treatment in our public schools? That G/L/B/T students are not entitled to the same privileges and protections, as well as the responsibilities, afforded to their heterosexual counterparts?
Over the years I have personally witnessed the unequal administration of educational policies within New Jersey's public schools to the disadvantage, indeed, to the danger, of non-heterosexual students. Your actions in this matter are yet a further affront to the dignity and respect G/L/B/T students are too rarely accorded in the public schools.
Moreover, your actions in this case reflect poorly on the broader New Jersey educational community.
All students deserve equal chances to learn, grow, and flourish in this State's public schools no matter how they are oriented.
It is incumbent upon you at this time to correct this poor decision and to make right what has been spoiled here. To that end I urge you to:
1. make public apology to the offended student
2. make public apology to New Jersey's G/L/B/T Community
3. form a district-wide task force on gender and sexuality diversity and to meet with that task force quarterly
4. take any other appropriate actions and/or suggestions to rectify the wrong committed here and to equitably compensate the aggrieved party
Very truly yours,
Constance Lavender
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Constance Lavender is an HIV-Positive pseudonymous freelance e-journalist from a little isle off the coast of Jersey; New Jersey, that is...

In the Best spirit of Silence Dogood and Benj. Franklin, Ms. Lavender believes that a free (more...)
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