Fighting Prejudice and Discrimination: One State Leader
written by Gail Riecken, City-County Observer Statehouse Editor
State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Jennifer McCormick held a press event recently to talk about her plans for 2019. She made surprising announcements, one which made the headlines.
Noting the trauma LGBTQ students can face in school, including being rejected by a school, McCormick said she cares for her students and wants to help them. She announced this regarding school voucher awards ( theStatehousefile, Oct 2):
“This is one that we feel is very important,” McCormick said. “We don’t think any school that takes public dollars should be excluding any of our kids.”
What a groundbreaking statement from her in her position; I am disappointed she isn’t running again. Her elected position’s support for LGBTQ students could help improve the school environment for LGBTQ students throughout Indiana, even when there is no prejudice against LGBTQ students attending a certain school, which brings up EVSC.
I don’t know what the circumstances are in our EVSC school environment, but Wally Paynter does. He gave an impassioned speech at an NAACP press event this August.
Paynter said he had been repeatedly denied an audience with the EVSC Superintendent to discuss LGBTQ issues. He praised school principals, who were trying to support LGBTQ students, and as he said wanted support from their Superintendent.
Although Paynter’s plea was a small part of the NAACP press event, as with McCormick’s announcement about LGBTQ students in her 2019 plans, the topic of discrimination and prejudice reminded me of where our country was when the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968. There was a great deal of unrest in our country at that time.
Although we are certainly not at the place we were in the sixties, we should have learned something about the extreme cost to society of discrimination and denial of cultural problems by our leadership when we don’t do something positive to address them.
You know I am including the country’s divisiveness over the present Supreme Court appointment. At least President Lyndon B. Johnson had the right attitude back then. He addressed discrimination and prejudice positively with the Fair Housing Act. Today, we have a President spitting out derogatory remarks about women who report sexual assault.
This year is the 50th Anniversary of that landmark legislation, the Fair Housing Act of 1968. We have come a long way in the fight for equality and fairness, but we still aren’t there for everyone.
Whether it is LGBTQ rights or respecting women, let’s pray we have leadership in Indiana and in the White House that understands the importance of addressing positively those issue of prejudice and discrimination.