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Monday, June 25, 2007

Garden State Equality Breaking News - Andre Jackson

A message from Garden State Equality Moments Ago.




"Garden State Equality members, in just the last 48 hours, nearly 2,000 of you have emailed the Newark schools superintendent to express your outrage at the school district's taking magic markers to cover up a yearbook photo of graduating senior Andre Jackson kissing his boyfriend.

We have been in touch with Andre throughout the weekend, and moments ago this Monday morning.

Andre has asked us to convey his deepest thanks to each and every one of you. He told us that the support of the LGBTI community and our allies, which he read about in the weekend papers, means more to him than anything.

In our all years of activism, rarely have we met a young person as brave as Andre. This morning, he told us that he stands with Garden State Equality 100 percent in what we're asking the school district: Namely that Newark Schools Superintendent Marion Bolden must apologize.

Andre, like the rest of us, read in this weekend's papers that that Superintendent Bolden would be willing to apologize to him if they were to meet. This morning, he told us that he will insist her apology to him be public, just like the school district's hurtful action -- defacing the photo of him and his boyfriend and distributing it to hundreds of students -- was public.

Andre also wants the Superintendent to apologize to the LGBTI community.

He suggests that if the school district won't reprint and redistribute the yearbooks because of the expense, it should copy the page with the photo and make it available for free. We told Andre that if the school district balks at even this expense, Garden State Equality would pick up the tab to copy the page.

Finally, Andre came up with the best idea: He wants to team up with Garden State Equality and Newark LGBTI community leaders to form a committee on LGBTI diversity and sensitivity in the Newark schools -- and he wants the Superindendent to meet with this committee four times a year.

If you have not yet emailed Garden State Equality's pre-written letter to Superintendent Bolden, click on http://eqfed.org/campaign/YearbookPhoto. It will take only 30 seconds of your time.

Garden State Equality strongly believes that the school district's excising the photo from the yearbook is not only homophobic, but also illegal.

(a) New Jersey bars discrimination based on sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression;

(b) New Jersey's courts have ruled that schools hold the same responsibility not to discriminate and harrass that employers do;

(c) In New Jersey, same-sex relationships are not only legal, but they also qualify for government benefits when a couple enters a civil union.

Thanks from all of us at Garden State Equality. We appreciate all you do -- and most of all, so does Andre Jackson."

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