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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

PUBLIC APOLOGY ISSUED TO ANDRE JACKSON







Photo: Timothy Ivy/NYTIMES

BREAKING NEWS: Newark Schools Superintendent Marion Bolden today attended the final graduation rehearsal at East Side High School in Newark and publicly apologized to graduating senior Andre Jackson in front of the entire graduating class of hundreds of seniors.

"And in a phone call we had with Superintendent Bolden moments ago, she agreed to meet on a regular basis, at least four times a year, with a Task Force on LGBTI Diversity and Sensitivity in the Newark Schools that Garden State Equality is forming with leaders of Newark's LGBTI community. In the call, Bolden called this yearbook episode "my lowest moment since I've been Superintendent."

Yesterday, as you'll recall, Superintendent Bolden had issued a written statement of apology to Jackson, which he and Garden State Equality deemed insufficient, for crossing out a photo of him and his boyfriend kissing in the school yearbook. Today Superintendent Bolden did the right thing.

More about our phone conversation today with with Superintendent Bolden: She called us. She was humble and remorseful in the conversation. When we asked her to meet on a regular basis, at least four times a year, with a Task Force on LGBTI Diversity and Sensitivity in Newark Schools that Garden State Equality is forming with leaders of Newark's LGBTI community, she immediately agreed.

In the call, Ms. Bolden called this episode "my lowest moment since I've been Superintendent." She unequivocally said that allowing the photo of Andre and his boyfriend to be crossed out was homophobic on her part. She volunteered the word "homophobic." She apologized for being insensitive to the LGBTI community and asked Garden State Equality to extend that apology to the entire community.

The conclusion of this very unfortunate episode of anti-LGBTI discrimination is that Superintendent Bolden and the Newark School District have agreed to every Garden State Equality request.

1. The Superintendent has now apologized to Andre Jackson publicly.

2. The District is redistributing yearbooks, with the photo of Andre and his boyfriend not redacted, free of charge.

3. The Superintendent will personally meet on a regular basis, at least four times a year, with the Task Force on LGBTI Diversity and Sensitivity in Newark Schools that Garden State Equality is forming with leaders of Newark's LGBTI community.

We at Garden State Equality now believe something good may emerge from this tragic instance of homophobia: A Newark school system respectful of every student regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and every other factor that makes Newark and all New Jersey a gorgeous mosaic of diversity.

Most of all, Garden State Equality thanks the more than 3,000 people from across the state and nation who wrote letters of protest to Superintendent Bolden since last Friday night. This victory for justice is yours -- God bless you all."

Steven Goldstein, Chair
Garden State Equality
from a membership e-mail blast.


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