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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Teachers Want Anti-Gay Organization Removed From Lake Washington High School

Anti-gay extremist preacher, Ken Hutcherson, and Lake Washington High School are back in the news. The school was drawn into the Hutcherson/Microsoft controversy when it became known that Hutcherson's 3,500-member anti-gay congregation uses the school's facitilites for their gatherings. (The earlier MailToBlog item about this is here.)

The Lake Washington Education Association wants the school district to eject the group. Teachers at Lake Washington High School hesitate to speak out because the school's principal, Mark Robertson, is a member of the anti-gay organization.

The 6/7/2005 Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports,

"... the Lake Washington Education Association "leadership says
Hutcherson's presence at Lake Washington High implies that his beliefs are
condoned by the district, goes against the district's human dignity policy,
brings unwanted attention to the school and promotes intolerance."
"The Lake Washington Education Association strongly condemns the
bigoted views of Dr. Ken Hutcherson," union President Kevin Teeley wrote in the
organization's recent newsletter."

Although the district advertises a human dignity policy, it has taken no steps to see that it is used to qualify which groups may or may not use their facilities. At best this is administrative oversight. At worst it is pure hypocrisy.

The district is now claiming that free speech rights override their policy.

A district spokesman said,

"It comes down to almost an all-or-nothing situation, based on
First Amendment jurisprudence, If we rent a facility for the use of a church, we
can't typically restrict access to another group with which we have
disagreements (over) the point of view they're expressing."
Gosh, how on earth does that policy restrict anyone's freedom of speech? Enforcement of the school district policy wouldn't prevent the anti-gay preacher from preaching hate and promoting discrimination. It would simply tell him he'd have to do so elsewhere.

But the organization's anti-gay activities go beyond preaching hate and discrimination.

"Former Lake Washington High librarian Lee Bates, now at Inglewood Junior High, addressed the school board last night, upset at the treatment of a group of gay rights supporters who visited Antioch.

The activists were told they would have to sit in a separate section unless they removed their
rainbow armbands. The visitors eventually chose to remove their armbands and sat wherever they wanted.

"It is not about the pastor's beliefs but his treatment of people that is in question," said Bates, husband of former Lake Washington Superintendent Karen Bates."

He cited the district's human dignity and harassment policies, which encourage respect and non-harassment of people, regardless of their sexual orientation, among other differences or
characteristics.

Click here to write a letter of support to Kevin Teely and the Lake Washington Education Association with copies to the school district and school administration.

Tell them that their inconsistency in applying the human dignity policy reflects very badly on the school, particularly since the principal's membership in the anti-gay organization brings up conflict of interest issues. And then ask them about the message they send to their gay students by allowing this preacher of hate and discrimination to operate in their facilities.

2 Comments:

  • At 7:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think its terrible for people to be in anti-gay groups. I suppose i respect their rights to have such a group, but i still think it is terrible. I support Mr. Bates in standing up for people's rights.

    -BlackdogofOcean

     
  • At 8:44 PM, Anonymous Redstar(friendofblackdog) said…

    I have met mr. bates at the school i go to but i never knew anything about him. I suport people who fight for equal human rights and respect for people's sexual preference.

     

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