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South Florida Times: Gay students threatened with suspension for holding hands on Broward campus

Elgin Jones of The South Florida Times reports that Broward Schools has cleared a high school principal for lecturing and threatening to suspend two female students who held hands on campus.

POMPANO BEACH – The nation’s six largest public school district has cleared a high school principal accused of lecturing and threatening two female students with suspension for holding hands on campus. The students say the principal also “outed” them to their parents.

The South Florida Times is not identifying the students, who are an interracial couple, one a junior, the other a senior. Both have good grades and one is an honor student.

The two were holding hands while walking to class on May 3 at Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach. School Principal Karlton Johnson confronted and took them to his office.

Click here to read the complete article.

Monday night, Franco E. Ripple, public outreach coordinator for Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs, distributed this email to the media:

According to the article, earlier this month the school’s principal confronted an interracial lesbian couple who were holding hands, brought them into his office, gave them a speech and then separately called their mothers, one of which did not know that her daughter was gay.  The School Board has cleared the principal of any wrongdoing, stating that the school has a blanket policy against holding hands that applies to all genders, races, sexual orientations, etc.  However, a search of Blanche Ely High School’s website links only to the School Board’s code of conduct, and does not reference any school-specific policy against hand-holding.

Commissioner Jacobs was frustrated to learn that this kind of discrimination is happening in our schools in this era.  She believes that Broward County passed a Human Rights Ordinance for a reason, and singling out gay students for an innocuous, harmless activity like holding hands is not within the spirit of that ordinance or the community.

Shortly after, Broward gay/HIV activist Michael Emanuel Rajner released this email:

Franco, thank you for bringing this issue to my attention and please thank County Commissioner Jacobs for her continued leadership to end discrimination.

For good measure, I am copying several key leaders in the Broward LGBT and mainstream community as you requested, along with School Board members and Superintendent’s staff.

As you may be aware, I serve as one of School Board member Jennifer Gottlieb’s three appointees to the District’s Diversity Committee.  In that capacity, I have worked diligently over the last 4-years to broaden the District’s policies to be inclusive of LGBTQ-youth and employees.  School Board member Gottlieb provided the leadership to bring the following items before her colleagues and win unanimous support:

· Amend the District’s definition for “diversity” and “educational equity” to include “sexual orientation, gender identity and expression”

· Amend the District’s Non-Discrimination Policy to include “sexual orientation, gender identity and expression” as enumerated protected classes

· Introduced several resolutions to support GLSEN’s “National Day of Silence”, a day to increase awareness around LGBT-bullying

From my understanding the county’s Human Rights Ordinance explicitly excludes the school board and municipalities from having to comply with the ordinance.

Moments ago, I spoke with School Board member Gottlieb about this issue and shared my outrage for what appears to be an outright discriminatory action against these two young ladies.  Mrs. Gottlieb shared my concern.

Mr. Johnson clearly lacks the understanding of the unique factors contributing to the increased prevalence of bullying, suicide, substance abuse and more, of LGBTQ-youth.  I will be recommending the District take immediate action and review cases where students were disciplined for simply holding hands.  It is my initial gut feeling Mr. Johnson acted out of prejudice and not sound judgment.

I was very please to read Mr. Jones interviewed Kris Drumm from SunServe.  She is a passionate individual who works closely with LGBTQ-youth and families and hears the unspeakable horrors of so many LGBTQ-youth who are rejected by their blood-related family, simply because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.  Many years ago, I recall a youth in Los Angeles sharing his story of his father grabbing him by the throat and throwing him out the front door after his father learned he was gay.  The youth was forced to turn to the streets and engage in prostitution.  While I’m very proud of the actions the School Board of Broward County have taken, I remain frustrated that area superintendents and school-based administrators seem to not recognize the severity of this issue and fail to make it a priority.


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To each their own, but don't try to past this on us as it being in line with nature. There's nothing natural about man on man, or woman on woman. Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.

Oh, deal with it Pee Gee, that sentiment is going with the dinosaurs.
Adam and Eve weren't anywhere near perfect; they got kicked outta paradise for being disobedient, Adam was on his third wife, and their son killed his brother.
And as far as nature, maybe you should do some research. You'll find that humans aren't the only species to develop same-sex relationships.

why is the fact that the couple is interracial relevant?

johnson is awful . He makes the boys cut their hair off or be suspended, He is out of control. teachers are so scared of him

There is no such thing as adam and eve. religion was INVENTED by humans to scare people into submission. heterosexuality is inherited and there are plenty of studies to prove this. religious people make me sick with how holy they think they are yet they spread so much HATE. this principle needs to be fired his actions were sexist, racist, and homophobic.

Ugh, the human race makes me sick with all the hate. WHY CAN'T YOU ALL just live your lives and not worry about everyone else's.

Sadly, Johnson, as well as Pee Gee, will eventually have to face having Gay children, grand children, great grand children, etc. These children will live a life of shame and misery because of their viewpoint, and prejudices. WHAT ONE SOWS, SO SHALL THEY REAP.

God created Gays for God's reasons. Curb the world's over population, find loving parents for children abandoned by straights ... gotta trust in God's program. Rather than condemn and devide ... why not all work together, both Gay and straight, to solve the nations' starvation, poverty, and homelessness.
This is WIN - WIN !

Please post an update as to whether there have been ANY incidents of disciplining heterosexual hand-holding couples. I share your gut feeling, and I think that a lack of uniform enforcement might cause this guy some well-deserved problems.

Let me start by saying I have gay friends and family members. The same way I have friends and family members who smoke pot, drink alcohol, fornicate, yada yada yada. As I stated in my initial post, "To each their own", but please for cryin' out loud don't try to impose your lifestyle on me or others who aren't in agreement with it. Enough is enough already. If you want to live that way? Fine, no problemo. That's your choice. However, personally I don't think it's the way to go. Obviously, homosexuals can't create life like their hetereosexual counterparts. That, and for other practical reasons I think it should always and forever be Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.

Pee Gee: ahem.....who is imposing what on who?? As far as I can tell these young ladies were holding each other's hands.....not anybody else's....so not sure what you mean by "imposing"..... Just let them be!! If you don't like gays - then don't hang out with them....that's all. But you cannot impose your views on them - sorry dude....that's the "American Way" - freedom of expression :-)

Johnson should be reprimanded - completely unacceptable.

Pee Gee, you do not have gay friends & family members and if you do, you truly do not know them well. If you truly believe "to each their own," then live up to that belief. Also, nobody is imposing anything on anybody. "Lifestyle?" Yes, people love 'choosing' a lifestyle of discrimination so they can deal with people like yourself. So they can be told that they are not as worthy as other citizens. Pee Gee, do these girls make you want to hold somebody else's hand? Is that what you mean by imposing? Are you that frail? Because homosexuality is innate and not learned, you're telling me that you're closeted with that statement.

You're a bigot.

Love the name calling. It's crazy how offensive some get when a person doesn't agree with something. I thought this was a forum to express one's thoughts and share their opinioins. Guess not, eh? Oh well, I guess I'll go crawl back into my shell and keep my comments to myself. NOOOOOOT!

Listen, if you want to be gay, please by all means, go right ahead. It doesn't make you a criminal. It doesn't make you a bad person. Doesn't make you anyless a human being. Just don't try to sell me and the rest of the world's majority population that this act is the norm, cause it's not. Don't try to tell us that it's prefectly alright for a man and another man, or a woman and another woman to consummate. Because if that were the case then they'd be able to bear children. Fact is, depending on your beliefs whomever or whatever created this planet they had male and female in mind when it came to reproducing a human being. Not the other way around.

Here is a test that Mr. Karlton Johnson will not pass...

When I was a teacher at Blanche Ely High School a young gay student came to me and asked if I would sponsor a Lambda United (type) club at Ely. There are many LGBT students at Ely with little to no resources/support.

Lets just say that the Blanche Ely community frowns upon homosexuality (and that is putting it lightly).

This student asked me just as I was expecting to be surplus'd (i.e. laid off), so I told the student that "IF" I came back to Ely that I would be his sponsor.

The very next August I did in fact return to Ely. When I finally noticed the student walking through the halls (he did not have my class this semester), I asked him if he still needed a teacher-sponsor for the club. He replied (paraphrasing), "Oh, I don't need your help anymore. Mr. Johnson said that I couldn't start the club here." I immediately asked, "Why not?" The student replied, "He (Johnson) said that the club would be the target of violence and therefore he wouldn't allow the club to be formed."

This is political. The Ely community has a deep-seated fear/hatred of homosexuals.

How many students have been written up and/or suspended for holding hands in the hallway this year? How about since Johnson has been principal? When I was teaching at Ely there were a few instances of students who were kissing in the hallways being reprimanded, but I never once heard of anyone being reprimanded for merely holding hands.

I believe that Johnson has something on the School Board. Maybe the construction of the new stadium at Ely has something to do with it? I say this because Karlton Johnson's tenure at Broward County Schools is littered with atrocious behavior.

When Mr. Johnson was an Assistant Principal at Blanche Ely he initiated a physical altercation by striking a teacher.

Just last year (2010) Mr. Johnson initiated a bogus investigation upon two teachers (who just so happened to both be the BCS Teacher's Union Reps for BEHS) for allegedly "throwing holy water upon an atheist teacher." The teacher who (supposedly) made the allegations told me at the end of the (2010) year that she "(I) never claimed to have had holy water thrown upon me. No one ever threw water. There was no water. I never said that." Mr. Johnson claimed (in his report) that the teacher made the allegation to him and that he was required then to begin an investigation. This was a ruse. Mr. Johnson wanted to get rid of the BCS Teacher's Union Reps and the only way to do so is/was to have them placed under an investigation (teachers/employees who are being investigated are not allowed to work while being investigated; instead these people go to a warehouse in Broward County and take inventory of books all day). Mr. Johnson had two teachers (who he knew were innocent) escorted off of campus by Broward Sheriffs in the middle of class. The students were pretty upset. These teachers were replaced with substitutes for (most of) the remainder of the year. The teachers in question were cleared after nearly 3 months and were permitted to return to the classroom.

And now we have Mr. Johnson discriminating on student's based upon their sexuality?

Broward County Schools knows the truth about Mr. Karlton Johnson yet they still do not do anything about his actions. Why? I am not saying that his actions are criminal, but it is easy to see that Mr. Johnson's behavior and lack of professional ethics should disqualify him from being the principal of any school (especially a public school).

The "test" is that someone should try and have a gay/lesbian support club started on the BEHS campus. Lord knows that there are (at least) dozens of LGBT students at Ely who could really use a support group. If Johnson is not homophobic then he shouldn't oppose the formation of such a club. I would also believe that "IF" he did in fact oppose such a club being formed that he (Johnson) would be violating Federal law. But, I haven't gone to law school (yet), so I cannot say (for certain).

I firmly believe that all of you "journalists" who are writing about this story are sitting on one hell of a bigger story should any of you have the gusto to pry the lid off of it. Because I am an ex-employee, I am unable to be seen as objective and am therefore unable to do it myself. Cest le vie! When thinking about whether or not you should do anything, don't think about me. Do not think about your pessimistic editor asking you "Who cares about Ely?" Think about the students at Blanche Ely High School. I am certain that they care.

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