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School board removes banner with gay group's logo

6:50 PM, Jan 28, 2010   |    comments
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The banner is part of the Anti-Defamation League's national anti-bullying program called, "No Place for Hate."

On the bottom of the banner were the logos for the program's sponsors. Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado was one sponsor.

The superintendent for Platte County School District #1, Stuart Nelson, says in December he received five complaints from parents.

"They just believed it was inappropriate," Nelson said.

In response, Nelson took down the banner from Wheatland High School and West Elementary School.

"My main intent was to take it down and take a look at the program to see what they were actually doing and the kids wanted the [School Board of Trustees] to make the decision and they did," he said.

On Jan. 18, the board voted 4-3 to remove the banner from the schools despite a plea from students who support the program.

One board member, Joe Fabian, spoke with KCWY-13 and defended the vote.

"If someone pays and sponsors a program, typically they're saying I agree with this message ... The gay and lesbian community is promoting gay marriage, the [Anti-Defamation League] is promoting gay marriage, Wheatland does not promote gay marriage," Fabian said.

Bruce DeBoskey, ADL's mountain state regional director, says that claim is outrageous.

"There's no agenda other than to promote respect for our differences and to make schools welcoming and inclusive for all the students who are there to learn," he said. "The school board members who voted to take down these banners were clearly motivated by homophobia."

Kelly Tyson, another board member who voted for removal, says he would have voted against the banner even if it had another organization on it like the Chamber of Commerce.

"We don't want any outside interests to advertise to our kids," Tyson said.

To Sierra Locy, a sophomore at Wheatland High School, neither the program nor banner constitutes advertising.
"I personally want the banner back because I thought it was good for our school," she said.

DeBoskey says about two dozen schools in Colorado and Wyoming are currently using this program.

"This is the first time that this has happened," he said. "It's sad and ironic."

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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