On November 8th, 2019 at the Delegate Assembly in Traverse City, the Michigan Association of School Boards voted to support the expansion of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976 to include “sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.” The Delegate Assembly is comprised of members of publicly elected school boards from across the State of Michigan and kicks off the Annual Leadership Conference.
This resolution was offered by Kenowa Hills Public Schools who unanimously supported expansion of the ELCRA in June and sent this to the state legislators representing parts of the District. Kenowa Hills notes that “[b]eing one's authentic self is paramount in building [their] learner profile” and remarks that their work of shaping the lives of young people in their community are severely undermined due to the continued discrimination that LGBTQ+ students and graduates still face in this state. Kenowa Hills also amended their own procurements policy in April of 2019 to ensure that public dollars are not awarded to private vendors that still discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
Kenowa Hills also notes that current law allows all Michiganders to be discriminated against even if they are perceived to be LGBTQ+. Amending the ELCRA would strengthen civil rights protections for us all.
LGBTQ+ members of Michigan publicly elected school boards meet with Governor Gretchen Whitmer. From left to right: Eric-John Szczepaniak (Kenowa Hills Public Schools); Susan Estep (Saline Area Schools); Governor Gretchen Whitmer; Tobias Hutchins (Fennville Public Schools); and Kim Cannata (Allendale Public Schools)
Eric-John Szczepaniak serves as a trustee for the Kenowa Hills school board and student body president at GVSU. He is also the President of the Michigan Center for Civic Education.
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