When the Hamilton Southeastern Schools Board of Trustees recently revised the district’s non-discrimination policy, following pressure from the student body, Fishers High School senior Logan Faircloth described the feeling as “being up in the clouds.”
The board originally voted against specific language, such as gender identity, in the policy at its April 24 meeting. The board was required to vote on the policy twice. At the second meeting May 8, more public comments were heard. At the end of the meeting, three board members changed their vote and the policy passed, 5-2.
The two nay votes were cast by Sylvia Shepler, who made comments during the first meeting about how being straight was less publicly supported than being gay, and Amanda Shera.
“I think it was a combination of not only the pressure from the media but all the other influential people who spoke about it,” Faircloth said. “I think the additions of all those pressures (helped), and they didn’t want to keep coming back to this (topic) because we were not going to stop fighting.”
Faircloth and Jason Nguyen, another FHS senior, were student leaders of the HSEqual group, a community group fighting for the inclusion of the gender-identity language within the non-discrimination language. Nguyen, a gay Vietnamese student, said the language makes him feel more protected.
Nguyen, a cadet teacher who teaches kindergarten students, said the policy is important because the students he teaches may need its protections in the future.
“I’m going to be gone next year, but they’re not. They’re going to be here many, many years, so why not have this policy because they might need it,” Nguyen said. “Thank goodness we have it now so they can be protected and be who they are. That’s what they teach you in kindergarten, to be who you are.”
Nguyen said because he’s gay, he’s been made fun of a lot. However, he said he’s been targeted for other reasons, too.
“The little racial jokes can mean a lot. I’ve had people make fun of my eyes, or make fun of me and say I eat pets,” he said. “I feel so much more protected (now). When it does become a serious matter, I have something behind me to cover for me. I think that’s the thing, it doesn’t protect just LGBTQ people or trans people, it literally protects anyone.”
Faircloth said the objective moving forward is to educate administration and staff about the policy.
“Our goal is to have more training for teachers,” he said. “For teachers who have been in this field for 30 years, they may not know about transgender students and what they go through, and they don’t know what these students go through every day.
“Our goal is to make sure teachers are able to inform their students and have this information now and use it when educating students.”
Before the policy, Nguyen said a transgender student approached administration and said he reported the harassment he was receving but instead of taking action, the administration told him to suppress it instead of expressing himself. Another transgender student’s car and home were targeted after he spoke out in support of the non-discrimination policy.
Discrimination from administration
Fishers High School senior Logan Faircloth recognizes the importance of an anti-discrimination policy.
“One of my best friends is transgender and after learning about everything he goes through on a daily basis, and not just with his fellow students and classmates and even teachers, but his family life at home and how it’s shaped him as a human being. It’s hard not to do something,” Faircloth said. “He’s experienced hate from teachers mis-gendering him on purpose and other students harassing him and his friends and the administration not being able to combat that correctly.”