Letter: Next Step in Bentonville Schools Debate

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Dear Friends,

b928055e-f161-4f8f-9cdd-d04f99df2a35Last week, I was among several people who spoke during the six-hour public comment period of the Bentonville School District’s proposed Equal Employment Opportunity policy. As a Bentonville resident and the president of the NWA Center for Equality Board of Directors, I spoke up because any qualified educator deserves the same protections as their colleagues.

This meeting and the debate Bentonville School Board Meetingsurrounding the long overdue policy change have been difficult to watch. Just days after Bentonville students rallied in support of equality, they saw opponents distributing literature titled “How To Get Out of The Gay Lifestyle”…at a school board meeting. We know Bentonville is better than this. At every step, NWA Equality supporters and members of our board have been present and urging for the district to choose fairness over fear.

The vote for this policy will most likely take place at the school district’s next meeting, this Monday, June 1st at 5:30pm at Ruth Barker Middle School. I hope you’ll join us in supporting equal rights for every public school employee in Bentonville. You can make a difference by contacting these school board members and asking them to support this policy proposed by board member Grant Lightle:

Travis Riggs, President,  Zone 5: (479) 273-2539,  travis@riggscpa.com
Willie Cowgur, Vice President Zone 4: (479) 936-0639, williecowgur@hotmail.com
Rebecca Powers, Secretary Zone 1: (479) 268-8170, rspowers4@gmail.com
Brent Leas Zone 2: (479) 381-2513, brentleas@gmail.com
Grant Lightle Zone 3: (479) 426-5807,  grant.lightle@sbcglobal.net
Matthew Burgess Zone 6: (479) 268-4043, bsbzone6@gmail.com
Wendi Cheatham Zone 7: (479) 254-1131, wendi.cheatham@ymail.com

This policy change does not only impact LGBTQ employees. In addition to sexual orientation, gender identity and genetic information, this policy would finally extend protections regarding pregnancy status, marital or parental status and veteran status. It is disappointing that the LGBTQ protections give the board hesitation in considering this policy. The University of Arkansas, Walmart and school districts across the country have adopted similar policies. Let’s help Bentonville take this step toward full equality.

To keep up with this issue you can follow our Facebook and Twitter channels, along with Bentonville Public Schools Citizens for Equality and Tigers for Equality.

Yours in Equality,
Chaz Allen
President | Board of Directors
NWA Center for Equality

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