CCC urged to oppose gay bias Group appeals to trustee board

October 20, 1994|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Sun Staff Writer

Several students and staff members of Carroll Community College urged the board of trustees last night to say, in no uncertain terms, it won't tolerate discrimination against gays.

Meanwhile, the board is considering a policy change recommended by the county attorney that decries discrimination but stops short of specifying sexual orientation.

The board will meet next Nov. 16 to discuss and vote on the matter.

Ten people, all students, staff or former staff, testified before the board in support of including the words "sexual orientation" in all statements of nondiscrimination that name other groups.

"As educators, we are agents of change, and if we are not acting as agents of change, we will never be able to move the community into the future," said Michael Barretti, who teaches social services and psychology.

Dr. Barretti brought with him the 14 students in the social services class he was teaching down the hall when the board met.

He said the board should act courageously, even if the decision may go against public opinion.

College materials such as the catalog and handbook say the school will not discriminate based on age, race, religion, handicap, ethnicity or sex. The college Senate voted 7-4 on Sept. 9 to include the words "sexual orientation" in that statement.

In the 1993-1994 academic year, the college had added "sexual orientation," but the board had the words removed for materials printed this summer when the county attorney pointed out that the board had never approved the addition.

The latest proposal from the county attorney and college administration is to strengthen the nondiscrimination clause by saying CCC will not tolerate discrimination on "any other basis not related to that person's eligibility or qualifications."

But most of those who spoke or wrote letters to the board want specific mention of gays and bisexuals.

Student Terry Rucker is president and the only official member of Allies, a group supporting gay and bisexual students and their friends and family. He said that former members felt unwelcome by college officials and pulled away after the college took out the protection last summer.

"It's like they don't want to let anyone know who they are," Mr. Rucker said.

"It is a very serious step in the wrong direction" to take out the protection, said the Rev. Sara Waldron, a former counselor at the college and now chaplain at Hood College.

"Social change never occurs without the conviction of [those who] put the welfare of others above themselves."

Senate President Ralph Wood, a math instructor, said that although U.S. and Maryland laws don't specifically protect from discrimination of gays, a college should lead the way.

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