Friday, September 22, 2006

Kentucky Equality Federation and Northern Kentucky University Reach Agreement

Kentucky Equality Association/Federation President Jordan Palmer stated today that he is now satisfied with Northern Kentucky University's response to an incident involving a gay student.

On August 28th, Jeremy Phillippi said he found "(this word omitted by Kentucky Equality) you fag, I hope you get AIDS" on his dorm room door and that the decorations on a bulletin board had been torn down. Phillippi is a resident adviser at the university and a member of Common Ground, Northern Kentucky University's Gay-Straight Alliance.

Phillippi filed a complaint with the Federation to push NKU administrators to take a more aggressive stance against acts of discrimination, intimidation and hatred.

The Kentucky Equality Federation requested university management assume a more "hands on" role in the investigation and issue a public statement condemning this action with consequences of targeting students because of their sexual orientation or gender identity clearly identified.

"After speaking to Vice President of Student Affairs Mark G. Shanley, I have a much better understanding of the situation," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "We had a very friendly, candid conversation about the incident and will keep an open dialog. I thought Mr. Shanley was both receptive and supportive, having made himself personally available to Phillippi if he encountered any additional problems."

Vice President Shanley and Dean of Students Kelso stopped by a Common Ground meeting this week and spoke with them about discrimination, tolerance, and a variety of other topics.

Palmer's comments where echoed by Common Ground's Co-President Mike Volmer yesterday during a telephone conversation with Palmer.

"Because the reported misconduct also represents behavior inconsistent with our University's values, it is important that we also respond in a manner that sends a clear message reaffirming the importance of civilized behavior toward all individuals and discouraging behavior which threatens the freedom and respect that every individual deserves. When the investigation into this complaint is completed, I will personally communicate this message to the entire Northern Kentucky University community," stated Northern Kentucky University President James C. Votruba.

Phillippi partnered with another resident adviser to facilitate a two-day program focused on diversity, tolerance, and AIDS with the University Housing Department providing funding, marketing support and serving as co-sponsor.

Palmer stated Kentucky Equality Federation would continue to support its members and Gay-Straight Alliances across Kentucky.

Palmer and other management from Kentucky Equality Federation still plan to meet with members of Common Ground's Board to discuss monetary and material ways the federation can support the Gay-Straight Alliance.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Kentucky Equality Federation Provides New Service to Report Hate Crimes, Discrimination, and School Bullying

Kentucky Equality Federation (formerly Kentucky Equality Association) is now officially offering to serve as a "buffer" between victims of hate crimes, discrimination, and school bullying.

Kentucky Equality has successfully settled nine complaints submitted by members across Kentucky so far in 2006 with two others still pending. Until today however, Kentucky Equality offered no official online form or specific manager to handle the complaints. So far, none of the cases have required lawsuits.

Given the fact that Kentucky Equality Federation has received so many official complaints and general inquiries this year alone, the Board of Directors believes this is the next logical step. "If the people need us to serve in this capacity, then we will step up to the plate," stated Nancy Couch, Secretary of the Federation.

Kentucky Equality believes a lot of incidents go unreported each year throughout Kentucky because of bad experiences in reporting them, others fear being "outed" or reprisals from their perpetrators. However, unless people do report it, there will be no true record of the extent of the problem and nothing will be done to address it.

"Some children and teenager's, especially in small Kentucky communities are afraid to go to the police, or take legal action when they suffer from or witness discrimination, school bullying, and even hate crimes," stated Jordan Palmer, president of Kentucky Equality. "Schools throughout the commonwealth are particularly quick to dismiss school bullying related to a child or teenager's gender identity and sexual orientation; we want to make sure their complaints are taking seriously, and make sure local officials stop it with more than just a slap on the wrist."

Kentucky Equality will keep all specific information submitted by victims confidential unless violence or a life is at risk. "If the person wants our help, we will do everything possible and necessary to keep their names confidential, and bring every resource to bear on the issue," stated Palmer. "Kentucky Equality Association/Federation isn't just about fighting for civil rights, we stand united together when one of us is attacked, in whatever form."

Kentucky Equality believes teaching tolerance and acceptance is critical at high schools, colleges, and universities; last week the Federation matched operating budgets for Eastern Kentucky University's "EKU Pride Alliance," and Boone County High School's "Gay-Straight Alliance."