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School board in Indiana says poster promoting tolerance for gays can stay

December 9, 1997

CHESTERTON, Ind. (AP) _ A poster promoting tolerance for homosexuals can stay in the classroom where Bonney Leckie teaches English.

The Duneland School Corp. voted 4-1 Monday to uphold a district committee’s decision that the poster at Chesterton High School met curriculum standards.

``If this poster gets one kid to think, if it gets one child to not categorize or stereotype people, if it gets one kid to not use that derogatory word that we all know, then I think its educational value is inarguable,″ said Michael Griffin, a school board member.

The black and white poster has photographs of 10 famous historical figures, including Cole Porter, Walt Whitman, Michaelangelo and Eleanor Roosevelt, with a caption that reads: ``Sexual orientation has nothing to do with the ability to make a mark, let alone make history.″

Cathy and David Podguski, whose son Michael took English with Leckie last year as a freshamn, brought the complaint with evangelist Pat Robertson’s American Center for Law and Justice. The couple declined to comment after the meeting and their attorney, Charlie Rice, said an appeal is likely.

Leckie said she put the poster up at least six years ago to remind her students they live in a world with many different types of people and to be tolerant.

Dawn Rogers, the lone board member to vote against the poster, said she was concerned the board might be taking away parents’ rights to decide what values their children are taught.

``My definition of diversity may be different from others. My definition of tolerance may be different from others,″ Rogers said. ``We may be intruding on other people’s values, other people’s beliefs. We may be intruding on parental rights, what values I want instilled in my daughter.″

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