top of page

Canva image

Proposed ‘Equality Act’ ignites discussion of discrimination in schools


By Nino Paoli

Published on 6/26/23

LA GRANDE — A federal bicameral proposal, co-led by Oregon’s U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, asks to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the list of protected classes under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In effect, discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community would be banned in spaces that receive federal funding, including public schools, which members of the community say are areas of concern for the LGBTQ+ population in Union County.

“I personally have not noticed anything systematically,” said Quinn Earle (they/them), a senior at Eastern Oregon University and the interim president of the EOU Student Advocates for Gender Equality. “I did notice a few teachers were struggling to use correct pronouns or correctly identify students when they asked.”

Vice President for University Advancement Tim Seydel said EOU is an equal opportunity employer and educator and pointed out the “numerous support systems” for the LGBTQ+ community, which includes the Multicultural Center, Student Diversity and Inclusion team, and student-run groups at EOU.

“If a student feels uncomfortable in a classroom environment where they’re experiencing issues, they should try to address it with that professor or faculty member, and if they don’t feel that’s appropriate, they should certainly take it to our Student Affairs office,” Seydel said.

Brittany Cambell, co-founder of the Eastern Oregon LGBTQ+ Coalition, said many young students come to seek support from the discrimination they experience in school.

“We’ve had a terrible amount of problems from the school systems, especially from middle school up,” she said. “It’s a huge amount of youth. They’re scared.”

Read the full article on The Observer's website here.

bottom of page