Stop LGBT+ discrimination in North Louisiana Schools

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An open letter to the Caddo Parish School Board and Southwood High School.

 

Dear Reader,

As many of us know, Kami Pham is a Southwood Senior and fellow classmate. You may not know that she is a member of the National Honor Society and the Art Club. She is very active on campus and shows school pride the same as any other student. Kami to many of us is a friend. Like many of our senior friends, Kami was excited for her senior photos, and for them to be in our final high school yearbook, as well as our senior wall. These things signify just how important graduation is, and how big of a turning point this is for many of us in life.  It aids in displaying just how important this final year of high school is for us. You only get to graduate high school once, and like many of us, Kami was hoping to make it memorable.

Unfortunately, some people do not agree with that. Our principal since 2010, Jeff Roberts, did not see it that way. He believes in a bigoted ideology that those in the LGBT community are not welcome here, and will not be able to find a place at Southwood. Roberts, citing a non existent rule in the Caddo Parish Student Handbook and Southwood High School Dress Code, claimed that Kami’s photographs were not to be printed in our yearbook or displayed on our senior wall, because she chose to wear a wig and “feminine” attire, which Roberts went on to deem “inappropriate” for someone who's birth certificate identifies them as male. Copies of the dress code can be found on the CPSB website, as well as on the SHS website.

Not only is there no documented rule against wearing any specific clothing for senior pictures in the Southwood Dress Code, but there is no such in the Caddo Parish Student Handbook. If, for any reason, a rule needed to be added to the requirements (of which none were given) the school hired photographer and Southwood staff should have notified within a timely manner, which they did not do. Many seniors took their photographs for the yearbook/wall in the months of June and July.

The school hired photographer nor school staff notified her of the outfit not being eligible until March of this year, with barely two weeks between the finalization date and printing for our yearbook.

In addition to the already discriminatory behavior, Roberts went on to say that Kami would not be allowed to walk across the stage at graduation if she decided to wear heels and a long hairstyle, something many students wear to graduation annually, and that, again, there is no rule against.

We hope to achieve for Kami the ability to walk across the stage in any way he chooses to, and for the same for students throughout Caddo Parish. We also demand that Kami be allowed in our yearbook, as well as on our senior wall, as well as a formal apology from Jeff Roberts for discriminating and violating the first amendment rights of a student and abusing his authority as principal.

We would like to see these actions taken as quickly as possible because they do in fact violate legal rights of a student as well as the Title IX revisions made in 2010. We have already contacted legal groups who will help us if legislation is not put into place on a district level to protect the rights of gender non-conforming students. Kami may not have been the first, but we for sure want her to be the last. We have already contacted our local news station, but they have told us that they cannot cover the story until the school board gives a statement, which will hopefully be soon. We would again like to say thank you to everyone who has signed, regardless of if you attend our school or not as it shows that people are watching this take place, and supporting our students.

We have begun spreading this petition in more online spaces as we are on Spring Break and cannot easily contact one another. If you are a Southwood or other local high school student, please be sure to share a post about this on your social media. 

This letter is to highlight the unfair and discriminatory behavior at Southwood High School from our principal, Jeff Roberts. Our school contact information is below, and their hours are Monday-Friday from 7 am to 4 pm. If you have the time, please send an email, call, or letter to Southwood High School or the Caddo Parish School Board showing your support. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to sign this petition and help protect the rights of our youth. Our rights do not go away just because we enter a classroom. 

Sincerely,

Southwood Students

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CONTACT INFO

Southwood Contact Info:


9000 Walker Road
Shreveport, LA 71118
Main Office: (318) 686 - 9512
Fax: : (318) 687 - 7588
jroberts@caddoschools.org
http://www.southwoodcowboys.org/contact-us

Hours: 7am-4pm M-F

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Caddo Parish School Board Contact Info:

CPSB Central Office
1961 Midway Avenue 
P.O. Box 32000 
Shreveport, LA 71130-2000 
(318) 603-6300

Hours: 7:30am - 4:30pm M-F

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Caddo Parish School Board Superintendent:


T. Lamar Goree, Jr., Ph.D. 
P.O. Box 32000
Shreveport, Louisiana 71130-2000
(318) 603-6300

Hours: 7:30am - 4:30pm M-F

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CPSB Board Member for District 10:

Durwood D. Hendricks, Jr.

2012 S Brookwood Dr

Shreveport, LA 71118

Tel: (318) 364-0119

Email: ddhendricks@caddoschools.org

Hours: 7:30am - 4:30pm M-F

Please note that we are on Spring Break, so calling these numbers will most likely result in voicemail. until Tuesday  If you would like, you can call and share your support. It will still be possible to email at any of the above addresses. 

 



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