Fishers mayor weighs in on HSE Schools non-discrimination policy controversy

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FISHERS, Ind. (WTHR) — The Fishers mayor is now voicing his opinion on the HSE Schools non-discrimination policy.

It comes after a Wednesday night school board meeting in which a majority of board members voted against adding language to specifically list sexual orientation and gender identity.

Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness posted a response on Facebook on Friday saying in part: "It is my hope and [ I ] ask that the HSE School Board will enumerate those most vulnerable in their anti-discrimination policy and bring us one small step closer to a more complete community."

"Although I recognize and respect the division of authority between our school system and city government, I cannot abdicate my role as a community leader. Our community continues to be viewed and recognized as one of the best cities in the nation to live and raise a family. Those accolades ring hollow if we are not willing to support those among us who are most vulnerable. We should not discount the effect of finally saying in an affirmative voice that we see you, we hear you, and we stand with you as one community. For those currently in power, it may be difficult to discern the value of these actions, but we have not walked in others' shoes. We have not experienced the pain and struggles of those who have felt marginalized by our society. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, 'The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.' It is my hope and ask that the HSE School Board will enumerate those most vulnerable in their anti-discrimination policy and bring us one small step closer to a more complete community." - Mayor Scott Fadness - Fishers

The issue came to a head on Wednesday's school board meeting when Sylvia Shepler, a board member since 2000, began by voicing that she did not want to list specific groups for protection because it would make other groups feel less important.

Board member Julie Chambers then asked for a motion to amend the non-discrimination agreement to include wording that listed protections such as sexual orientation and gender identity.

Later in the discussion, Shepler said she wanted to pose questions, but didn't need answers:

  • "Why is this happening so much more in these recent years?" She went on to say "it has risen to a loud level."
  • "What happens to children, even families, who embrace and accept whole-heartedly that gender-dysphoria is normal in an individual."
  • "Is there something we, parents, educators, policy makers, communities are missing? Could there be other influences outside of ourselves that have ulterior motives? Could we be pawns?"
  • "Why are we so afraid of voicing truth?"
  • "There is a growing trend, from what I've been reading, about rapid onset dysphasia and it shows up before, during or shortly there after puberty. Often they're seen in clusters even. There's great influence from peers and social media, even media in general. Is now becoming more and more acceptable that it's cool, it's popular. It's having a gold star in the eyes of their peers."
  • "Why wasn't this condition acceptable in the past and is now? Now, it seems that being straight is less acceptable almost."

During those questions, other board members, students and parents in the audience spoke out.

The board then voted on the issue of adding language protecting students and employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Those who voted for it were Julie Chambers, Janet Pritchett and Michelle Fullhart.

Those who voted against the language adding specific protections included Mike Bottorff, Sylvia Shepler, Brad Boyer and Amanda Shera.