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National News Highlights — July 1, 2022

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Willie Carver, Jr. — Courtesy photo
Willie Carver, Jr. — Courtesy photo

Kentucky's teacher of the year quits, citing homophobia
NBC News reported on June 27 that Kentucky's "2022 Teacher of the Year," Willie Carver Jr., has quit the profession, after having to go back into the closet to keep his job teaching English in the small town of Montgomery.

Carver recounted his administrator's words at the time of his hiring: "He said 'You will be crucified. No one will protect you, including me.'"

That was 12 years ago. After changes in the school's administration, he was able to teach openly as a Gay man. But there were years prior to that of administrators trying to stifle LGBTQ identities, in what he described as a "death by a thousand cuts."

Carver said that his employer ordered teachers to remove books by LGBTQ authors from the curriculum, defended students accused of tearing down Pride posters, and shut down a student-led poll on LGBTQ inclusion.

The final straw, Carver said, was when the school failed to address repeated harassment, such as community members showing up to board meetings and accusing Carver and LGBTQ students of being "groomers." Verbal attacks were also made online.

"I have put up with these problems over the years because the benefits outweighed the cons," Carver said. "But I've now reached a stage where I'm starting to see the toll on my mental health is going to be such that my students are not going to be seeing a successful LGBTQ person in front of them. They're seeing someone who is stressed out and unhappy."

Title IX proposal aims to protect Trans students
Reuters reported on June 23 that the Biden administration has proposed expanding Title IX protections against sex discrimination to include Trans students, replacing rules established during the Trump administration that weakened the measures.

The changes would address how federally funded K-12 and higher education institutions respond to complaints of sexual discrimination, harassment, or assaults. It would mean Trans students would receive explicit protections under the law for the first time, requiring schools to respond promptly to complaints of sexual discrimination, provide support for complainants, and actively stamp out sex discrimination.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said on Twitter, "Every student should be able to learn, grow, and thrive in school & not be derailed in their education by sex discrimination."

The National Women's Law Center praised the move, while calling on the Biden administration to protect Trans student athletes as well.

Virginia Foxx, the top Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, said in a statement that such changes would undermine female athletes and due process. "For an administration that claims to carry the torch for 'equality,' these proposed regulations are steeped in hypocrisy."