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IWO Releases Statement to OPSB: “Deep concerns” about Leslie Ellison

On Thursday, the Independent Women’s Organization joined others in expressing concerns over Leslie Ellison’s potential to become president of the Orleans Parish School Board.

“No one with Ms. Ellison’s long history of anti-LGBTQ beliefs and testimony before Louisiana legislative committees should be elected to such an important leadership role,” the group stated in a letter to the OPSB dated January 16th.

In 2012, Ellison testified to the state legislature in support of a bill allowing charter schools to exclude LGBT students. Ellison was a charter school board leader at the time. During her testimony, she stated that she couldn’t sign a contract containing the anti-discrimination clause spelled out by the Louisiana Department of Education on the basis that the clause violated freedom of religion.

In July of 2013, Ellison opposed listing sexual orientation, religion, and race in an anti-bullying policy, according to a Time-Picayune article.

Several groups have met privately with school board members in order to sway votes against Ellison, including the Forum for Equality Louisiana, PFLAG, and Louisiana Trans Advocates.

According to The Advocate, former OBSP president Thomas Robichaux, who is openly gay, has stated that voting for Ellison would harm LGBTQ students.

“When I was president of the OPSB, we worked very hard to put in protections for LGBTQ students and staff in our anti-bullying policies and non-discrimination polices. … Leslie Ellison has already tried repeatedly to remove those policies. It is shocking to me that some board members that claim to be progressives or liberals are OK with Leslie Ellison’s position on these issues.”

In response to concerns over her anti-LGBT stance, Ellison has sought to focus attention instead on accomplishments such as her push for more finances to New Orleans classrooms.


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