Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge says too often the adults in Iowa’s schools “turn a blind eye” to harassment, particularly harassment of gay and lesbian students.
“We have to instill in our children values of diversity and acceptance,” Judge says. “We want to make Iowa a place where children are valued for who they are regardless of race, their gender, their religious beliefs and just as important their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Judge was this morning’s opening speaker at the third annual governor’s conference for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth. “You have stood up to the intolerance in our society to live your own life and rather than turn your back you are working to change people’s attitudes and make Iowa a place that’s more accepting of all people,” Judge said.
Judge cited last week’s shooting in a California school where a 14-year-old shot to death a 15-year-old classmate who was gay. “I’m here today to tell you that as long as Chet Culver is governor and I am the lieutenant governor we are going to do everything in our power to make sure that this kind of incident never happens in our state,” Judge said, to applause from the crowd.
Judge cited two bills Governor Chet Culver signed into law last year. One requires schools to adopt anti-harassment codes that forbid harassment against gay students and the other law forbids discrimination against gay Iowans at work or when they’re looking of housing. “We beat back intolerance. We beat back prejudice in our state and we stood up for the right and the freedom and the protection of every person in our state,” Judge said. “…but there is a lot we are going to have to do if we are going to have any lasting and real effect in our state.”
Judge told the 350 students and high school counselors in the room that they should go back to their schools and “be agents of change.” The event’s keynote speaker was a former NBA star who publicly announced he is gay during an appearance on ESPN and later wrote a book.
Click on the audio link below to listen to Judge’s 10 minute speech.