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Philadelphia Extends Anti-Bias Protections

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The Philadelphia school board has broadened its anti-discrimination protections by adding "sexual orientation'' as a category in its student-conduct and discipline policy.

The code now reads that "all students are entitled to share in [the district's] educational programs ... without regard to race, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, or handicap.''

Students who are harassed through the use of slurs associated with their sexual preference will be able to file a discrimination complaint, even if they are not homosexual, a spokesman for the district said.

A study commissioned by the board found that there was no "systematic'' harassment of homosexual students. A Gay and Lesbian Task Force member said, however, that "faggot'' and other slurs are common occurrences.

The board last summer amended its equal-opportunity employment code to bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and has also agreed to expand summer workshops for teachers and administrators on dealing with homophobia. --WS

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