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N.H. District Alters Ban On Teaching About Gay Life

The Merrimack, N.H., school board has replaced its ban on classroom discussion that could encourage or promote homosexuality with a new ban on school activities that promote sexual activity or any sexual orientation.

The 4,600-student district made headlines earlier this year when it barred teachers from giving instruction or counseling that could depict homosexuality in a positive light. Teachers, parents, and advocacy groups quickly sued the district, saying the policy forced teachers to censor themselves. (See Education Week, Feb. 28, 1996.)

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit last week withdrew their case, saying the policy changes made it unnecessary.

The new policy was approved by a 3-2 vote early this month. The board, however, has not said what activities would be prohibited.

Shelly B. Ucinski, a board member who voted against the new policy, said it is ambiguous. "I think dances and proms promote sexual orientation," she said.

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