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Indiana, No: SF Schools Continue to Boycott Antigay Legislation 

Wednesday, Apr 15 2015
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City agencies were in a huff over discriminatory legislation passed last month in the faraway state of Indiana: In late March, after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed the legislation, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, SF State University, and the city's public school system, San Francisco Unified, all froze travel funds to events in the Midwestern state. The "religious freedom" bill would have allowed private businesses to discriminate against LGBT people.

"We will not subsidize legally sanctioned discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people by the State of Indiana," San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Richard Carranza said late in March. "When terrible acts like these are committed, I am grateful once again to be part of a community that seeks to make social justice a reality every day."

Now that the Indiana measure has been revised to clarify language that appeared to allow business owners to refuse service to gays and lesbians, San Francisco schools' boycott of Indiana has outlasted that of the mayor — whose travel embargo only lasted five days. On April 1, Indiana's legislature sent revised language to Pence that prohibits the state's businesses from using the law to protect them against suits for discriminating against gays, lesbians, and transgendered customers on religious grounds.

"While not perfect, the changes made to Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act represent a step in the right direction," Lee said in a statement when he lifted the ban.

That's apparently where the mayor and the city's schools differ. So far, the revision doesn't appear to go far enough for schools officials including SF State University President Leslie E. Wong, who says he's still "studying the 'fixes' in Indiana and considering a lift of the ban."

Wong was the first university president in the nation to freeze travel funds in response to the legislation.

University spokesperson Ellen Griffin could not say how many students, faculty, or staff — if any — have been prevented from traveling to Indiana, but Wong revealed a couple weeks ago that he'd rather not attend a required NCAA Division II President's Council meeting in Indianapolis scheduled for April.

Apparently, he hasn't had a change of heart on that decision, Griffin says. He still plans to boycott the meeting.

Likewise, Carranza of SF Unified has yet to revoke his freeze on travel, saying he's "examining Indiana's revision to the law to see if it meets our requirements under SFUSD's policy, Equity for All."

San Francisco State and SFUSD, both public institutions, were the only local school systems to boycott Indiana.


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