Archive for the ‘Diversity’ Category

AIDSWalk and La Verne’s Rainbow Alliance

Hey! Join the University of La Verne’s Rainbow Alliance Team for this year’s AIDS Walk in Los Angeles on October 18. Check out the event website at AIDS Walk!

If you’re interested in joining La Verne’s Rainbow Alliance club here on campus, check out their website. They are having weekly meetings and are planning lots of activities for the year. Join up and stand up for GBLT pride.

Gender Differences and the Law

In Oxnard, California, Larry King, 15, was shot to death in his computer classroom by fellow student, Brandon McInerny, also 15. The reason: Larry expressed his gender in a way that was different. He told students he was gay – he sometimes wore earrings and make-up to school. He often sported his favorite high-heeled boots. Apparently, in the days before the shooting, he’d been teasing the shooter that he “liked” him.

How do we stop another killing in our classrooms over gender expression? I can tell you, the problem runs deep in the American culture. As I wait in the car line to pick up my kids at the elementary school, I’ve heard children teasing others about being “gay.” I see the facial expressions of horror or revulsion as a child denies being “gay.” In my home, we teach tolerance, but our words don’t seem strong enough to counter the undercurrent of homophobia in the schools.

Some might say, turn down that First Amendment when it comes to k-12 schools. Institute school uniforms, haircut requirements, jewelry and shoe limitations. Slam shut hallway and schoolyard speech. Some say, leave the freedoms instact, but put the burden on schools to heighten punishment for discriminatory or bullying behavior based on race, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Require schools to incorporate education on gays and lesbians into their general curriculum.

Some say, do nothing further than what’s been done. The education on tolerance belongs with the family.

What do you think should be done? Can the law really fix this problem?

Don’t forget: Black History Month

African-American Women This month, February, marks Black History Month, a time set aside to honor significant events and important people in African-American History. Please set aside your books, your research assignments, all that homework, and take a gander at the following links:

The History Channel

Raising the Bar – ABA

From Slavery to the Supreme Court

Reversed Results

In Torts class we learn how case law affects people and how they conduct themselves. For instance, because of the publicity and money damages arising out of the McDonald’s coffee cup case (Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants*), fast food restaurants began putting warnings on “to-go” coffee cups.  Take a look at what your Starbuck’s coffee cups says, and they weren’t even sued.

Likewise, over time, persons with disabilities were being denied equal access to areas such as telecommunications, public buildings, employment, transportation, and other services. In response, our government created the Americans with Disabilities Act , law that required businesses, employers, government offices and buildings, and telecommunication companies, to make accommodations to persons with disabilities so that they have equal access.

The natural result should have been that disabled folks now have access. However, a blog examining the issue, Freakonomics, notes that the very opposite might be true. The disabled may very well continue to be denied access because of the high cost of required accommodations. The blog tells the story of a deaf patient visiting an orthopedic doctor. She requested a sign language interpreter. The ADA states that the doctor would have to provide the interpreter at his cost – in the story, he’d have to pay a minimum of $240. While that wasn’t difficult for the doctor for one appointment, if she required surgery which came with 8 follow-up appointments, the doctor would be in debt to the interpreter (being that the surgery wasn’t very expensive) at the close of treatment. According to the article, the doctor’s peers indicated that they would simply decline to service the deaf patient. Meaning, in the end, the ADA managed to cut the deaf patient off from services as opposed to providing more access to those services.

The natural follow-up question then is, how are the disabled faring with employment opportunities? One figures that the same rejection of the disabled may very well be occurring without much attention.

The story raises the double-edged sword of legal accommodation. A similar clash of interests led to the death of affirmative action. According to some, people ended up getting discriminated against based on their race with affirmative action in place. Can’t win for losing. True equality, practically speaking, is quite difficult to accomplish. Perhaps it is impossible?

*Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants, P.T.S., Inc., No. D-202 CV-93-02419, 1995 WL 360309 (Bernalillo County, N.M. Dist. Ct. Aug. 18, 1994)

Source: ABA Law Journal Law News Now.

Jena 6

Hopefully, you’ve read about the Jena 6 by now, the six black students in Louisiana who are being prosecuted for attempted murder, unfairly some say. In brief, the story began last year when a young black man asked at his high school assembly whether he could sit under a tree commonly known as a gathering place for white students. The next day, nooses appeared in the tree. A fight broke out culminating with a white student punching out a black student. The white student was charged with simple assault and released. Nobody was charged for the nooses, allegedly there being no law broken. Tensions increased and another fight broke out, culminating in a black student punching out a white student. The result was six black students getting charged with attempted murder. The inconsistency raised the ire of the greater American community and last week over 10,000 people marched in Jena to protest the unfair administration of justice.

How interesting that while this is going on in Louisiana, a study came out indicating that black students are far more likely to get suspended from school than white students for the same offenses:

“In every state but Idaho … black students are being suspended in numbers greater than would be expected from their proportion of the student population. In 21 states—Illinois among them—that disproportionality is so pronounced that the percentage of black suspensions is more than double their percentage of the student body,” reports the Chicago Tribune, based on its own analysis of U.S. Department of Education data from the 2004-2005 school year.

I am much reminded of a pivotal U.S. Supreme Court case, McKlesky v. Kemp, 481 U.S. 279; 107 S. Ct. 1756; 95 L. Ed. 2d 262; 1987 U.S. LEXIS 1817; 55 U.S.L.W. 4537 (1987), which noted the following: “Baldus subjected his data to an extensive analysis, taking account of 230 variables that could have explained the disparities on nonracial grounds. One of his models concludes that, even after taking account of 39 nonracial variables, defendants charged with killing white victims were 4.3 times as likely to receive a death sentence as defendants charged with killing blacks. According to this model, black defendants were 1.1 times as likely to receive a death sentence as other defendants. Thus, the Baldus study indicates that black defendants, such as McCleskey, who kill white victims have the greatest likelihood of receiving the death penalty.” 481 U.S. at 287. The Baldus study  was “a statistical study performed by Professors David C. Baldus, Charles Pulaski, and George Woodworth (the Baldus study) that purports to show a disparity in the imposition of the death sentence in Georgia based on the race of the murder victim and, to a lesser extent, the race of the defendant. The Baldus study is actually two sophisticated statistical studies that examine over 2,000 murder cases that occurred in Georgia during the 1970’s.” 481 U.S. at 286.

Despite the harsh reality of the death penalty system, the case indicated that in order for a defendant to successfully claim his death penalty conviction violated the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution, he would have to, “prove that the decisionmakers in his case acted with discriminatory purpose.” 481 U.S. at 292. Not so easy a task, it turns out.

For information on the death penalty, check out the Death Penalty Information Center’s web page, in particular its FAQ.

Posted by C. Bekhor