LGBT National Briefs: Arizona advocate, Southeast lawsuit

Caleb Laieski lands post with Phoenix mayor's office, while Georgia high school student president sues over firing


LAIESKI JOINS PHOENIX MAYOR’S OFFICE

Arizona-native Caleb Laieski, 17, who made the Washington rounds in 2011 lobbying for the Student Non-Discrimination Act, is joining Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton’s (D) office as the mayor’s ”Youth and Diversity Liaison,” the Arizona Republic reports.

Laieski, who dropped out of high school after suffering ongoing anti-gay bullying, will focus on an anti-bullying agenda. Nicole France Stanton, the mayor’s wife, is working on a complementary anti-bullying agenda, according to the Republic.

”Being a youth myself, I feel that this opportunity will allow me to bring a young person’s perspective to the administration,” says Laiseki, according to the LGBTQNation blog. ”During my time in this office, I will strive to see the dropout rate lower, intervention by school administrations steadily increase and the suicide rate rapidly decline.”

A stipend to cover Laieski’s commitment of five hours per week is being provided by ”one n ten,” a LGBT youth-advocacy nonprofit.

STUDENT SUING AFTER POSSIBLE FIRING FOR GAY-POSITIVE POSITION

A Georgia high school senior is suing his school district after being removed as the student body president as punishment, he argues, for suggesting that the school open prom king and queen nominations to gay and lesbian couples.

Reuben Lack, 18, was told by faculty advisers at Alpharetta High School that he could no longer serve as the president of his school’s student council because he was ”pushing personal projects,” according to The Georgia Voice.

In the lawsuit, filed March 20 in the U.S. District Court Northern District of Georgia, Lack argues that his removal infringes on his “exercise of rights protected by the first amendment,” the Voice reported.

”There’s a whole line of cases about First Amendment rights in schools,” James Radford, the student’s attorney told the Voice. ”Students retain their First Amendment rights so long as their speech is not substantially disruptive.”

In response to the lawsuit, Susan Wilcox Jiles, the district’s attorney, says that Lack’s claims are invalid.

”The student was essentially a poor leader,” she said in a statement. ”He behaved in manner not becoming of student body president including but not limited to rescheduling meetings with little notice, directly going against the instructions of the faculty advisers.”

Lack’s attorney responded by calling the school’s remarks ”baloney.”

”Reuben served as class president for … ten months with not a single warning from the administration that his position was at risk,” a statement released on Radford’s site reads. ”And then two weeks after his re-introduction of the ‘prom court’ resolution, he was sacked. In the meeting with the student advisors, Reuben was specifically told he was being punished for pushing ‘policy changes,’ in addition to references to off-campus email conversations.”

B OF A EXECUTIVE COMES OUT AGAINST N.C. AMENDMENT ONE

Ahead of North Carolina’s May 8 vote on Amendment One, which will give voters the opportunity to prohibit marriage equality in the state’s constitution, one of Bank of America’s top executives has come out in opposition to the move, Business Week reports.

In a video posted on YouTube March 9, Catherine P. Bessant, a Bank of America global technology and operations executive, called the amendment a ”direct challenge to [North Carolina's] ability to compete nationally for jobs and economic growth,” and said that its passage could have a ”disastrous affect” on the state’s ability to retain its economic growth.

Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America scored a perfect score in the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) 2012 Corporate Equality Index. Bank of America, the second-largest bank holding company in the U.S., is also an HRC corporate partner.

”We’re in a war with other states across the country who would love to have the jobs that we have today,” Bessant said in the video.

Follow Will O'Bryan on Twitter @wobryan.