Student activists crash event, demand CPS grievance process

Fri. May 14, 2010 12:00 AM by Amy Wooten

Chicago, IL - Several LGBT youth ramped up their campaign to obtain a formal grievance process for Chicago Public Schools students Thursday night by crashing an education fundraiser.

On May 13, about 20 young LGBT activists intercepted CPS CEO Ron Huberman as he made his way to a fundraiser, where he receives a Peace in Education award. The group, organized by Gender JUST, surrounded Huberman before he entered the building and protested for roughly 10 minutes.

"It definitely was very successful," Gender JUST founding member Sam Finkelstein said. "It was amazing."

For months, Gender JUST has been meeting with CPS officials in hopes of implementing a grievance process for students who feel that they have been discriminated against or mistreated by CPS staff members, including teachers and maintenance staff.

Last night's action was a follow-up to a large protest recently held in the lobby of CPS headquarters. Gender JUST has held a series of direct-action events since April, in hopes of pressuring CPS to implement a grievance procedure. Gender JUST believes the procedure is one step towards ensuring education is safe and affirming for all students.

According to Finkelstein, Gender JUST members don't believe that Huberman has done anything to make schools safe for students, such as addressing violence.

"A lot of the youth were personally insulted that Huberman was given this award," he said. "It's bigger than just LGBT stuff. Students are literally being killed."

Finkelstein hopes that Thursday's event will lead to action. "We definitely showed him we aren't backing down," he said.