An Orange County Department of Education trustee is seeking an investigation into a fellow board member’s alleged use of an anti-gay slur and possible creation of a hostile workplace.
David L. Boyd says he will request at the May board meeting legal counsel on an email trustee Robert Hammond sent to an unnamed employee in April 2014 stating, “I hope you don’t mind, but I plan on asking you about your sexual orientation publicly at our next board meeting.”
The email was obtained through a public records request that included a second message where Hammond referred to gays as “sodomites,” Boyd says.
“To my knowledge, no lawsuits have been filed related to Mr. Hammond’s conduct, but the Board and the Department need to get ahead of this problem before it becomes a liability,” Boyd writes on OCDE letterhead.
In the letter, Boyd requests Orange County Superintendent of Schools Al Mijares investigate Hammond’s emails. “But more importantly,” Boyd adds, “we need to ensure all our employees are treated with the respect they deserve.”
Boyd includes this statement from Laura Kanter, director of Policy, Advocacy and Youth Programs with the LGBT Center of OC in Santa Ana:
To ask any employee about their sexual orientation, either in private or in public, is a wildly inappropriate and outrageous violation of their right to privacy. We believe this type of behavior is incomprehensible. Trustee Hammond’s ignorance and threatening behavior create an unsafe and hostile work environment for other Board members and OCDE employees that impacts the entire community and especially our students.
This is someone who is making far-reaching decisions about the education of Orange County youth and his behavior demonstrates that he is unfit to do so without bias. Mr. Hammond’s tone is alienating to multiple groups, not only the LGBT community. This undermines the trust in the community and the efficacy of the Orange County Board of Education.
A request for comment from Hammond has not yet been honored, but should one come it will be added to this post as an update.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.