Advocates of Big Brothers Big Sisters rebuff discrimination concerns at Pittsburgh Public Schools board meeting

The Pittsburgh School Board heard from 28 speakers on Sept. 17, 2018. Most of the speakers spoke in either support or against the questioning about sexual preference and religion done by the nonprofit organization Big Brothers Big Sisters. (Photo by Kat Procyk/PublicSource)

A singular message rang from the voices of two dozen speakers at the monthly public hearing of the Pittsburgh Public Schools board on Monday:
Don’t let the few objections over questions posed about volunteers’ sexual orientation, religion or other personal matters halt the district’s relationship with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh.
“I’ve been in the program since I was a freshman and I can confidently say this program has changed my life for the better,” said Brashear High School student body president Leon Blair.
School board member Moira Kaleida raised concern at the Sept. 12 board meeting about whether the questions asked of prospective volunteers for Big Brothers Big Sisters violated the district’s anti-discrimination policies and practices. PublicSource published a story about the mentoring organization’s interview questions and the district’s concerns on Sunday.
Kaleida’s father, Kenneth, had recently gone through the interview process and said he felt that questions asked about sexual orientation, religion and mental health were inappropriate. Kenneth Kaleida, a retired school counselor, told PublicSource it appeared that Big Brothers Big Sisters was attempting to screen volunteers.


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