Chloe M. Harris, a South Philadelphia trans woman, has reached a settlement in her antibias complaint against Summit Children’s Program.
In August, Harris filed an antibias complaint against Summit with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. But last month, Harris withdrew her PCHR complaint due to the settlement.
Harris’ complaint alleged harassment and anti-LGBT bias at Summit, which offers preschool and childcare services to children in Mt. Airy.
Harris, 40, said she removed her child from Summit in September, alleging multiple anti-LGBT incidents at the program. According to Harris’ complaint, during a June 2016 Summit meeting, a Summit official said, “Homosexuality is a sin,” and the official’s husband also allegedly harassed Harris.
Another Summit official allegedly chastised Harris on Facebook, and stated that Harris no longer was welcome at Summit — apparently due to Harris’ LGBT status.
After the June 2016 meeting, numerous Summit board members, staffers and parents ostracized Harris, according to her complaint.
None of the people who allegedly harassed and/or ostracized Harris currently hold leadership positions at Summit, Harris said this week.
According to the settlement, which was finalized last month, Summit acknowledges no wrongdoing in the matter. But Harris received a two-page apology letter from Summit’s board president, Ian Hegarty.
Hegarty couldn’t be reached for comment.
Harris said Hegarty wasn’t involved in any of the discrimination, harassment and/or ostracism she experienced at Summit.
Hegarty’s letter states, in part: “We regret that these terrible incidents occurred and that it prompted you to feel compelled to withdraw your child from the school.”
Hegarty’s letter goes on to note that Summit has several new board members who are sensitive to the LGBT community. “We sincerely wish that we had acted sooner or provided you with more support during that trying time,” the letter states.
Additionally, Hegarty’s letter states that Summit recently instituted new policies to “insure the fair and equal treatment of students and parents without regard to sexual preference, orientation or any other basis protected by the law.”
Hegarty’s letter concludes: “While we understand that nothing can change these past events, we do hope that you will accept our sincerest apologies.”
Harris said she was satisfied with the settlement.
“It’s extremely important to me that this series of incidents was given visibility and not pushed under the rug,” Harris said in an email. “I’m very thankful for the support and assistance the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations gave me. My sole objective in making the complaint was to ensure this type of discrimination never again happens at Summit. It’s essential to stand up for our children. But I also believe we need to stand up for ourselves in front of our children.”
Lauren Stutzbach told PGN that she also removed her child from Summit.
“I pulled my child from Summit Children’s Program as a direct result of the discriminatory actions/statements of the then-board and some of their family members at the June meeting,” Stutzbach said in an email. “If the board’s stance at the time had been apologetic rather than defensive, we might not have left.”
An attorney for Summit couldn’t be reached for comment.