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Teacher asks Brevard County school board to recognize gay marriage

VIERA, Fla. – A high school science teacher wants his marriage to another man to be recognized by Brevard Public Schools. And on Tuesday, he called on the Brevard School Board to change its non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Daniel Wall-DeSousa told Local 6 news partner Florida Today that he believes changing the policy would create a trickle-down effect, from extending district benefit to same-sex spouses to better protecting students who are bullied for being gay.

Wall-DeSousa married his partner, Scott, in New York last December. And after returning home, he filed for a change of life on his benefits, in order to add Scott to his health insurance.

And that prompted about 30 people to attend Tuesday's board meeting seeking a policy change.

"Put this on the agenda," said Scott Wall-DeSousa, who is currently uninsured. "We are a priority, we are not second rate."

Changing the policy would protect both employees and their spouses, as well as students who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, Daniel Wall-DeSousa said.

Gabriel Rothblatt, a Democratic congressional candidate who is seeking to unseat Republican Rep. Bill Posey, also called for change.

"We do live in a community that needs help in fighting these levels of discrimination," said Rothblast, a board member of the Brevard chapter of the ACLU. "Let's not wait and let's not assume that this discrimination is covered, let's let those people know that we are accepting of them."

School Board member Amy Kneessy asked the school district's attorney to write a memo clarifying the district's policies.

Right now, the district's non-discrimination policy covers identified groups in federal law, such as age, disability, race and religion – but not sexual orientation.

"Sexual orientation is not covered under the federal EEOC guidelines," Spokeswoman Michelle Irwin said of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. "We comply with state and federal laws."