Doug Robinson and Larry Sauer

From OutHistory
Jump to navigationJump to search

Doug Robinson (left), Larry Sauer (right) School Board members Photo by Ron Schlittler.

Doug Robinson

Born March 26, 1951

School Board, District 2

New York, New York

21,000 children in District 2

Career Overview

Elected May 1996

Re-elected 1999

Larry Sauer

Born January 17, 1953

School Board, District 3

New York, New York

15,000 children in District 3

Career Overview

Elected May 1996

School Board President July 1996 – June 1997

Re-elected 1999

Interview with Doug Robinson for Out and Elected in the USA

Q: You are not planning to run for the School Board again. Why not?

A: It’s tough in a time where school boards are being bashed left and right and where the state legislature took away most of our powers, although in the rest of the state the school boards have much more power in terms of controlling budget and those kinds of things. We’re basically an advisory board and we do liaison work with the schools now – so the meat and guts of it have been taken away, except we do appoint the superintendent. So it’s tough.

Q: With a few years yet for you to go, do you feel that it is all time well spent?

A: Well, I’ve certainly tried to make the best out of it. I’ve tried to help people – and concerning gay families, I’ve pushed for policies that support les-bi-gay kids and les-bi-gay families, and that’s been very good. By example, I have gotten more teachers to come out – even our former superintendent was a lesbian and she was pretty much closeted, but I think we helped her to come out a little bit more. She was not willing to come out publicly as a lesbian, but she is a lot more open and she was very supportive of us getting things done for kids. We have a Project 10 program in our district and we are the only one in our state to have it, although a couple of districts are now following suit. We have gotten teachers and principals to be trained around les-bi-gay issues and we want to continue that. We were the first district in the city and, think in the state if I’m not mistaken, to have in our sexual harassment policy include a section about les-bi-gay children. So, those things have been rewarding. You know, you are up there, you’re looking at policy, because that’s what we do.

Interview with Larry Sauer for Out and Elected in the USA

Q: What do you do in your role as school board member when you make in-school visits?

A: With my ability to listen and to build on all of the information I’ve gained over the years I’ve learned to visit schools with a very sharp eye as to if it’s just PR or reality I’m observing about how things are improving. I ask very succinct questions about things like the number of guidance counselors and I’ve actually caused an increase in guidance counselors, which allows our small schools to have a whole guidance counselor rather than sharing one – which certainly serves children in a much more complete way. I’ve been able to advocate for librarians in our small schools where they were not originally funded for them. I’ve been able to advocate for deepening of curriculum after listening to parents as to why they choose certain of our schools during middle school choice, and help schools that are not getting as much interest as they would like to add things – like two schools that will be adding Spanish, adding foreign language, which will help increase a wider range of students choosing that in our choice process. I like to be sure that the work the superintendent plans to do and works hard to implement is successful in reaching the classroom – turn-keyed by the school leaders so that better educational practices are actually in the classroom. I think I’ve learned enough to really challenge school leaders to be better and provide more. Because of my questioning, all children that are retained need to be monitored the following year for their success. I want to ensure their needs are being met so that they will improve and to ensure that they are successful – so that attention is brought to the neediest children so that they’re not written off as hard learners, “so why make the effort.” I believe that our efforts need to go the neediest – not at the expense of the less needy, but still, we need to pay attention to the neediest.

For information on a touring exhibit version of Out and Elected in the USA: 1974-2004, contact Ron Schlittler at

This entry is part of the featured exhibit Out and Elected in the USA: 1974-2004 curated by Ron Schlittler. As it is content created by a named author, editor, or curator, it is not open to editing by the general public. But we strongly encourage you to discuss the content or propose edits on the discussion page, and the author, editor, or curator will make any changes that improve the entry or its content. Thanks.