2013 Bob Page Equality Champion | Janet Joyner
Janet Joyner is the 2013 recipient of the Bob Page Equality Champion Award.
Janet Joyner grew up in the South Carolina low country. She has lived most of her adult life in Winston-Salem where she taught French language and Literature at the North Carolina School of the Arts.
Following her retirement in 1994, she devoted over a decade to changing the policies that drive the programs and practices that negatively impact LGBT youth in NC schools. In 2000, she was appointed by the State Supt. of Education to the Safe Schools Advisory Board of the NC Department of Public Instruction where she served for 5 years. And from 2004-2006, she served on the national Advisory Council of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
As a member of the NC State Safe School's Advisory Board, she helped formulate the statewide anti-bullying policy proposed to the State Board of Education for adoption in 2004. The State Board of Education failed to adopt that policy which would, in succeeding years, become the model for the legislative proposal to the NC General Assembly and finally be enacted as the Stop School Violence Protection Act in July of 2009.
As a member of both ACLU of NC, and of the Winston-Salem chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Ms Joyner was the lead plaintiff in a successful suit (2006-2012) against the Forsyth County Commissioners for their practice of allowing sectarian prayers as Invocations at governmental meetings for public petitions and comment. The US Supreme Court declined to hear the county’s appeal of the ruling upheld by the US 4th District.
When asked why she cared about the Invocations, Joyner responded: ” I care, for the same reason we should all care about our fundamental democratic values. The right of conscience. The protection of minorities. This is about having invocations that respect our many faiths and invite us all to turn inward to invoke whatever guidance we acknowledge in order to do our public, common business with justice, compassion, and equity.” She also added: “Finally, I care because of my Christian heritage. One that taught we are a house of ‘many mansions.’ Even Christendom isn’t monolithic and doesn’t speak with one voice on many matters, and ecumenism is today, apparently, one example in Forsyth County.”
Additionally, in retirement, she has continued her life-long interest in writing. She is the South Carolina Poetry Society’s 2010 winner of the Dubose and Dorothy Heyward Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in Main Street Rag, Pembroke Magazine and Bay Leaves, of The NC Poetry Council, where they won distinctions in 2010, and 2011. In 2013, in The Cincinnati Review, is her Schiff Prize 2nd place winning poem, as well as poems in Emrys Journal, The Comstock Review, and the forthcoming issue of The Journal of Kentucky Studies; she was The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature’s featured poet for its April 2013, edition.