The Democratic race for State School Superintendent is the only primary race where all candidates responded to the Georgia Voice survey.

The state school superintendent’s office could gain increased attention from LGBT Georgians as the state works to implement a new anti-bullying law passed by the General Assembly this year.

Beth Farokhi, Joe Martin and Brian Westlake all said they support gay-straight alliance student clubs, the right for same-sex couples to attend high-school proms and anti-bullying programs that specifically address anti-gay slurs.

Farokhi and Westlake said they support comprehensive sex education. “Sex education should emphasize abstinence, but should also include factual information about ways to prevent pregnancies and socially transmitted diseases. However, schools should not be used to distribute condoms or birth-control devices,” Martin said.

Election: Five vie for State School Superintendent


Beth Farokhi
Age: 62
Occupation: Educator
Residence: Marietta, GA
• Attended Georgia Equality’s Evening for Equality
• Supports civil unions but not full marriage for gay couples
• Said she had no opinion on the state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
• States, “Our students need to have peer on peer education on bullying and sexual harassment. Programs geared to educate the adults and students is very important.”

Joe Martin
Age: 67
Occupation: Education and Business
Residence: Atlanta, GA
• Asked about a possible statewide non-discrimination law covering private businesses, states, “Sexual orientation and gender identity should not be a factor in the hiring and promotion of all employees, but I do not favor a state law in this regard beyond the federal laws on non-discrimination.”
• Supports civil unions, but notes: “All of the legal rights that are available to straight couples should be available to gay couples, who have entered into a legally binding civil union, but the most constructive direction at this time would be to seek to improve mutual understanding among all citizens instead of pressing for legal changes to re-define the definition of marriage.”

Brian Westlake
Age: 40
Occupation: Teacher
Residence: Decatur, GA
• Gave detailed response to problem of anti-gay bullying, noting “Both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers have worked with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to put together a series of workshops that would be a good place to start.”
• Supports gay marriage.


John D. Barge
Occupation: Education Administrator
Residence: Rome, GA

Richard Woods
Occupation: Educator
Residence: Tifton, GA