A principal at a Long Island high school has blocked a group of LGBT and straight students from forming a gay-straight alliance at Valley Stream South High School. The principal, Maureen Henry, denied the request after three students -- with the support of several hundred of their classmates -- submitted a proposal to form an official school club. The students had been working on the proposal since October, and tell the Long Island Herald that they followed all proper protocols and procedures.
Still, Principal Henry denied their request. And here's an added insult to injury: when the students told Principal Henry about rampant anti-gay slurs, including use of the word "faggot" in the school, the Principal said it wasn't that big of a deal.
"Principal Henry told the students that she too called people 'faggots' when she was young and didn’t mean anything bad by it," says a press release from LIGALY, the Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth organization.
Right, because "Faggot" is such a positive, uplifting term of endearment.
Urge Valley Stream South High School to enact a gay-straight alliance for students, and tell Principal Henry that her suggestion that "faggots" is a benign term is grossly inappropriate for an educator charged with keeping all of her students, gay and straight alike, safe and free of harassment.
Perhaps more concerning is a press release circulated by the Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth organization, where Principal Henry is said to have told students that the term "fag*ots" isn't all that offensive, and doesn't mean anything crude. (See this link: http://www.ligaly.org/news.php?i=167)
I beg to differ. Terms like this are constantly use to berate, bully and harass students because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. For the principal of a school to suggest that the word means nothing, is irresponsible at best, and an abdication of her duty to keep classrooms safe for all at worst.
I demand Principal Henry apologize for suggesting that the term "fag*gots" is benign, and I urge Valley Stream South High School to allow students to form a gay-straight alliance. It's the right thing to do for safe schools, and the right thing to do for addressing a culture where gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students are all too easily bullied in schools.
Thank you for your time.