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LETTERS: LGBTQ protection or promotion at Durgee Jr. High

— The BOE President Burrill Wells formulated the district’s disappointing response to our concern about the stickers, recently. He noted in a letter that “…it is clear that the LGBTQ population was a specific concern behind the DASA legislation.” Similarly, he wrote, “Removing these cards (rainbow flags and stickers) and failing to reach out to a population of students who have historically been the victims of harassment and bullying on both a state and local level threatens the district’s ability to be in compliance with State Law and Federal guidance.” We respectfully disagree with Mr. Wells on two fronts. No where in the DASA legislation is it imperative for a district to post these rainbow stickers. As a matter of fact, the legislation does dictate any anti-bullying measures must be age appropriate. We believe the parents and residents of our district should decide whether these rainbow stickers are age-appropriate for 13- and 14-year-old children. Secondly, it is clear the district has strayed from its original interpretation of the rainbow flag (again, which they argued represented all victims of harassment) as reflected by Mr. Wells’ response.

The administration deems the special emphasis on the LGBTQ community, as opposed to the other victims of bullying, on the notion that they experience more bullying than other victims. However, the district’s own DASA presentation in November revealed that “the most common form of bullying was based on physical appearance (i.e. body size, height, weight, facial features, etc.).” This begs several questions: Why aren’t these students afforded special status as a harassed sub-group of students? Where is their sticker? Furthermore, what is the litmus test for the district when designating certain sub-groups of students as a “…specific concern behind the DASA legislation?”

As taxpayers of the district and parents of very young children, we are very disappointed with the district’s very haphazard and muddled approach to this sensitive issue. It is beyond reproach that the BOE members were unaware of the rainbow stickers and, just as important, the community’s input was excluded. We expect a lot more transparency from our district. We are also quite concerned about the direction the district is headed. The protection from harassment afforded the specific LGBTQ community has already morphed into a level of exposure to issues of sexuality that we as parents are not comfortable with.

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