The Oak Park Area Lesbian and Gay Association, or “OPALGA,” applauds Oak Park Elementary School District 97 for its quick response to a recent Web posting criticizing Beye School for a presentation made several months ago by a representative of the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance. [Beye’s gay friendliness under attack, News, Jan. 20] The mission of the alliance is to promote safety, support and healthy development for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) youths.
In hosting the presentation, Beye School was recognizing the ongoing need to educate the community – specifically parents, guardians and school staff – about the challenges facing LGBT youths, as well as children of LBGT parents. In providing this type of community education, Beye School is simply responding to the needs of the diverse that it serves.
Oak Park has a long history of diversity, which OPALGA strongly supports and encourages. OPALGA supports both past and future efforts by Beye School or other local schools in ensuring that students learn the value of diversity and the need to respect individuals who might otherwise be singled out as “different” because of their sexuality or the sexuality of their parents.
I have never spoken with Laurie Higgins, but I am the Beye parent who read and co-authored the statement of dissent at the Beye School PTO meeting.
Our issues are local, and with the inappropriate content of the Illinois Safe Schools program at the kindergarten through fifth grade level. The main points of our dissent are:
1. Our present anti-bullying programs (PBIS and STAND) are sufficient to equip our teachers and children on how to address any unfortunate occurrence of negative language. We do not need to spend precious time and money on three in-services from Illinois Safe Schools.
2. We have fabulous, hard-working teachers who are amazing. We do, however, still have a negligible achievement gap between white children and African-American children. Perhaps an in-service addressing this issue is a better use of time and money.
3. The LGBT topic is one of morality, preferences and opinions that vary greatly. We unequivocally disagree with the topic of homosexuality being introduced, taught to, shared with or discussed with our K-5 children in the public classroom. We have a loving community where LGBT and non-LGBT families get along great and respect each other.
Submitted to WednesdayJournalOnline.com