As a Beye School parent for eight years, I was disappointed to see the school portrayed in such a negative light in Margaret Brown’s letter. [After snafu, Beye less tolerant to some, Viewpoints, Feb. 17] Beye is one of the most tolerant and welcoming places I’ve ever encountered. The school is like a family – my family – and as such, I feel the need to set the record straight.
I attended the PTO meeting to which Brown refers. What I witnessed that evening was an audience that listened respectfully to her “statement of dissent.” The “derogatory remarks” and “room full of laughter” that she described were not in evidence at the meeting I attended. As she read her statement, one could hear the proverbial pin drop in the room. The silence was punctuated only by the high school boy (a brave soul who earlier stood up in front of 100 adults and described his experiences in coming out as gay) running from the room sobbing, obviously in searing pain at what Brown said. I can’t imagine how much more tolerant our school could be of a “dissenting opinion.” When Brown finished, there was dead silence in the room, and certainly no laughter.
Her letter takes a decidedly political view of the situation, making it sound as if Beye is a hotbed of political debate on this topic. In fact, the only person I have heard politicize the discussion is Brown herself. The Illinois Safe Schools Alliance was brought in to consult with Beye when a student was taunted because he has two moms. I applaud our School Improvement Team, principal and administration for taking proactive steps to demonstrate that such bullying is unacceptable. I am saddened that Brown was able to brush aside this student as not being important enough to deserve such attention. As parents we know that, even when it’s “only” one child who is bullied, if it’s your child, it means everything to you, and it is not tolerable.
Nor was it tolerable to see a high school student run crying out of the building as Brown read her statement. Perhaps she is not aware that young people who are discovering that they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender are more likely to consider, attempt and succeed at committing suicide because of such teasing and intolerance. It is a problem we cannot ignore. The lives of our children are at stake.
Beye School is exactly what parents would want for their child – a stimulating environment made possible by creative, energetic, caring teachers and staff who regularly go the extra mile to make every child’s experience the best it can be. Year in and year out, Beye’s principal and its teachers have demonstrated the utmost level of professionalism in doing a very challenging job. They have enriched and touched the lives of my children and family in ways that they will never know. My children are privileged to have received their education at Beye, and we will always be grateful.
Laurie Myers is an Oak Park resident and the parent of a fourth grader at William Beye Elementary School and a seventh grader at Percy Julian Middle School.