VALLEY STREAM, N.Y. — Valley Stream South High School students will soon have their own Gay/Straight Alliance, despite the fact that their principal has rejected the effort, said bullying wasn’t a big deal, and admitted to calling people “faggots” herself — but didn’t mean anything by it.
Students, who have been trying to form a GSA at the school since October 2010, have had their proposal rejected by the school’s principal Maureen Henry, despite following proper procedures, according to the Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth (LIGALY) group.
When talking about why the club was important and sharing their own personal experiences of being bullied, including being called a “faggot”, Ms. Henry told the students that she too called people “faggots” when she was young and didn’t mean anything bad by it.
Joseph Kofler, 17, one of the students organizing the club was shocked by the reaction, lack of support, and felt Ms. Henry’s response was an endorsement of the bullying that takes place everyday in his school.
David Kilmnick, CEO of LIGALY, called Henry’s response “appalling and homophobic,” and said the Principal displayed a “lack of awareness of the rampant bullying and suicides that have been taken place and garnering attention in the past year.”
But after students persisted and contacted the school’s interim Superintendent, Dr. Richard Marsh, and other district officials, Marsh announced that after meeting with Henry, the two agreed to allow students to start the club this week.
Marsh said Henry had offered the students the opportunity to join the World of Differences club for the remainder of the school year, but the students rejected that plan, according to the Long Island Herald.
“I understand the Gay-Straight Alliance, they want their own identity,” Marsh said.
“This school really needs a GSA and not because it’s a ‘gay club’. In fact it’s the opposite of our goals, which is to bring about understanding and acceptance for all of our students,” said Kofler. “And I want to feel safe coming to school everyday and this club will help toward reaching these goals.”
Kofler said that there is a meeting after school on Thursday, but administrators were not referring to it as a Gay-Straight Alliance.