How devastating that any student should not feel safe, protected, and validated in school because of their sexual orientation ("Looking for Allies," November 23). Students must be respected as individuals.
How unconscionable that faculty members do not act aggressively against verbal abuse and harassment. And it is bewildering that faculty members don't have enough self-esteem to serve as advisors to GSA clubs without fearing that their colleagues will question their sexual orientation.
Any teacher who called a student "Gay-lord" or otherwise harassed a student must be fired.
Joshua Arpon's statement, "Discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation shouldn't be tolerated, just as racial discrimination shouldn't be tolerated," should be included in each school's mission statement.
Judy Wilson, Pittsford-Palmyra Road, Fairport
Tim Macaluso's cover story "Looking for Allies" (November 23) was an excellent survey of LGBT organizations, sexual orientation issues in public schools, and how people deal with those issues. It was an honest and careful examination, and I forwarded the article to a number of my friends.
However, I live in Georgia, and if you did a contrasting article on this subject, you'd find a radically different attitude. While schools in and around Atlanta may have LGBT organization and policies, outside of the immediate metro area many public high schools have virtually no support systems for LGBT students, and such systems come with such a stigma that they serve little purpose other than to create more discrimination in the schools.
Your article shows that such occurrences aren't always the case, and it is reassuring to know that.
Noel Kirkpatrick, Douglasville, Georgia
Reflecting on the article describing prejudice faced by students who are gay or lesbian ("Looking for Allies," November 23), I was struck by the memory of a good man who tried to help me about 10 years ago while I was going through some very difficult, painful times. He said he had one thing he wanted to tell me and to let it guide how I live my life, because one day he would no longer be around to try to guide me. Out of love, I want to share it with all students. He said, "If you can't do something out of love, then don't do it, and if you can't say something out of love, then don't say it."
I was blessed to have my friend, the Reverend Samuel McCree, share these very wise words with me. To them I would add the following: life is not easy for most of us. We have a lot of pain and hurt from the past that we carry with us every day. So if you do not have enough love inside of your heart and soul, and cannot accept another human being for who and what they are, then at least don't add to their hurt and pain and suffering.
Stewart Epstein, Westside Drive, Ogden
Lawrence Britt's response to the various letters criticizing our recent "Toward a New Enlightenment" conference is excellent (The Mail, November 23), but I wish to clarify a claim that both he and the Rev. Eugene Roberts challenged: namely, that in the 20th century the world came to the "brink of peace."
Yes, it's true that the 20th century was one full of wars, many of which, as Mr. Britt correctly points out, were irrationally motivated by religious and ideological hatred. The 20th century, however, saw the emergence of international institutions and unparalleled international cooperation, that saw the peaceful unification of a war-torn Europe, as well as the growth of regional treaty organizations and the UN as potential instruments of peace.
Notice, however, that being on the brink of something, with the tools and institutions available for its accomplishment, does not mean it has been accomplished. The rise of Christian and Islamic fundamentalism and the clash of cultures we now witness threaten to undo those institutions, with the crisis in Mesopotamia and the Middle East being a dramatic example of how rational institutions and progress are once again thwarted by religious prejudice.
David R. Koepsell, Buffalo (Koepsell is executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism.)
Re Harold Jewell's letter "Males, Bashed?" (The Mail, November 16): Hey, lighten up! We're men! Remarks by a few female chauvinists should roll off our backs just like the water off the proverbial duck. Let's not get into taking ourselves too seriously. We shall overcome!
William M. Urquhart, Community Manor Drive, Rochester
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