Oasis

News - December 1995

Poster in school raises support, condemnation

By Al Kielwasser
GLAAD San Francisco

This month, the Denver School Board heard arguments for and against plans to display an informational poster in the district's 10 high schools. The poster advises queer and questioning youth that they may contact the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Community Services Center of Colorado. Students would be provided with additional assistance from school counselors.

In most classrooms across the nation, an informational vacuum deprives and degrades lesbian and gay youth. Textbooks either ignore or demean homosexuality. Teachers seldom challenge homophobic harassment. Students are left to fears rather than facts, torment instead of tolerance. Testifying before the Denver School Board, one parent described this climate as a "wall of silence."

Certainly, hanging a simple poster on that wall of silence is the LEAST a school might do. However, even that modest act has come under fire. According to the "Rocky Mountain News," several parents have criticized the poster's message as "an intrusion on families," an assault on the "true authority of parents," and "an improper role for the district."

The staunchest opposition has come from Focus on the Family, a Colorado-based group of heterosexual supremacists. In a letter to school board members, James Dobson, president of Focus on the Family, said: "The poster's intent is clear: It is meant to promote same-sex romance among teens."

Both the district's director of student services, John Leslie, and superintendent, Irv Moskowitz seem supportive. Moskowitz told parents he understood "the horrors" gay students often face in silence. "We will be on guard," he told parents of gay children, "You've certainly touched us."


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