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I delayed a week putting this on my Web so that the Lafayette Parish School Board could first receive my actual letter via postal mail.
6 December 2003
Lafayette Parish School System
P. O. Drawer 2158
Lafayette, LA 70502-2158
For eight years, I served as an elected member of the School Board of the Oak Park Unified School District in California, one of the finest school systems — public or private — in the United States. The Oak Park USD has been in existence for 25 years. Never has there been an incident similar to what you are experiencing with respect to young Marcus McLaurin.
According to at least one report, Marcus was disciplined because he described to another student his family situation, that his mother is in a gay relationship with another woman. In a report to Marcus's mother, his teacher said that he
Students talk about their family situations at all ages. They describe divorce, unmarried parents, and their single-parent homes. No child is responsible for his parents or for creating his family situation, and therefore no child should be made to feel ashamed of his family. Describing his mother as in love with another women was no cause for Marcus to be disciplined.
When I was a school board member, our first priority was to do what is best for children. You should do the same. I suggest the School Board formally apologize to Marcus, his mother, and his mother's companion. Further, any record of this incident should be removed from your files.
The Associated Press reports that a teacher at Ernest Gallet Elementary School thinks "gay" is a bad word. My daughter Heather is gay, and she is a school teacher. With two bachelor degrees — one in journalism and one in education — Heather is now studying for a master degree in education. I am very proud of her accomplishments and ambition. She is a caring, concerned individual with high standards of integrity and morality. Being gay is not necessarily bad, and "gay" is not a bad word. No teacher or school administrator should be allowed to make Marcus feel as if his mother were somehow foul merely because of her innate feelings. If the AP report is true, you really need to discipline the teacher and not the student.
Do the right thing! Too many laws are written because not enough individuals will.
David E. Ross
Besides the personal reason (my daughter Heather), there are other reasons why I — a "straight" man — am concerned about gay rights.
15 December 2003
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