GSA’s place in school

Dear Editor:

I’m writing with some facts that I have assembled concerning last week’s letter dealing with the Gay Straight Alliance recently under discussion in these pages.

The Gay Straight Alliance’s Mission Statement reads: The Gay Straight Alliance Network is a national youth leadership organization that connects school based Gay Straight Alliances (GSA) to each other and community resources through peer support, leadership, development and training. GSA supports young people in starting, strengthening and sustaining GSA and builds the capacity of GSA’s to:

1. Create safe environments for students to support each other and learn about homophobia, transphobia and other oppressions,

2. educate school and community about hemophilia, transphobia, gender identity and sexual orientation issues and,

3. fight discrimination, harassment and violence in schools.

That’s it. It’s an organization that exists to help teenagers deal with some really complex problems and to give them a safe place to be themselves and, one would hope, a safe haven in what can be a threatening and hostile environment.

The writer of last week’s letter quoted a number of “authorities” to back up the statements that were made and as I was curious, I researched the authorities and the research.

John Harvey OSFS turns out to be The Reverend John Harvey, a well-respected and now deceased priest from the Franciscan Order who spent much of his life dealing with homosexual priests. Because of his study and countless hours spent counseling those priests he had a knowledge of homosexuality from both outside and inside. His compassion was extraordinary and he in no way condemned homosexuality across the board. His concern was with those who could not come to terms with and control their proclivity. He drew a sharp distinction between “deep seated homosexual tendencies and transitory same sex attractions.” He felt that homosexuals should be accepted and loved as children of God, but they should not act on their orientation. He co-founded “Courage,” a spiritual support group to assist men and women with same sex attractions in living chaste lives in fellowship. He accurately presented Catholic teachings and position on the subject of homosexuality, but acknowledged the importance of support groups for homosexuals, transsexuals or those with gender identification issues.

Also quoted was Robert R. Reilly, who as it turns out is a former advisor to Presidents Reagan and Bush and an expert in military matters, among others, who just this year published a book on homosexuality in which he claims that “gay people are worse than murders who at least feel remorse for their crimes” which may make him wrong on two counts in one sentence.

Ismond Rosen produced in the year 2000 the Third Edition of Sexual Deviation, which is the leading international reference on sexual deviation. It is the major reference for anyone dealing with any type of sexual deviancy engaged in by any one two or more people. The book was way too much to read, but since it is recommended for any and all mental professionals, I would doubt that it is entirely negative toward all sexual deviancies.

Bell, Weinberg and Hammersmith, writing in Sexual Deviancies, come to the conclusion that homosexuality and heterosexuality have a biological basis. Their major work was done in the 1970s and faced major criticism according to Wikopedia.

Also quoted in the article were John Ankerberg and John Weldon. I found that they are somewhat controversial. Although they themselves insist that their academic training and degrees qualify them to critique the faith of the Latter Day Saints, it has been very difficult to figure out what degrees Dr. Ankerberg and Dr. Weldon have and what sort of education they received. So obviously their work had more to do with the Mormon faith than with an academic examination, of dubious authenticity of the basis for homosexuality.

Last week’s letter also make reference to Dr. Kevin Fenton of the CDC, a man well respected in his field. The writer stated, “He has laid the blame for the HIV epidemic squarely on the two most obvious practices of homosexual sex…” with the implication that HIV is a homosexual disease. In 1989, 1990 and 1991 when I was doing HIV Awareness classes for the Worcester County (MD) high schools, one of the most important pieces of information we gave to the students was that it is not. It is a disease just as easily contracted and transmitted by heterosexuals. The two practices named in last week’s letter can also be heterosexual in nature.

So what then do I have to say? Only this: homosexuality and transsexuality and gender issues are nothing to “man the walls over.” Each of these conditions exist, and exist in the lives of some of our teenagers. If the school is helping to provide a place that will give kids a chance to feel safe, to try to sort out their feelings, where they won’t be teased or attacked, then, we should support the Principal and all others involved. I had two male friends growing up. They were caught by one of their fathers trying to engage in a homosexual act. One of them committed suicide his first year in college and I’ve always believed it was because in the early ‘60s there was no place for him to turn. The other went on to become a loving husband and father. If you think back, high school was a pretty scary place for most of us, at least some of the time.

Second; make a careful distinction between homosexuality and pedophilia. They are not the same. All John Deere’s are tractors but not all tractors are John Deere’s. Pedophiles are detested by heterosexuals and homosexuals alike.


Lanny Howe

Lewisburg and Alderson

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