Three Valley Stream South High School students say they have been denied in their attempt to start a chapter of the Gay-Straight Alliance at the school, and have reached out to district administration.
The students, Joseph Kofler, Kelly Egan and Sam Seligman, say they approached Principal Maureen Henry with the idea and even presented her with a petition signed by several hundred students as well as some teachers. They say Henry has turned them down and rejected their choice for advisors.
According to district administrators, there was a Gay-Straight Alliance Chapter at South High School two years ago, but only had a few members and was not an active club. The three students said this is true, but also noted that they believe the organization will be more successful a second time around. Kofler said at least 30 people have expressed interest in joining the organization, both gay and straight.
The organization would serve as an advocacy and support group for students, Kofler said. And, as the name suggests, it would be open to both gay and straight students who want to come together to support the school’s gay community.
"We did everything right,” Egan said in terms of applying to be a student club. “The club is already in the district. North [High School] has it. I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to promote tolerance and safety.”
The three seniors say they are concerned for the safety of gay students. Kofler said he has been bullied since ninth grade when he first came out, and said he has only gone to a school official once or twice. Rather, he said, students want to be able to look for support among each other.
Seligman, who is not gay, said he has been friends with Kofler for a long time and doesn’t understand why being gay is something to bully someone over. “It just doesn’t make sense to me,” he said.
The students sent a letter to interim Superintendent Dr. Richard Marsh, assistant superintendents Dr. Thomas Troisi and Bill Heidenreich and Board of Educaiton President Ken Cummings expressing their dissatisfaction with the situation and outlining their conversations with Henry.