Some residents in Utah County, a scary place if you’ve ever been, just can’t bear to see innocent children go to Art City Elementary School every day while signs promoting messages of tolerance — in a faulty albeit well-meaning attempt to battle gay suicides — remain posted to a neighbor’s fence. The school has been receiving “boatloads” of phone calls, says Lana Hiskey of the Nebo School District (and the executive director of the Nebo Education Foundation). The district “is very concerned about the content of the signs and it’s not (that) his beliefs are different from other peoples,” says Hiskey. “It’s that the content on the signs is adult in nature.” Hah!
The signs, posted by local resident Leonard Ridley and facing the school’s playground, came about after he learned of the rash of gay suicides. He wanted to send a message to “contradict the mistaken ideas” that local bigots have. Ridley’s 10-year-old step-granddaughter, who attends Art City Elementary, was called into the school’s office and “harassed,” says Ridley; the school insists it was just checking to see if she felt safe at the school.
All the controversy (hah!) meant a city code enforcement officer was dispatched to the scene — ultimately declaring the signs don’t violate local code, but they are too large, so Ridley will rotate through the signs. How about adding a new one, just for Ms. Hiskey? “Bigots aren’t born bigots. You can change!”