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The Long Island High School Principal Who Doesn’t Want ‘Faggots’ To Have A GSA (Update: They’ll Get It)

Students ask school administrators to let them form a gay-straight alliance. Administrators say no. Sound familiar? Except this isn’t some Catholic school district in Canada; it’s a public school in Long Island. And Sam Seligman, Kelly Egan, and Joseph Kofler (pictured L-R) say the principal at Valley Stream South High School, Maureen Henry, has refused their requests to start a GSA. Because she used to call kids “faggots” too. Uh! So now they’re going to her bosses. UPDATE: The GSA has been approved by the superintendent.

While Valley Stream, a combined junior- and senior- high school, had a GSA as recently as two years ago, it stumbled along with minimal membership. But Kofler, Egan, and Seligman says they’ve got at least 30 students, both straight and gay, who say they’re interested in joining. They’ve also got “several hundred students” who signed a petition supporting the organization’s formation.

So why are the kids being denied a GSA?

“We did everything right,” says Egan about applying for formal recognition. “The club is already in the district [which has two other schools]. North [High School] has it. I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to promote tolerance and safety.” For realz. Especially when you’ve got a gay student like Kofler, who says he’s been bullied since he came out in ninth grade. Oh, and KIDS KILLING THEMSELVES because going to school every day is not education, but torture. Except those concerns fell on Henry’s deaf ears, the students claim; she told them back when she was young she called kids “faggots,” but it wasn’t a cruel thing to do.

So the trio of students (which includes Seligman, who is straight) are going up the chain of command, penning a letter to Superintendent Dr. Richard Marsh, assistant superintendents Dr. Thomas Troisi and Bill Heidenreich, and Board of Educaiton President Ken Cummings. Marsh has responded that he’s going to look into the matter and meet with Principal Henry about it. So that’s a start.

But it shouldn’t have to be this hard. The creation of GSAs should be something school administrators encourage, not get in the way of. Far too often adult education professionals, like plenty of others, confuse gay-straight alliances or any talk of sexuality with sex. But that’s not what GSAs are about, at least not specifically. They are about fostering a greater sense of community among disparate student “cliques” that might otherwise butt heads.

Here’s hoping this story turns out like Jason Osmanski’s. In the meantime, you can reach Principal Henry at 516-791-0310.


UPDATE: Interim Superintendent Dr. Richard Marsh has approved the GSA after, he says, he met with Principal Henry and they agreed to let students form the group. “I believe in this, and so does the principal.” I mean, the principal does not believe in it, clearly. But what else are they going to say? “Hopefully they’ll get a good turnout,” says Marsh, who won’t be able to provide funding to the group until the next school year, as the extracurricular budget has already been set.

By:           Ryan Tedder
On:           Jan 20, 2011
Tagged: , , , , , , , ,
  • 37 Comments
    • Phoenix
      Phoenix

      There is nothing to fear but fear itself.

      Jan 20, 2011 at 11:15 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Andy
      Andy

      And asshole administrators.

      Jan 20, 2011 at 12:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • nsomniac
      nsomniac

      Proud of these kids for making a stand !!! I wish we had GSA’s when I was a kid I’m sure all of my friends would have joined!

      Jan 20, 2011 at 12:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Leslie
      Leslie

      Here’s more info from Long Island advocacy group. Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth: http://ligaly.org/news.php?i=167

      Jan 20, 2011 at 12:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Davey Wavey's Vagina Monologue
      Davey Wavey's Vagina Monologue

      Schools can’t stop the kids from meeting up and having their own after school club or just plain group of friends which is what most of these kids need anyway.

      Personally I always found the alliance thing intimidating and saw it as a way to out myself(which I didn’t want) so I couldn’t bring myself to join.

      A more personal group of friends to hang out with after school would’ve been much better and felt a lot safer.

      Not everything needs to be made into an organization.

      Jan 20, 2011 at 12:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      The Principal told them back when she was young she called kids “faggots,” but it wasn’t a cruel thing to do.

      Yes, and when rappers call women “Bitches” she doesn’t think that is cruel either, when racists call minorities the N-word, Sp**k, Ch**k, etc… she must not think that is cruel either.

      Why oh why do these bigoted school employees keep doing this, we ALL know how this is going to end. The district will either overule or support her. If they support her, the case will go to court and the school will lose and have to pay a lot in legal fees. Can somebody please institute an intelligence test for school administrators so they stop wasting so much of our schools money defending their bigoty?

      Jan 20, 2011 at 2:06 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mike99
      mike99

      I called and spoke with a secretary and informed the high school their refusal of the group has gone national and will not look good for the district. I’m from Detroit, Michigan. She said “we’ll call back later today with the real story.” I’m really interested in what that is.

      Jan 20, 2011 at 2:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Greg on LI
      Greg on LI

      My boyfriend’s a public school teacher in Nassau who helped his students create a GSA at their high school. He faced opposition at first (which eventually died down), but nothing compared to what this article describes. You can bet I’ll be calling Ms. Henry to see if this is all true, and give her a piece of my gay mind.

      Jan 20, 2011 at 2:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Pitou
      Pitou

      @mike99:
      Yes, I called too, and that was the same story I got. I left my name and phone number and highly encouraged the secretary to call me back with the “real story”.

      I also asked her to thank Ms. Henry, as is this does come to be true… this could signal the end of her professional career and lord knows we can all live with one less bigot running our public schools!

      She politely hung up :-)

      Jan 20, 2011 at 2:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Nate
      Nate

      ThIs Principle should start making her resume, because she definitely needs to be fired

      Jan 20, 2011 at 2:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hephaestion
      hephaestion

      Maureen Henry is a disgrace, if all this is true. She has no business running a school. Gay people are tax-payers (moreso than straights) and we pay her salary. She’d better get a clue or it’s toodle-loo.

      Jan 20, 2011 at 3:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Anonymous
      Anonymous

      Why would an administrator say something like “We don’t want faggots to have a GSA” or “I used the word faggot in high school and I didn’t mean it.” Anyone with brains could obviously figure out that these kids are putting words into the principal’s mouth and fabricating the entire idea that the principal even said such words. Haven’t you ever heard of teenagers lying to get what they want?

      Jan 20, 2011 at 5:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • D P
      D P

      You know, back in my younger days we used to call anything with a vagina “bitch” or “cunt”… Nothing bad, nothing harmful about it.. ..its just a couple of words! So why do they need to have a GSA?

      Oh, and what the hell is a cunt doing in the principal’s office? She should be barefoot and pregnant, and cookin my damn supper b’fore I’s a git home!@!!

      DISCLAIMER:

      Incidentally, I apologize to any female I might offend, with exception of course, that Maureen Henry. It was not my intention to focus on anyone else but that narrow minded breeder.

      Jan 20, 2011 at 5:55 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jenny
      Jenny

      @Anonymous: Yes, because all teenagers are liars and all school administrators are competent pillars of society.

      Jan 20, 2011 at 5:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ChrisM
      ChrisM

      Anonymous, the principal did not say that first thing, that is Queerty’s usual exaggerated title. The second comment I don’t know why you’re so quick to dismiss. It sounds as if she was pushing some logic that bullying wasn’t harmful, kids in her day did it all the time. And the principal isn’t even denying she said it, so I don’t see why you are.

      Glad to see they changed their minds. Good luck to the kids.

      Jan 20, 2011 at 5:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • wtf
      wtf

      @Anonymous: oh shut the fuck up you stupid fucking troll. no one cares what you think.

      Jan 20, 2011 at 6:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • chpinnlr
      chpinnlr

      Where can we send donations to fund the group this year?

      Jan 20, 2011 at 9:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DavyJones
      DavyJones

      @Anonymous: You obviously don’t have much experience dealing with public school administrators; Many have a sense of ultimate superiority, and say and do whatever they want under the illusion that no one can/will do anything about it.

      While this case is a notable exception; often the administrators are backed by the School Board, which is how this sense of superiority developed in the first place.

      Jan 20, 2011 at 10:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • thematics
      thematics

      We didnt have a GSA in my school. We had “drama club.” Same idea!!

      Jan 20, 2011 at 10:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Lauren
      Lauren

      i resent the stab at canadians – “some Catholic school district in Canada”. yes, this is the perfect time to compare oppression in the us to that in canada. canada, with it’s universal healthcare and rights entrenched in law for gay people, including being one of the first countries to support gay marriage, is certainly a great site of comparison for a country which still has major problems with segregation, polar laws on abortion and an only recently repealed law that forbid gays from serving in the military. there are very few igloo-living tree-sap drinking bear-hunting bible-thumping canadians left in the 21st century.

      when writing articles to make the public aware of rights being crossed and identities being slandered, please avoid making these mistakes about other groups of people.

      Jan 20, 2011 at 10:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jeffree
      Jeffree

      @Lauren: the article referenced a recent story about a similar story at a school in Canada, not a general potsho.t.
      You can click the link in the article for more details.

      I believe most readers on this site admire Canada’s record on LGBT rights and see how far behind we lag.

      Jan 21, 2011 at 12:57 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Davey Wavey's Vagina Monologue
      Davey Wavey's Vagina Monologue

      Hopefully bad nothing happens to the kids due to any sort of negative attention.

      When your own principle is against you that is a really bad sign. I hope they watch out for each other seriously.

      Jan 21, 2011 at 1:13 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Pat Duffy
      Pat Duffy

      Things generally are better. When I was in highschool I was told to “be a man” by a teacher who came upon me just as a couple of Jocks had just beaten me and broken my glasses. The reason I had tears in my eyes was because they’d been broken while I was wearing them. Like to have seen her ONLY have tears in her eyes after a punch in the face had enough to snap “unbreakable” plastic frames…..

      Jan 21, 2011 at 6:36 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Danny
      Danny

      It is inspiring to see there are some really wonderful straight allies who stand up for their friends and fellow classmates.

      Jan 21, 2011 at 7:36 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Francis
      Francis

      Really great to see so many kids rallying behind such a good and productive cause of unity and respect for all and embracing diversity. But, as we see with the principle essentially dismissing the mere existences of LGBT individuals, I don’t think this is something that is going to happen without some resistance. Hopefully these strong souls remain so, because they are fighting a homophobic establishment, and that ain’t easy.

      Jan 21, 2011 at 10:47 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      @Lauren:

      Oh Get over it, Yeah Yeah Yeah, you’re right, Canada is perfect, everybody holds hands and sings songs and the U.S. is totally evil and segregated…well you know, of course except for the lawsuits against the govt. in Canada by multiple Native Tribes, the attemps in Saskatchewan to oust gay.

      And of course you may want to read your own papers about skyrocketing hate crimes.

      http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/823190–gay-men-targets-of-violence-as-hate-crimes-jump

      So if somebody points out something that happened in Canada as a comparison to something similar here, you may want to realize that not all Americans are completely ignorant about what goes on beyond our boarders. Do you have some fantastic laws up in Canada, yes you do…is everything perfect there? Not by a longshot.

      Jan 21, 2011 at 11:48 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JT
      JT

      Here’s a little secret… many schools already have a GSA, they just don’t know it is one.

      When I was in high school in the early 90’s, all the gay and gay-friendly students joined Amnesty International. It’s a club where you write letters and sign petitions to make government leaders release political prisoners who have not committed any real crimes. Many of these political prisoners are nice gay people who have been captured by the Talibangelicals in whatever God-forsaken nomads land they had the misfortune to be born in. If not gay, it might be a doctor who provided abortions to women who have been raped by militants.

      If your school does not (or will not) have a GSA, ask to form a chapter of Amnesty International instead… It is just like a GSA except you will also be helping a stranger who is being persecuted even worse than you!

      Jan 22, 2011 at 6:21 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • American Patriot
      American Patriot

      This is sorrowful on many levels.

      To use taxpayer money to fund a controversial social agenda in our public schools is not right. The proper place for a Gay-straight alliance should be in a private home or an off-campus location. If not, then why not use taxpayer money to start an on-campus counseling service for youth not interested in following the liberal gay agenda?

      I commend Sam Seligman for remaining heterosexual and not giving into the temptations of homosexuality. However, I am concerned with him being a “straight ally” to such a controversial social agenda. I hope he turns to God and sees the errors of his ways.

      It’s still not too late to turn to God and give up leading a promiscuous homosexual lifestyle. My heart weeps for all of you. I will close my eyes and pray.

      Jan 22, 2011 at 6:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • justiceontherocks
      justiceontherocks

      @American Patriot: What’s osrrowful on many levels is the Fred Phelps spends its time trolling on gay web sites.

      Here’s something from Mick Jagger just for you. Read it, then leave.

      “You call yourself a Christian
      I think that you’re a hypocrite
      You say you are a patriot
      I think that you’re a crock of shit

      How come you’re so wrong
      My sweet neo con….”

      Jan 22, 2011 at 7:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Nate
      Nate

      @American Patriot:
      What’s withnyou showing up on a gay website and preaching gods anti-homosexual word?
      You know there is a word for people like you… Troll.

      Jan 22, 2011 at 9:55 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Hank
      Hank

      @American Patriot: Um, what about being promiscuous? Does STILL being in a happy, monogamous relationship for several years at the age of 21 sound like promiscuity to you?

      Wait, does that mean I was a teenager when it started?!

      So, maybe if we give these kids a place to make them feel comfortable, they might have a chance to develop a healthy relationship with someone of the same gender?

      Craziness!

      Oh, and you should definitely go suck a dick. It’ll give you something better to do than whatever THIS is.

      Jan 22, 2011 at 10:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • American Patriot
      American Patriot

      @Hank: Please read my posting toward the very end of this thread:

      http://www.queerty.com/bryan-safi-answers-the-real-gay-adoption-question-do-you-have-to-like-kids-20110122/

      Thank you.

      Jan 22, 2011 at 11:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • alan brickman
      alan brickman

      No Surpise here…What part of women hate gays don’t people understand??…

      Jan 23, 2011 at 11:27 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Francis
      Francis

      @American Patriot: Obvious troll is obvious.

      Oh, and the person you’re praying to…………is you’re own fucking make-believe fantasy. Go run along and let the adults speak now, thanks.

      Jan 23, 2011 at 1:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tina
      Tina

      American Patriot

      @justiceontherocks: I have a confession to make. Please read on, if you are still reading this blog.

      First, @chpinnlr, I apologize for the comments I made above.

      The truth is that I am a gay man, but I hate myself for being gay. I have been to gay clubs and went to a pride parade last year, but I don’t fit in anywhere. I’m fat and I’m shy, and I don’t look anywhere near as attractive as those guys with ripped chests and muscular arms. I’m still a virgin, but I don’t want to have sex with a lot of guys — I want to be sexually intimate with one guy only. But I don’t even know if that will ever happen.

      I recently came out to my parents last month and they almost disowned me. My father told me that he can’t possibly have a f****t for son, and that I have brought shame to the family. My parents (especially my father) is an ardent conservative & Republican, Tea Party member, and member of the NRA. I have prayed to God so many times to help make me straight that I have lost count. I just hate being part of a group that is subject to so much discrimination & hatred from a lot of society. I don’t know if I’m strong enough to deal with it. About 2 weeks ago, I planned to just end my life. My father moved his guns though, so I didn’t go through with my plans that night.

      I guess I’m just so frustrated & ashamed at myself for being gay. So I just started repeating the kinds of things that my father would say.

      I’m very sorry.

      -Apparently the ol’ dude is self-hating. *gay hug* You’ll be awright.

      Jan 25, 2011 at 2:49 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joseph Kofler
      Joseph Kofler

      Hey to everyone that was in support of our GSA thank you very much. Im Joe Kofler 1/3 of the leaders of the club. It is great to see people support or club. What we did was rite and justified, We were not gonna sit back and take that. Thanks for the love and support and Greg from LI and everyone that called my school to find answers you guys rock. If you have any questions please email me joekof9@aol.com. I hope i hear from all of you guys. Have a great day..
      From
      Joseph Kofler

      Jun 28, 2011 at 4:19 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joseph Kofler
      Joseph Kofler

      @Greg on LI: Greg you rock!!!!! Thanks for being a support of our GSA, and for calling our school demanding answers!
      email me joekof9@aol.com
      thanks for the support and best wishes,
      Joseph Kofler

      Jun 28, 2011 at 4:21 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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