This letter is in response to statements made by State Representative Dan Gordon that recently appeared on the website. Specifically, Mr. Gordon was commenting on an article concerning a Tiverton High School student’s effort to start a Gay-Straight Alliance.
Mr. Gordon stated, “and this is why if I have anything to say about it, Tiverton will lose school funding to local charter schools. It doesn’t matter if gay or straight, if sexual meet-up groups are being promoted in our schools rather than improving test scores, that school is failing. Is it really more important for our children to get ‘sexed-up’ than learning advanced math?”
I do not normally respond to idle comments that are critical of the Tiverton School Department, its students or employees. However, Mr. Gordon’s biased and ill-informed statements compel me to respond.
First, any attempt by high school students who want to form a support group that will encourage students to address social diversity is a positive thing. Unfortunately, we too frequently hear news stories about incidents involving student bullying and violence in our high schools across the country. Thankfully, the students, staff and administration at Tiverton High School have taken a proactive approach in trying to improve the learning environment throughout the school. Tiverton High School students and staff have formed numerous groups such as the Peer Helping Network, the Tiverton Prevention Coalition and Students Against Destructive Decisions (S.A.D.D.) all of which have provided support to our students which in turn has created a safe learning environment at Tiverton High School by affording students an appropriate avenue to meet and discuss concerns that they must deal with on a regular basis. The formation of the Tiverton Gay-Straight Alliance will only help to promote acceptance and diversity among our students.
Mr. Gordon’s implication that students who might attend a meeting to get “sexed up” is completely ludicrous and shows Mr. Gordon’s ignorance as to the intent of this group. It also demonstrates his personal prejudices towards individuals who are not like him. Before making his comments, maybe Mr. Gordon should have spoken with representatives from the high school regarding the intent of this group. At least Mr. Gordon would have had the “facts” as opposed to making “ignorant” and unsubstantiated claims.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Miss Martin for taking the initiative to form a support group for her fellow students. I also want to thank Mr. Peter Forrest who volunteered to serve as a mentor to Miss Martin in establishing the Gay-Straight Alliance at Tiverton High School.
Finally, I also take issue with Mr. Gordon’s comments “that school is failing”(this is how the quote appeared on the web site). What is the basis for this comment? Tiverton High School recently met its Annual Yearly Progress criteria for the 2010-11 school year which is required under No Child Left Behind. Tiverton High School students scored above the state average on all three of the NECAP assessments that were administered in the fall of 2010. Again, I would suggest that Mr. Gordon “do his homework” before he makes any further comments regarding Tiverton High School and or the Tiverton School Department.
William J. Rearick
Tiverton Superintendent of Schools