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Gay-Straight Alliance Club Approved for Seaford High School

Board of Education approves after school program thanks donation by community resident.

A Gay -Straight Alliance (GSA) Club has been approved for thanks to a donation from a community resident.

The Seaford Board of Education voted unanimously at its Thursday night meeting to allow the formation of Seaford High School’s first GSA Club for the remainder of the 2011-12 school year. The school board also approved a $683.50 donation from Susan Ruona that will pay for the club’s advisor.

Ruona was motivated to help jumpstart a GSA in Seaford after her son Scott and other openly gay students at the high school were unsuccessful last year in a petition drive to launch the club due to a lack of funding in the district. Scott Ruona graduated Seaford last year and while he is now attending Georgetown University, his mother decided it was important to step forward with initial funding for a GSA because of the need she saw for it last year from many of her son’s friends.

“I view this differently than a club,” said Ruona during Thursday’s school board meeting prior to the GSA being approved. “I view it more as a wellness or awareness program.”

Ruona attended the first Long Island Gay Parents-Teachers Association meeting on Nov. 2 at the new  in Garden City where a main topic of conversation was the importance of having GSA clubs in schools. Other nearby Long Island districts that have approved GSAs in their high schools include Plainedge, Levittown, Garden City and Valley Stream.

Some broad goals that the Seaford students wrote in their petition for the new GSA include:

  • To create an alliance of students committed to reducing harassment and bullying.
  • To combat the negative affects of exclusion.
  • Encourage and support tolerance, acceptance and positive relations among all students.

The Seaford Board of Education approval of a GSA comes as a new state law called the Dignity for all Students Act gets set to take effect in July that requires New York districts to formally address bullying in their curriculum.

“Having an active GSA in your high school or other schools fits right into everything that is in the new laws and regulations related to the Dignity for all Students Act," said Seaford Superintendent of Schools Brian Conboy.

Ruona and other Seaford residents urged the school board at Thursday’s meeting to fund the GSA in next year’s budget and not rely on a donation from the community. The Seaford School District is operating on a contingency budget this year after voters rejected proposed spending plans last and .

“I thank Susan for funding this but I would also say that this should be something that the school funds next year and not have to count on a resident to do it,” Russ Klein said.

“I think this will do a lot to bring awareness and understanding among the students," Maureen Canter said. 

“Every time I hear a child killing himself, hanging himself, shooting himself… it breaks my heart,” said Ruona referring to how many gay teenagers get bullied and resort to suicide. “If this would even help one kid, it’s money so well spent.”

Susan February 05, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Tarallos Lover - I really don't understand your comment. Chris and Long Islander - I understand your objection to the GSA being called a "club". I stated at the board meeting that i don't really consider this a "club" either, but that is how they set it up. LI, I agree with you people are entitled to their religious beliefs. The GSA is not trying to change anyone's religious beliefs. However, just as you would want people to respect your religious beliefs, other beliefs deserve respect also. The students requested a GSA, this year and last, so apparently they feel there is a need for this. "Straight" students signed the petition for the GSA also. Thankfully there are accepting students out there.
Lorraine DeVita February 06, 2012 at 03:53 AM
Children learn at an early age tolerance, acceptance and inclusion from their parents. If we as a whole accept the individual for what they are first anfd foremost : a human being - then we are all better for it. Fear & ingnorance breeds intolerence and exclusion. These are KIDS who are braver then you or I for it is probably VERY hard for ANYONE regardless of age stand up and say : I am different please accept me for WHO I am. That takes guts and courage. Thats hard for an adult to do never mind a kid. If your kid was gay what would YOU do? Would you not want people to look beyond the label and look at the PERSON,look at WHO your kid was not the label attached to them? Bravo to the students & their parents of all the students who join & support this organization ..THEY are looking at the Person... not the label. Gay isnt a disease, it nots "catchy"
Lorraine DeVita February 06, 2012 at 04:09 AM
Ok so if I read you correctly, A) your against this "type of Alliance" B) You doubt that teenagers straight or gay have the potential to be more open minded then their parents..more tolerant C) you doubt parents have the sensibiltiy to see that senseless bullying is something that needs to be addressed regardless of the reason why people are being bullied. D) you dont seem to feel that people who have different beliefs have the intelligence, compassion or respect to come together to try to understand each others point of view.etc. IF thats the case and a majority of people feel the same way you do, then you and the rest of your ilk are mired in the persecutorial prejudices of the 50's ..I guess all people with alternative lifestyles, different colored skins, different religious beliefs,different special needs, the too fat, the too skinny, the kid with big ears or acne should stand in the back of the bus also? BTW you cant CATCH gay its not a disease, or werent you aware of that? AND as a parent if you dont know WHAT clubs your kids are involved in then perhaps the "parent "should be more involved and intouch with WHAT their kid is doing rather then self involved or worse indifferent.
Long Islander February 06, 2012 at 04:24 AM
It's a sexual orientation club! Period! That is truly what it is! Bullying and holding classes for respect the person, should be handled by school officials- not by kids in a club! If all parents knew what their kids were doing every second of the day, so many would not have STD's, Drinking and Drug problems! Even those parents that are involved and intouch with what their kids are doing, don't always know everything! You hope and pray they always make GOOD Choices, but in life nothing is guaranteed!
t1956d February 06, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Federal law requires a school to allow a Bible Club, etc, so long as the school also allows other non curriculum clubs.
Lorraine DeVita February 06, 2012 at 02:23 PM
PERHAPS you and yours need to attend a meeting to see what this "club" is about and meet some of these kids both straight and gay THEN decide to condem it on facts not perceived prejudices. Look PAST the label, past the preconceived BS and truly look at the person then tell me what is or isnt worth it.// As a human being , a mother, a CATHOLIC and a friend if someone i knew decided they felt the need to tell me they were gay, my GUT reaction would be " So ,that doesnt change WHO you are so how can i support you" Maybe my reaction is different from yours because having worked with a wide variety of individuals across the globe in my professional career , I realize people come in all shapes, sizes and "orientations". doesnt mean they should be ostrized or judged becasue of them, it just means they should be accepted for who they are and how they do their job.
t1956d February 06, 2012 at 02:38 PM
You're take on "religion" clubs is incorrect. If a school permits any student led and run groups it must allow all such groups, even religious one. (see 20 U.S.C. 4072-4074). The law is limited to student groups, not outside groups.
Long Islander February 06, 2012 at 03:11 PM
As a Catholic, you do realize that living the homosexual lifestyle is a mortal sin? This means a true break in your realtionship with God because you have willfully gone against his commandments? Are you encouraging that to our children? I am not being prejudice about this. I realize everyone is different, but if you are Catholic, like you say, then you know that God is not in accordance with this type of a lifestyle. I don't think the school should have allowed this club, under these pretenses. My opinion! And Chris is right, what clubs are next? Maybe the 1950's were not so bad after all! You could send your child to school and they would learn reading, writing, and arithmetic. They wouldn't recieve condoms in school or have outside organizations provide programs that you as a parent are not in agreement with. When you turned on the tv or the radio, you didn't worry about sexual inappropriate programs being rammed down everyone's throat! Maybe you should ask your Pastor about the teachings of the Catholic faith and what his opinion is about childen sitting around discussing and possibly encouraging this lifestyle. These issues are things that should be discussed at home with their parents and spiritual director.
Diane Stephan February 06, 2012 at 03:49 PM
How did we ever survive school without all these "clubs"?
Lorraine DeVita February 06, 2012 at 05:35 PM
I am not getting into theological discussions here so my final comments are: God loves ALL his children. God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai to serve as principles of moral behavior for the human race. The Ten Commandments of God are the foundation of the moral code and legal system of justice for Western Christian civilization. The ten commandments do not include , thou shalt not be gay- And for the sanctimonious I would wager HEAVILY that EVERY practicing Catholic VIOLATES those same ten commnaments on a regular basis by CHOICE. Unfortunately "gay" isnt a choice it IS an ACT of GOD, IF you follow the premise that the Miracle of GOD created EACH of us.. Hypocrocy at is best is sometimes found in the most hallowed of places. Created by MAN because of their bias and ignorance. Again my final comment on this entire thread.
Long Islander February 06, 2012 at 07:09 PM
You skirted the whole issue in your last comment. Now we are talking about CHOICE? Don't run for the reall issue...you are creating a club to have children sit around and talk about their sexual problems with each other, but they don't have a moral guide in the discussions! These are still kids who still need guidance. Even the Alcoholic support groups have moral guides to lead the the groups past their problems and they include God in their healing talks as well. How is this club helpful to the spirtual welfare of the child without guidance and the building of character and virtue from parents, spiritual directors, and those trained in this? You are opening these kids up to more trouble and deeper problems doing it this way. I for one, don't want my tax dollars used for this and the school board should not have permitted this to happen! Thank you for the discussion.
Lorraine DeVita February 06, 2012 at 07:48 PM
I challenge you to make that call to the SD then come back here and post the FACTS..
Lorraine DeVita February 06, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Ok possilby NOt my final post on this thread.lol.. A) not being an ALCHOLIC i wouldnt know what the process is during a "meeting" /"discussion" Obviously you seem very well versed in the process.. so you must have first hand knowledge and kudoes to you for acknowledging you or someone you know has a problem.. B) this has nothing to do with the SPIRUTAL welfare of anyone- C_)Before you condemn ANYONE or ANYTHNING on HERSAY perhaps you should inquire about exactly WHAT this ALLIANCE is about how it will be conducted, mentored monitored etc. Get the FACTS.. and stop flying around on your holier then thou broom screaming and wailing we are all going to burn in hell on your tax dollars You will be surprised what you find out with a phone call...right now you are operating that broom in overdrive based on assumption and supposition..with no facts what so ever.
Long Islander February 06, 2012 at 08:19 PM
You don't need to be an Alcholic to know that their meetings have trained professionals there to help them. Haven't you heard their code of conduct! But again you miss the point and throw daggers instead...The point was these support groups use trained professionals to help their clients. I didn't condemn anyone, but worry that this club will make matters worse! This is a group for sexual orientation and the school should not get involved in this.
Chris February 06, 2012 at 09:49 PM
Long Islander, you are right on target. Religious oriented organizations just lost a court battle and are now banned from "renting" space in NYC school buildings. These meetings were held after hours. The organizations paid rent to the NYC schools for use of said facilities. The courts have ordered them to be thrown out. What about those kids? How can they possibly "feel good" about themselves? What about their self esteem? Who fights for them? If there must be a separation of Church and State, I believe that there must be a separation of sexual orientation and State. The feel good warm and fuzzy arguments that people use to support a Gay Straight club are baseless. Everyone wants to feel good about themselves. Everyone needs self esteem. As far as I know our schools have no problem with gay students. And that is as it should be. Why the need for an alliance? Allied against who? Again, I must ask the question.....What happens to a transgender club request? Bi-sexual only clubs? NAMBLA is an organization that exists today to lobby for their civil rights to have sex with underage children. Why can't their members feel good about themselves? What if they want a parade? Where does "tolerance" end. Who decides? This is a dangerous path the school has decided to go down.
Lorraine DeVita February 06, 2012 at 11:11 PM
tolerence NEVER ends . let me make a preconceived assumption, I COULD say your are probably ,a proported good catholic, goes to church, gets drunk and then drives , has had a few discrete but adulterous affairs,is republican and ethicly challenged, has very conservative far right views, curses, uses the lords name in vain, likes the color purple, has a stash of porn, beats your wife every other tuesday nite, cheats on your taxes, mowes your own lawn, has coveted thy neighbors goods ALL of the above is NOT true (atleast i hope it isnt.). BUT all of the above could be an ASSUPMTION on my part because of my perceived view of based onthe little information i have read here. . So .. lets be clear here. I dont know ANYTHING about you or how you live your life etc. if you DONT know what this Alliance is about, havent found out the facts and are jumping the gun based on your own preconceived bias beliefs dont you at least owe it to yourself to find out before you continue to sound like the biggest bigot > I could perceive that, truthfully I DONT, but atleast I am NOT denying you the right to exist and I am being tolerant trying to open a dialog so we come to some form of common ground. And that common ground could be we dont like each other,we dont understand each other, we dont support each other views etc BUT we wont HURT each other and rather then attack verbally we can discuss our love for starbucks coffee and bitch about our school taxes.
SSteacher February 07, 2012 at 02:37 AM
This type of club is about tolerance. Kids who want to be a part of it will be. Others will not, just like every other club. A catholic HS probably would not have such a club, but this is a public school that is dealing with the issues that face our kids everyday. Most importantly, it is not a homosexual only club, it is a club for everyone. It is wonderful to see all types of kids support all other types of kids.
Long Islander February 07, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Every club is about tolerance! You can call this club whatever you like, but it really is a club for sexual orientation, which will run without professionally trained counselors to guide these kids properly! My last comment on this for sure.
Chris February 07, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Lorraine, Should we tolerate everything and everyone with no critical thinking? That is madness! All you can do is criticize and call me names. Why don't we tolerate religion in public schools? A judge decided years ago to keep it out of the schools. It is the law of the land and we will follow it. If a manger was to be erected on the front lawn of a government facility there would be marches and protests. Again, we must ask ourselves how much do we tolerate. NAMBLA ? Transgenders? Where does it end. Your argument is emotional. Just because it feels good does not mean we should do it !
Lorraine DeVita February 07, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Several years ago I had a very honest and emotional conversation with an a young man i had hired, he was absolutely brilliant in his field & he is gay, and his life was hell as a teenager.He comptemplated suicide SEVERAL times to end the abuse and shame and anger . He was tormented repeatedly, his parent shunned him, abandoned him and kicked him out of the house for something HE had no control over. @ 15 he had no home no support , no family, he was taken in by one of his STRAIGHT friends families .. He didint chose to be gay and as he stated he would shout "do you think I WANT to be like this why me?".. He hated himself as much as others did. To hear this young man who was in his late 20's go thru such gut wrenching anguish, and pain is heartbreaking. He finally after YEARS of therapy and support from friends has come to accept what I and others around had been saying . Who you are is not dfiend by your sexuality ITs WHO you ARE as a person, and he is a wonderful , funny kind warm individual who has much success infront him and is probably one of the most sincere giving people I know. TO stop or prevent this from happening to one more kid is the reason why i am so vocal here on this topic. As a parent i am outraged that another parent could turn their back on their own kid becasue of their prejudices, as human being i am outraged that people are tormented , bullied and JUDGED without fact or merit based on social and religious stigmas.
Chris February 07, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Lorraine, You are absolutely right. No person should have to go through that. I have sympathy for anyone who contemplates suicide over their personal life's circumstances. That is a horrible place to be in. It is unfortunate that his parents are that ignorant. All I am saying is that there should be no double standard when it comes to our schools, and there is. No one should be judged for their lifestyle or religious beliefs. All inclusive. After 9-11 I am sure that many Muslim students felt bad about themselves and how they were looked at by other students in their schools. But a Muslim religious club is forbidden by law in our schools. Separation of Church and State. The more we put labels on people and categorize them, the more it seems to split us apart. Black Americans, White Americans, Indian, Gay, Straight etc... Anti Bullying and tolerance should be taught across the board for every student, no matter who you are or lifestyle ! We are all Americans and in this together. Lorraine, I have enjoyed this conversation and exchange of ideas.
Lorraine DeVita February 07, 2012 at 07:45 PM
All i ask is that peole keep an open mind and dont be so quick to judge, because as the saying goes "-there by the grace of god." These are kids after all. love your kids for WHO they are, cherish them support them and make them feel worthy and special and loved ..no child or adult should feel excluded or tormented or driven to the brink because of this .. Chris , an exchange of ideas is always a good.thing! ..
John Rennhack February 08, 2012 at 12:24 AM
Please provide where god says its wrong.
Matt February 16, 2012 at 03:52 PM
This really is'nt a big deal. Yall make it this huge conflict. At my school we have the club, no one really takes opinions on it. If you're interested, then you go. It's a way for people to tolerate and not jump to conclusions. Everyone has their own opinion on the gays and homosexuals, but thats not the point of the club. It just helps kids look past it and accept that there are gay people out there. The longer the club is in existance, the less down the road people will care if you're gay or straight. Y'all need to relax.
Matt February 16, 2012 at 03:54 PM
AND schools are allowed to have religous based clubs. There is a club call Fellowship of Christian Athletes... You go, talk, hang out and end in a prayer. Just thought I'd say that.
Chris Wendt February 16, 2012 at 05:47 PM
It remains to be seen whether Seaford can develop a budget that the voters will pass in May or June. Generally, extracurricular activities (Clubs, etc.) are not cut before the fact by the school district, yet after the fact of a twice-defeated budget, school districts are prone to cut extracurricular activities from the resulting contingent (austerity) budget, subject to their being reinstated through fundraising donations. I have no opinion about the GSA (Club), any more or less than I would have about the Astronomy Club or the FBLA Club. Those activities exist for the students who request them and who support them though their participation and fundraising efforts. While a lot of column space was allotted here for discussion and exchanging ideas, in reality no discussion was warranted. This article was not a poll nor a referndum to approve or disapprove the creation of the Seaford GSA (Club). The school board has already taken the only vote necessary to establish the club and to fund it by accepting the generous donation given to pay for its advisor.
weesie February 17, 2012 at 01:38 PM
really ?? where not in Seaford not in the High School. The school are only begining to talk about such things , due to the new law.
weesie February 17, 2012 at 01:39 PM
do not worry a parent stepped-up and paid for this. Why do you think that these students will sit around and talk about sex. People who are gay have morals. This is the reason we need groups like this, support , to let the kids know you are not alone. This is a group that will give support and education. And to answer why we need these clubs today, maybe it is to give support to children who feel like no one listens to them. Must of the kids are being raised by the media . not the family structure.
Debbie March 09, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Well said Mr. Wendt. As long as the club does not harm or hurt any one person or persons, then students should be allowed to form a club(s). I would also like to say that if we teach our children at home to respect one another than none of this would be an issue. But we will always have those ignorant or blind parents that don't what's going on in their childrens' lives or say "not my child" I will tell this to anyone who chooses ignorant or says "not my child" ... join facebook -friend request your child...they put just about everything on facebook that's going on in their lives...if he or she chooses not to accept your friend request - that's your first clue that something is going on that they don't want you to know about. If he or she chooses to accept your friend request, you can see the what's going on in their lives. As much as I dislike facebook, the good side to it, is that, there is a world of information on your child's facebook page....who they hang with, what happened over the weekend, what happened at school, etc. My husband and I are "friends" on all our childrens facebook. Of course they could have another facebook page that we don't know about, but with a little computer savy...you can find this out through history pages, and the facebook network pages. It's time we that we get educated on what are children are doing these days both in school and on the computer. It's time for parents to take the reins and, once again, be "smarter" than our children.
Paul Schulz May 17, 2012 at 04:10 AM
This whole topic comes down to eternity. Those who disobey the ten commandments and advocate a life style which disobeys the ten commandments may be spending their eternity in hell. The ten commandments are written on the hearts of men. God is a merciful God, but he is a just God. Non are so blind as those who (will) not see.

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