BAY CITY – Bay City Central High School’s Gay Straight Alliance chapter was just formed in November, but it already is involved in a controversy.
A parent complained to the Bay City School Board on Dec. 11 about what she sees as the group’s promotion of the “homosexual lifestyle.”
In a phone interview, Kimberly Bublitz, parent of a freshman at the school, said the issue is “what is appropriate for children.”
“On the surface, they seem to be about promoting tolerance and preventing violence,” the mother of four said. “But when I did research, I found that is not the only thing the GSA does.”
Gay Straight Alliances (GSA) are student-lead groups that encourage tolerance of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. Membership is open to any student in a school with such a group. The group’s national website (http://www.gaystraightalliance.org/) reports there are over 3,500 chapters.
But according to Bublitz, GSAs from other schools encourage members not to tell their parents about their involvement in the group because “parents are homophobic,” and at least one web site, she said, “had information about anal sex.”
Bublitz said she does not want people to misunderstand her. She said she is not against gays. — when someone is 18 they have the right to do what they want, she maintained. But she said she wants people to hear her concerns that the group might be doing more than promoting tolerance and stopping violence.
“I want it to be a safe thing for students,” she said. “I am all for groups that prevent discrimination and violence and hate crimes and hate-related messages. I think in order to have a Gay Straight Alliance, it should focus on prevention of violence and promoting tolerance, not to teach students about homosexual or heterosexual behavior. It should strictly stick to the honorable goal of preventing violence and promoting tolerance in the school setting.”
She said she declined an invitation to join a group that wanted to make the issue about homosexuals. She declined to identify the group or the person who contacted her, adding, “I am not interested in bashing homosexual persons.”
She said she understands that gay kids, or those perceived to be gay, are subjected to harassment daily. She saw it growing up with one of her friends: “I had a very dear friend from elementary school who was gay and we knew it from when he was little. People picked on him and I defended him.”
That friend, she said, committed suicide at age 30.
School board members did not return emails seeking comment for this article. However, in the Dec. 11 Bay City Times, Marie McFarland, board president, said she could not fault the creation or the goals of the GSA. “I’m here to advocate for all kids,” she said.
And Superintendent Carolyn Wierda told the Bay City Times the GSA was important. “It’s a great compliment to the students of Central High School who truly respect one another,” she said in the newspaper. “And the building offers diversity, which our students are going to encounter in life. Our students and staff are an example of how I wish everyone in society could be.”
Reached by phone, Wierda confirmed her statements in the Bay City Times. “There was not an incident or anything like that” that spurred the club’s creation, she said. “Our high school — Central, which is one of two high schools in the district — serves a very diverse student body and they take pride in respecting each other and this was a natural extension of that.”
Said Leo Romo of Perceptions, a local lesbian, bisexual, gay and transexual group, “The superintendent, administration and students support and defend the school’s GSA. They have been positive and encouraging. The naysayers will learn that they were wrong.”