Survey of Children About Gays Infuriates Parents
A group of parents are angry that members of the Gay-Straight Student Alliance at the high school are preparing a survey that will asks students their opinions of homosexuals and lesbians.
Completing the survey is voluntary and those doing so would not be asked to give their names.
The parents, some of whom have children attending the high school while others do not, say their children should not be subjected to a survey about their sexual preferences under any circumstances.
"We don’t feel a survey should go out to the student body unless the parents have given their approval," said Roseanne T. Farese, mother of six, including an eighth grader who will attend North Andover High next year.
"To have" the Gay-Straight Student Alliance "allowed at the high school id to give acceptance to homosexuality. We feel it’s wrong. God said it was wrong. And He knew what was best for humanity when he created us," Mrs. Farese said.
The alliance began in September and has about 40 members. The group is being advised by faculty members Jeff Fuller and Stephen T. Sousa. It’s purpose, said Ryan F. Corsaro, 15, "is to educate other students about different lifestyles, especially those concerning other sexualities."
Last month, Mr Sousa said the alliance was working on a survey that would ask students what they think of gay and straight issues.
Once given, the group would look at the results and determine what kind of activities it will sponsor at the school.
Ms. Farese sent Superintendent of Schools George I. Blaisdell a letter on Nov. 11 expressing her concern with the group after reading an Eagle-Tribune article.
Signed by 12 other parents, Ms. Farese wrote, "We are a group of parents compelled to rite this letter for concern for our children…As parents, we believe that it is our responsibility to educate our minor children on issues of sexuality from a much greater vantage of maturity and experience."
Ms. Farese also wrote in the letter that the alliance, since it is an extracurricular organization, has no right to educate the other students on their sexuality.
"…We object to surveys being sent to the entire student body. Surveys can be designed to elicit ‘preferred’ responses, or to break down student inhibitions…Advocating risky behavior in this age of sexually-transmitted diseases, such as AIDS, is unconscionable."
Ms. Farese concluded the letter by asking Mr. Blaisdell to set a policy that would prohibit the alliance from engaging in any kind of educational activities, such as workshops, seminars, or surveys.
The superintendent said he would not.
"I think that violates the constitution and several state laws," Mr. Blaisdell said yesterday. "If we were to do what Ms. Farese says, we’d be held by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination as violating the rights of those students. My refusal to do that is based on my understanding of what the law is."
North Andover High Principal Edward C. Martin said the alliance met yesterday to discuss where and when it will give the survey. The group will talk to him before it is distributed.
"I’m trying to treat the alliance exactly as I’d treat any other club," said Mr. Martin. "The intention of the group is to create a school where the is tolerance, not advocacy for gay students."
Mr. Martin said the survey is innocuous.
"It’s a kids’ survey and its kids’ questions."
Margaret Giordano, Mary Carol, Lou and Patty Ferraro, Karen Kingsley, Richard Farese, Pamela McKallagut, Roseanne and Frank DiNuccio, Gilbert and Shirley Sullivan and Anne Gray are the other parents who signed Ms. Farese’s letter.