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School Board denounces gay lifestyle as ‘sin’

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (BP)–All five (Panama City) Bay District School Board members on April 9 denounced homosexuality, with three of them calling it “a sin,” in response to parental concerns about gay and lesbian issues in schools.

School Board member Ron Danzey called homosexuality “a sin” during a School Board meeting April 9. School Board Vice Chairman Johnny Brock and member Mike Jones agreed, saying that although there is no specific issue before them, they would oppose any curriculum that promotes or condones a homosexual lifestyle.

Jones said that if an issue were to come before the board, he would listen, but he would not agree with any curriculum that supports homosexuality.

“We are morally, ethically and Christian based,” Jones said during the meeting. “We stand tall, we stand firm and we will not support any homosexual (issues).”

School Board Chairman Thelma Rohan and board member Mike Gavlak did not condemn homosexuality during the meeting, but when contacted after the meeting both said they agreed with their colleagues.

Gavlak, a former Navy commander, said he had always followed the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and that he felt that policy was appropriate in a school setting. When contacted after the meeting, however, Gavlak and Rohan said that they, too, condemned homosexuality.

“We have to be ever vigilant that whatever we think is morally right and true comes through in our children’s curriculum,” Rohan said.

Parents spoke April 9 and at a prior meeting about their views on homosexuality, saying that it has no place in schools. They were responding to publicity about National Education Association guidelines on gay and lesbian issues.

The guidelines include “increasing respect, understanding and sensitivity towards individuals and groups in a diverse society, including … gays, lesbians and transgendered people and eliminating discrimination.”

Local union members said the NEA policies that spawned the debate are only suggestions.

“We’re still not sure what (the parents) are after,” said Tom Wazlavek, a spokesperson for the Association of Bay County Educators and a member of the NEA. “It seems to me that they think there is some hidden gay agenda that’s going to corrupt America. We don’t have a position because we don’t know what the issue is.”

Current policy regarding discrimination in schools is consistent with union views, Wazlavek said.

Karen Baber, a parent of three children in district schools, said she would like to see the School Board take preventative measures to keep homosexual issues out of schools. Those issues, however, were not specified.

She said she would like to meet with Rohan to have the issue added as an agenda item for the next meeting.

Baber declined an interview request from The News Herald after the meeting.

Whether or not an action item formally reaches the board depends on the outcome of Rohan’s and Baber’s meeting, and on state law, Rohan said.
This story first appeared in The News Herald. Used by permission.

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  • Emily Cramer