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Johnstown district delays vote on club

Group’s petition stops gay-straight alliance’s formation

June 12, 2010
By MICHAEL ANICH, The Leader-Herald

JOHNSTOWN - The Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education on Thursday narrowly tabled until August a possible vote on the formation of a gay-straight alliance club for Johnstown High School for the 2010-11 school year.

Board President Robert Curtis said a group of people presented him a five- to six-page petition with 150 to 200 signatures, and he asked that the matter be tabled.

"I was asked to meet with a group of concerned citizens Monday," Curtis said.

He said he was presented a packet of information and petition by the citizens, who don't want the club formed at JHS.

The board had on its agenda Thursday night at JHS a proposed motion to allow formation of a high school "gay straight alliance club." The agenda item indicated the club would operate at no cost to the district and it would be supervised by an unpaid adviser, effective Sept. 1.

A proposed motion to appoint Warren Street Elementary School Principal R. Scott Ziomek as the club's adviser also was on the agenda.

Both motions passed 5-4. Voting to table both motions were: Curtis, James Levin, Russell Martin, Scott Miller and Evamarie Mraz. Voting not to table were: John David Praught, Leslie Buggeln-Bosworth, Ron Beck and Joanne Freeman.

Curtis said Friday the group he met with Monday at the Johnstown Public Library was led by Johnstown resident Madeline Derwin, a retired teacher.

She couldn't be reached Friday.

He said the Derwin-led group feels the proposed GSA is "not an appropriate club" for the high school.

"They presented me with a bunch of literature," Curtis said.

The Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education in May first indicated it is contemplating formal sanctioning of a gay-straight alliance group, which would have started in the fall at JHS. Such a group would raise awareness of issues facing lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender students.

Leslie Buggeln-Bosworth, chairwoman of the board's Academic-Extracurricular Committee, told the board last month that some JHS students approached high school Assistant Principal Duilio Viscusi about their desire to form a "gay-straight alliance" group. She said such groups are in schools in Mayfield, Niskayuna and Schenectady.

The Mayfield Central School District Board of Education in January unanimously approved establishment of a gay-straight alliance at its junior-senior high school. The group said when it was formed, its main goal was to promote an atmosphere of respect among students of all sexual orientations.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at johnstown@leaderherald.com.

 
 

 

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