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Board affirms support of Gay, Straight Alliance

Published Sep. 13, 2005

Recently, members of the School Board of Pinellas County have received letters and postcards protesting the Gay and Straight Alliance student support group at Largo High School. The Florida Family Association requested these mailings from their members across Florida.

Clearly, the information provided by the Florida Family Association to their members (and the media) has been inaccurate, distorted and misleading. Efforts to correct the misinformation have been to no avail. We want now to publicly set the record straight.

The Gay and Straight Alliance student group at Largo High School is one of several groups formed to help students deal with difficult emotional issues. Family chemical addictions and anger management, for example, are other groups. All the groups are designed to promote a safe and drug-free school. These groups were created in response to student requests for help.

As a School Board, we have gone on record for a safe learning environment for all young people in our district. Academic achievement is dramatically impacted if a student feels unsafe in school and is in fear of violence.

We support any group created to help students deal with these and other difficult problems that confront them. Sexual orientation issues and fear of intimidation should never be allowed to deter a student from being successful in school or in life.

Pinellas County School Board members

Tax funds shouldn't be spent

on Gay, Straight Alliance

As a local resident and taxpayer for over 20 years, I just want to get the facts out about the Pinellas County School Board being financially responsible for our tax dollars.

School Board Chairwoman Lucile Casey wants to get the facts out about the Gay and Straight Alliance at Largo High, but not at my expense. Personally, I don't condone this group other than stating no one should be harassed for their personal convictions. But don't expect me to support GASA when there is a teacher and textbook shortage.

Casey goes on to say GASA is no different from any other conflict resolution group and was formed within the school, not by the district. Why not let GASA meet before or after school like other clubs? Or maybe out of the goodness of their own hearts the School Board members could personally sponsor them?

Let's allow federal and local money to be spent on the purchase of textbooks and the hiring of teachers, like it was intended to be used. This local resident and taxpayer has gotten his facts out: No funds for GASA!

William H. Sherk II, Largo

Story on mobile medical van

upsetting to social worker

Re: Mobile unit brings an oasis of healing, by Joe Newman, April 22.

As the social worker on the mobile medical van, I feel that I was grossly misrepresented in this article and I would like to say a few things that I feel need to be said as well as make a few corrections.

First of all, yes, I consider myself a realist but, no, I do not believe that most of the people on the van will wind up being indigent burial cases. What I did say was that some people will wind up getting jobs and moving on with their lives, while others will never be able to get off the streets due to addiction to drugs or alcohol and may wind up being a county indigent burial case.

Also, the very last quote in the article was not my quote at all. It was part of the nurse's quote with a fraction of what I said. What I did say was that addiction can make people seem like they are the "living dead" because after a while, they can no longer function successfully in society.

I have got to say that I find it very interesting how someone can listen to what you tell him and then pick out little bits and pieces and it comes out sounding entirely different, if not downright embarrassing. I hope in the future that your reporters will listen carefully to what is being said and not just pick out what they want or think people want to hear.

Lisa S. Freeman, social work field investigator,

St. Petersburg

Largo officials have obligations

to mobile home park dwellers

Re: Sometimes, what's legal isn't the right thing to do, editorial, April 12.

Our organization applauds the editorial. Typically, Largo city officials look out for mobile home owners because of the number of mobile homes within the city limits. It does seem ironic that the city would assist a business with its move but not the residents in the mobile home community.

Although the city may believe it has no obligation to the homeowners, it does need to review again Florida Statute 723, the mobile home law. According to that, no local or state government shall approve any application for rezoning or take any other official action which would result in the removal or relocation of mobile home owners residing in a mobile home park without first determining that adequate mobile home parks or other suitable facilities exist for the relocation of the mobile home owners.

I wonder if the city has determined that such facilities exist for the homeowners who live in Largo Village Mobile Home Park? If I lived in the city of Largo as a mobile home owner, I would definitely be watching the City Council and vote accordingly in the next election.

Bill Williams, president, Federation of

Mobile Home Owners of Florida Inc., Largo

Scientologists praised for handling of Easter egg hunt

On Easter Sunday, the Scientologists sponsored an Easter egg hunt in Coachman Park in Clearwater. The event was to begin at 2 p.m. Because I am the groundskeeper at Coachman Park, I thought I would check out this event. I arrived around 1 p.m. and found thousands of eggs everywhere in the park.

I had concerns about some of the eggs hidden in delicate flower beds. When I brought my concerns to a volunteer working the event, the eggs were removed and the beds had caution tape put around them. On Monday morning, I expected to see trash all over the park and many plants trampled. Much to my surprise the park was nearly spotless and very minimal damage was done to the plants.

The respect this group of people showed for Coachman Park should be commended.

Jim Belcher, Clearwater