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School Board aims to clarify purpose of student groups

This is a letter sent to the Times by members of the Pinellas County School Board.

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.