Gentry Middle School parents and CPS administrators are speaking out after a display to mark LGBT history raised some concerns.
The principal of Gentry Middle School sent a letter to parents and guardians Monday afternoon saying the display is meant “to promote compassion and empathy for others” and does “not advocate for any type of sexual orientation.”
The posters were put up since October was selected by the diversity committee to honor LGBT history. Last month, the school celebrated Hispanic heritage, and next month, it will celebrate diabetes awareness.
According to CPS spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark, parents questioned a poster series that featured famous people in the LGBT community. She said the poster series will be removed this week but a display case and Jaguar Paws Club (the school’s version of a gay-straight alliance club) will continue to be visible in the building. She said they have heard from parents on both sides of the spectrum–those in support of the poster series and those who are against it.
ABC 17 News spoke to two different parents who said it’s important to promote an open environment where students can discuss sexual orientation.
The principal’s letter also clarified that the posters are not part of the curriculum.
One poster that was removed:
Display that will remain in place through October:
Letter sent to parents:
Dear Gentry Parents and Guardians,
Over the last several days, we have received a number of questions regarding a poster display at our school.
The display is part of our school’s celebration of LGBT History Month. Our Diversity Committee, which is led by teachers, chooses a topic every month to highlight with our students, teachers, and community.
For instance, last month we celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month, and in the future we will select other topics to celebrate.
By choosing LGBT History Month, our goal as a school is to bring knowledge, empathy, and compassion to a community that is represented at all levels of our school system. They are our students, our teachers, and also our parents. We want to recognize them and honor their voices. We chose to do this with an educational display of the history of the pride flag, and what the colors have represented through its evolution and through a poster series featuring different famous people that identify as members of the LGBT group.
It is not our intention, by any means, to advocate for any type of sexual orientation nor to encourage sexual activity, but to promote compassion and empathy for others. The posters are also not curricular materials and are also not part of course instruction as some have indicated.
While our Jaguar Paws Club posters will continue to be visible in the building, we will be removing the most recent poster series that caused concern among some parents.
Together we can ensure that Gentry continues to remain a safe place for our students and faculty – free from discrimination, harassment and retaliation, and we will continue to honor and respect all voices.
Thank you for your continued understanding and support.
Dr. Fairouz Bishara