Dr. Lamb Shepherds an Information Pamphlet for Teachers Who Must Undergo the Ministrations of Linda Kipley's Simon-Legree Treatment in Her Abu Gharib Cell Block
Dr. Lamb: Bart Birdsall said he had a useful conversation with you today and that you applauded him for running for the School Board. So did my husband and I. We gave him some money and encouraged him all the way.
I liked that Bart ran to detoxify the idea that a gay couldn't do so, and the great thing is that he did not get one anti-gay taunt in the entire campaign. His run for office to make doing so more hospitable for gays is what I call higher politics. To change our culture, there have to be people who will step out front where more cautious and more conveniently political people won't. If you examine the history of our democracy, this was always so.
Bart ventured into that unknown territory. I think his Board run on principle will be something he will treasure when he is an old man. When he looks back on his life, he can say, "I ran for the Hillsborough County School Board" to make life better for gays in society and especially for the gay children in the school system."
He and Jane Bolton began their efforts to make the schools less toxic for gay students years ago--Jane had a gay son at my old school, Hillsborough; and these two pioneers bumped up against the prejudice of the school administration and, I am sorry to say, the Board too. I joined in with a little skirmish or two in the last days of their efforts. I once ran down Dr. Lennard in a pair of spiked Manohla Blanicks at Tiger Bay and caught him. He promised to form a committee to deal with the gay harassment. He didn't. I am sorry he dropped out of the Florida Senate race. I could hardly wait to get him on a platform where he had to field questions and couldn't run.The Board and administration apparently were afraid to challenge the bigots. I don't think he had the political instincts to win that election. A real politician knows when to veer in another direction because his political nose tells him the voters are going that way.
I believe Ms. Elia repeated this error with the last gay-club effort by reappointing the committee that reviewed the situation when the first committee came up with the advice to not notify the parents. The second committee, I understand, had the anti-gay complainers on it and reversed the previous decision.
I am sorry that the deluge of emails caused you to vote on the losing side. You should have voted your convictions. All politicians should. When you wrote me that reason for your vote and when I then heard that Ms. Falliera had boasted of sending out many emails to invite people to condone the notification that the gay students opposed, I asked you to have the Board attorney give an opinion on the legality of a Board member's using a school-supplied computer to engage in this kind of politicking on a Board item. I believe all of the Board members have a school computer at home and infer that Ms. Falliera used hers. The school email technicians in the Tech Department could determine whether Ms. Faliera's computer was used it to send out the political emails. I would like to know when the attorney renders an opinion on this question. I expect to include a copy of the email sent out on this issue and the email recipients' list. That is public information since it involves school business.
Ms. Elia and Ms. Faliera are the unfortunate possessors of bad political noses. They don't know when an idea's time has come. Ms. Kurdell is embalmed in my considered opinion and doesn't know anything but heil Hitler.
I thought it interesting that the gay kids had turned out a much more numerous body at the Board on this issue than had the homophobes. I congratulated every kid I could that night on their vigorous demonstration of democracy in action. I especially thanked the ACLU--of which I have been member for many years--for its support of the gay kids' side of the question. I thought a couple of USF people made outstanding statements. You can always trust academics to know valid data. But the kids were the stars. The boys who piled the books on the table to demonstrate their point will be important people one day. That kind of hustle and get-up-and-go at their age promises significant lives.
I am delighted that you will welcome Mr. Gonzalez's information booklet for the Professional Standards referrals. I wish you would put it on the Web for public review and comment. The teachers who enter the perilous precincts of Professional Standards badly need solid information. I tried to talk to Ms. Kipley about this booklet at the gay-club Board meeting. She spit out, "I don't have to talk to you!" and fled before my astonished eyes. Not only does Ms. Kipley not have the academic background for her important position, she lacks the poise and polish to respond to one of the public who pays her salary.
Ms. Kipley's progress from Home Ec to that job is a primie facie case of the administration shoddy employment practices. Ms. Elia would amend those if a majority of Board members made plain that they expect her to do so. She wants to keep her own job, which the Board controls.
I don't know whether you plan to contact the CTA on the Professional Standards pamphlet for teachers. I can tell you categorically that the organization cooperated with Kipley's savaging of teachers and did not think the issue worth the outfit's attention, although I understand the dues for a teacher is $500 a year. I consider the CTA corrupt and ineffectual, and I speak from the position of a former faculty union president at HCC.
Thank you for your hospitality to the information packet for teachers subjected to the treatment Ms. Kipley is infamous for in Professional Standards.
Lee Drury De Cesare