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New EHS group causes stir at school

November 2, 2013
By Beth Christian Broschart - Staff Writer , The Inter-Mountain

ELKINS - Rumors of student unrest at Elkins High School regarding an anti-bullying organization this week are not true, EHS Principal David Fincham and Randolph County Superintendent of Schools Terry George said Friday.

However, one school board member said the board should have been told about the organization meeting at the school.

A new after-school organization, the Gay-Straight Alliance, is forming at the school, officials said.

The GSA website states the organization is made up of students - gay and straight - who think that anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual) bullying, harassment and discrimination is wrong.

Members work together to make sure their school is a safe, supportive environment for all students.

Emails and text messages circulating among local residents Friday claimed that posters about the organization placed around EHS this week were torn down by angry students.

Other messages claimed Fincham and George approved the organization's meeting at the school and that Randolph Board of Education members were unaware of the approval.

On Friday, George said he was aware of the organization but had heard of no uproar over the signs, and said no emergency meeting of the BOE had been scheduled.

Fincham said Friday there had been no disturbance, and that the signs had just been put up this week.

"There is no issue here," Fincham said. "The point of the group is that each student is treated with respect and dignity - it is meant to curb bullying and hazing."

Fincham said the group is a national organization, with chapters in many West Virginia schools.

"Schools who currently have GSA include George Washington High School, Capitol High School, John Marshall High School and Cabel Midland High School," Fincham said.

Board of Education member Ed Tyre said Friday board members were not told about the GSA meeting at the school.

"This is a small town," Tyre said. "It was not brought to the board and we should have known or been told."

Tyre said it would not have been the board's place to approve or disapprove of the organization meeting at the school, but they should have been told so they could be prepared for questions from parents. He said he was "a little bit blindsided" this week by several phone calls from parents about the situation.

Tyre said he had been told of an incident at the school this week in which a female student stripped down to her bra and underwear and ran through the halls. He said he was not sure if the incident was related to the GSA situation.

In a text message to The Inter-Mountain Friday evening, George wrote, "She was not in her undergarments. It was (a) swimsuit. Senior prank, disciplinary action taken, issue resolved with parents. I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to provide the facts in the story."

A sign about GSA posted on a wall at EHS stated the first meeting would be Friday after school. The sign stated students could ask teachers Randy L. Revels Jr. and Alison Siewny for more information.

According to an EHS student who wished to remain anonymous, Fincham removed the GSA signs on Thursday because they were being defaced and ripped down.

The student also claimed some students responded to the GSA signs by posting signs of their own on the school's walls asking for freedom of religion and prayer in schools.

The student said those signs were not allowed to remain on the walls, and students were told not to touch any of the signs in the school or they would be disciplined

Additional information about GSA is available on-line at glsen.org.

Contact Beth Christian Broschart by e-mail at bbroschart@theintermountain.com. Follow her on Twitter at ITM-Broschart.

 
 

 

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