Parent Opposes Rainbow Triangles at WAHS

In an effort to designate a supporting environment for gay students at Western Albemarle High School, some guidance counselors have put a rainbow triangle on their door. It was less than two years ago that the school board expanded their anti-discrimination rules to cover sexual orientation, a move that was prompted by anti-gay sentiments and even violence among some students. Parent Biff Rossberg wants the triangles to come down, calling them “a back-handed way of working around the requirements for getting sexuality information into the family life education curriculum.” He describes homosexuality as “immoral” and an “aberration,” complains that “this is so agenda driven,” and, believing the triangles may encourage homosexuality, asserts that girls are “making out in the cafeteria,” but goes on to say “I don’t have a homophobic bone in my body.” At-large school board candidate Linda McRaven agrees with Rossberg, while her opponent, Brian Wheeler, dissents. Says school superintendent Kevin Castner of the triangles: “They don’t promote anything other than a safe harbor for kids.” He’s ruled that the triangles aren’t going anywhere, but Rossberg intends to take his case to the school board. Lisa Provence has the story in this week’s Hook. 10/28/03 Update: Rossberg has commented extensively in response to this story.

66 thoughts on “Parent Opposes Rainbow Triangles at WAHS”

  1. According to the story in the Hook (as well as one I read in the Progress), these symbols in the high schools are rainbow triangles, not pink triangles. Who cares? Well, there’s a slight difference of interpretation. The history of the symbol comes from Nazi Germany, when pink triangles were worn by male homosexuals in concentration camps, black by lesbians, and other colors of triangles by other oppressed groups. Although the pink triangle has been seized as a pride symbol by the gay community, the rainbow colors are not only a gay rights symbol but additionally are used to symbolize diversity. Which is of some relevance to the story, albeit probably slight.

    My $0.02, however: I don’t think the symbols belong on display a public school any more than I think “under God” belongs in a patriotic recitation also used in public schools.

  2. I don’t have anything against putting up triangles, but it seems to be a ridiculous way of dealing with a serious issue. Putting up signs and symbols invites controversy without really doing anything to solve discrimination issues. Good ole’ Biff sounds a bit out of touch with reality though- girls making out in the cafeteria? Haven’t seen that personally, and if it happens it’s generally a joke, not rampant Lesbian activity. Also, I’ve yet to meet anyone who decided to become gay based on something they saw.

  3. According to the story in the Hook (as well as one I read in the Progress), these symbols in the high schools are rainbow triangles, not pink triangles.

    Good eye — I’ve fixed it. Thanks.

  4. -girls making out in the cafeteria?-

    Well, if the young teenage girls can watch Madonna and Brittney Spears make out on live TV why should we stop them from making out in the cafeteria?

  5. yeah and when I see a cross in the schools I fight it to no end to stop pushing religion on me. I might God Forbid pray!

  6. OK, I know this has nothing to do with triangles per se but I also belive that they can show an area to be "safe". On that note, I have a question…

    I spend my freshman-junior High School years near Gettysburg, PA. I remember seeing on the school, area restaurants, public libraries and some homes signs with a picture of a house and it said "safe house". My younger sister and I were told that these were places that we should go if we felt uncomfortable walking home. ie a stranger has just offered you candy and a ride home, etc

    I thought this was a wonderful idea, and wonder why I’ve never seen them in VA. I just got back from Pittsburgh and I saw the signs there too. I’m going to spend time researching the idea on the Net but I don’t think these places receive any money, unless Neighborhood Watches get money because that’s the closest thing I can think of to this program. So, anyone know why something like this isn’t around here?

  7. I have no problem with these little triangles. But what this brings to mind for me is the furor over a teacher displaying a cross on/around her desk.

    These issues should be treated equally.

    If you’re gonna let a teacher/school display symbols like this, let them display all such symbols. If you’re not gonna let them display one such symbol, don’t let them display any such symbol.

    That being said, I believe that these symbols (and religious symbols) should be allowed. For very much the same reasoning they’re using to justify just these symbols.

    If a kid wants to talk to someone about religion, it helps to know who’s available to talk about that. The lady with a cross (or star of david, or whatever else) on her desk may have something to say on the subject. Likewise, if you need to talk about your (homo)sexuality, the person with a rainbow triangle may have something to offer.

    I believe the only real chance of harm in this situation is the possibility of hypocrisy and discrimination. If some idiot at the top thinks they can be a moral judge and allow some symbols and not others, then they need to be smacked.

  8. Because molesters will be the first to display "Safe Harbor"! Virginia is just a tad more atrocious than Pennsylvania.

  9. I did a brief look and LA and Detroit both have this program as well. In both programs, folks volunteer to the police department who then does a background check. Then the PD gives them the sign to hang. Also to note is that the children and "sponsors" are told that the child should come to the porch of the house, let the adult know and wait on the porch until police arrive. In no case should the child ever enter the home.

    Of course, I guess they’re assuming all houses have a front porch…

  10. Of course, I guess they’re assuming all houses have a front porch…

    …and that kids will know all the rules, like, ah, checking the validity of the sign, asking for references… all that, while they’re flustered enough to be seeking safe harbor in the first place.

    This is just another band-aid approach to profound cultural problems. The problem with band-aids, of course, is that it can mask the infection. The bigger the band-aid, the worse things may be underneath.

  11. "girls making out in the cafeteria? Haven’t seen that personally, and if it happens it’s generally a joke, not rampant Lesbian activity. "

    The syntax above seems to indicate Colin has more than passing knowledge of "cafeteria behavior" and that some form of "lesbian" activity – perhaps jokingly – does occur.

    What about it Colin? Enlighten the forum further (dang !) if you please. It may help our thinking.

  12. hey colinc, this is good ol’ biff. not sure why you think i’m out of touch with reality, how often are you in a high school these days? i got the story about the young girls kissing from a neighbor who told me her granddaughter, a student at WAHS, will no longer eat in the cafeteria because she is disgusted after witnessing several of her female classmates lip locking in the cafeteria a few times.

    the story seemed a little over the top to me as well, so i repeated it to Bobbi Hughes, one of the assistant principals at WAHS, telling her i had no first hand knowledge, but this is what i had been told. She said, "Oh no, I can believe it," indicating it was certainly probable in her mind that the story was accurate. sounds like the madonna/brittany wannabes hang around in small groups until they are sure no teacher or administrator is watching, then 2 go at it while the others keep look out.

    so whatever, colin….. i just hope my kids stay out of the straight/s&m alliance.

  13. Regardless of whether or not I agree with you on the issue of allowing such symbols, I definitely don’t think that those two symbols are comparable. The rainbow triangle says, “All are safe and respected here,” and that’s pretty much all it says. While a cross can mean that, it very clearly also says a lot of other things, perhaps most problematically (in public school settings, that is), “I am a follower of Christ.” So I don’t think that allowing one should necessarily allow the other, since there are some very important differences in the meaning of each.

  14. hey waldo, this is biff, i’ve got a few more corrections to your summary above. first on my list of reasons why i think the triangles should come down is i think they stigmatize gay kids and reveal a disturbing naivete on the part of administration about the adolescent psyche, particularly how teenage boys think.

    when a kid enters WAHS, the kid is assigned a guidance counselor, whom the kid stays with through graduation. what effect do you think it would have on a 10th or 11th grade boy when he rolls up to his guidance counselor’s (or the school psychologist’s) door this fall to check in about the status of his college plans, and finds the rainbow triangle on her door? there are probably alot of kids who will take it in stride, but what about the rest? what purpose is served by alienating them?

    and almost all of the folks out this way i have talked to have raised the fairness issue: if it’s fine for the pro-gay teachers/counselors to post the triangles, why can’t anyone post whatever symbols they want? how about the star of david for the jewish kids? how about rebel flags for the redneck kids? can a republican teacher post a pro-republican sticker? isn’t this government controlling speech? doesn’t the constitution have something to say about that?

    i also did not say that i think homosexual orientation is immoral or an abberation. i have lots of bones to pick with lisa provence and her misquotes. in spite of hawes spencer’s assurance that she would be "superprofessional", i found the writer from the cavalier daily much easier to talk to: just simply more friendly, less full of herself, more open about her own opinions. and not the least bit sneaky. i hate sneaky. like they’re doing me a favor to deign to include me in her oh so important little article…….what crap.

    and i did not complain, i STATED that the whole incident, including mary rodriguez’ teacher orientation sessions at all three county high schools (i’ve been told she intends to cover every school in the county), is part of an agenda that’s the real reason for the stickers. ms rodriguez is more open about the fact that she is working to drive her agenda all the time. she was one of the signatories on the full page ad in the daily progress last thursday, A section.

    i also didn’t say i thought the triangles as posted would encourage homosexuality (who was your source, waldo? does accuracy matter to you at all?) lisa asked me straight up if i was homophobic, but wouldn’t even talk about what she meant by the label. am i opposed to much of the radical changes some gay rights activists propose? yes i am, and i’ll be glad to defend my positions. do i harbor any hatred or have any fear of gays, lesbians, drag queens, CUFF, all the folks, whatever? nope. none at all.

    lisa’s snotty little pc caricature of me, and the obvious contempt in her voice (she was also in a big ass hurry. i guess you can’t worry too much about accuracy with a deadline looming) were insulting, but i guess i shouldn’t complain, it could easily been worse. sitting in her super cool office, on the very tony downtown mall, with her finger on the pulse of the chic and current of hookville, writing about events out in the western part of the county, like she knows anything about WAHS, has ever met any of the people involved, or knows any of the history of the situation. ever been west of ivy, lisa? you just phoned it in….. way to go.

  15. please tell me you are kidding…..

    the symbol in question, used by the nazis to mark gays and lesbians for extermination during the holocaust, adopted soon after stonewall as a symbol of the gay rights movement, recently modified with the rainbow motif that decorates nearly every gay rights website i’ve ever laid eyes on………… you really think that’s ALL it says?

    with church denominations splitting over this issue, with all the emotional baggage and psychodrama/trauma that cling to this issue, with madonna and brittany spears locking up on tv, with gay marriage, and aids funding, and all the other furor attendant to this issue, you really think that "pretty much all it says" is "ALL are safe and respected here"?

    and then with blase words, you explain that the cross is a much more problematic symbol for you….

    it is hard to believe you are serious about that. are you?

    and just for the record, i think the 2 symbols are very comparable: both were symbols of pain and death that those who suffered turned around on the symbol makers to mean something closer to love and welcome.

  16. Being a high school student (I’ll let that much of my identity slip) I would know what goes on, at least my high school. Some people’s actions (and I wouldn’t call it homosexual) could be construed as such, but is evidently only of a lack of maturity. This "activity" might include lap sitting, messing with others’ clothing, etc.

  17. Wow, I didn’t realize what I say on the internet can get back to some person in the news. Living in a small town blows at times. No offense intended at any rate. As I mentioned in response to Cornelious, I am a high school student and therefore would be expected to have a better idea of what might go on. I don’t attend Western, so I wouldn’t know what goes on there. I don’t doubt that such things might take place on occasion, but I really don’t think it’s nearly as organized as you suggest. It seems like the kind of thing some weirdo might do on impulse.

  18. Equally? Are you saying you can rid our schools of SYMBOLS? There is no way to remove all symbols from schools, people are wearing shoes and clothing with symbols, they’re assigned books full of symbols, in rooms full of symbols. There is no escape from symbolism.

    I think you’re including some connotation to the word symbol that I am not. This message is a string of symbols. There are symbols everywhere. There is a sign with a picture of a wheelchair that symbolizes the handicapped (handicapable?) parking. Should we get rid of that? Clearly being handicapped is bad, and we dont want kids to see that and become quadrapalegic!

    Same goes for the rainbow triangle. Some guy thought he’d be a trendy queer eye guy and put it up on his door, but now kids are gonna see it and become gay.

    Although it would be cool, they couldn’t really have math anymore without symbols.

  19. This situation is not about the use of symbols, it is about the education of our children. Already, out there, in the “real-world” after high-school, there is a mass confusion concerning sexuality. To display a symbol representative of the homosexual group is sort of an endorsement. If they had displayed these, as they state, to provide reassurance to gay children, they need to display a whole slew of other symbols to reassure other groups. Otherwise, it appears like an approval.

    And even if YOU don’t think it is, the kids walking through the hallways may. They already have enough confusion in their growing-up lives. What is needed is a clear policy, both written and applied, that discrimination against homosexuals, or foreigners, or geeks, or farmers, or bug lovers will not be tolerated.

  20. I was pretty careful to say "these symbols" and "such symbols" throughout my post, and when I was talking about equality it was for "these issues." So I think I was fairly clear about exactly which symbols and issues I was talking about.

    So, sophistry aside, do you think I’m wrong? Or were you just chiming in for humor value?

  21. It appears to me that this situation is more about “political correctness,” and I think the whole thing is stupid.

    What is needed is a clear policy, both written and applied, that discrimination against homosexuals, or foreigners, or geeks, or farmers, or bug lovers will not be tolerated.

    Now that I can agree with.

  22. I think you are right on this issue. Symbols are powerful tools and should therefore be used wisely. I think that a counselor’s office would do well to include every *such* symbol as they can think of.

  23. You’re thinking of the pink triangle, which is not the symbol in question here. We’re talking about the rainbow triangle, which is intended to cover all sorts of persecuted groups and generally indicate a sort of haven for all. Not just homosexuals.

  24. If they had displayed these, as they state, to provide reassurance to gay children, they need to display a whole slew of other symbols to reassure other groups.

    They did. That’s what the rainbow triangle means. If they’d just done a pink triangle, then it would indeed be speaking just to homosexuals, but the rainbow triangle is intended to speak to a "whole slew" of persecuted groups.

  25. How’bout a rainbow Nazi Swastika? Maybe that’ll symbolize all persecuted eithnic groups?! Listen will, get real.

  26. doesn’t the Eygtians have a symbol that is like the nazi swastika. So if I was an eygtians wanting to show ‘eygtian pride’ would I be allow to wear it?

  27. Yes, the Swastika symbol is very ancient indeed. In fact, the Nazis hijacked it; previously it meant ‘prosperity’ for ancient middle-easterners, or ‘well-being’ for Mayans and some tribes of Native Americans.

    But the clock can’t be turned back. The Nazi holocaust is still very recent. I feel it is disrespectful to pretend it doesn’t hold all the symbolism of modern fascism.

  28. FWIW, I believe that the distinction between a pink triangle and rainbow triangle, if any there be, is lost on most. In the same way that people equate the swastika with Hitler and Nazi Germany instead of thinking of its ancient (and Christian, among other) origins, and people equate the Confederate battle flag with the KKK and other white supremacist groups instead of seeing it as a historical emblem, I think most people see the rainbow triangle as a gay pride symbol and not as a pro-diversity symbol.

    Remember the ’70’s when rainbow stickers were everywhere and were seen as just that – rainbows? sigh….

  29. If the main text of Waldo’s initial post comes from the Hook article, I don’t think that the link to Rossberg’s comment is enough to correct for what appears to be an erroneous quotation.

    Waldo says: ‘[Rossberg] describes homosexuality as "immoral" and an "aberration," . . . but goes on to say "I don’t have a homophobic bone in my body."’

    However, in the Hook article, Provence writes: ‘Rossberg says others share his concerns in a community where many see homosexuality as "immoral" or an "aberration." He stresses, "I don’t have a homophobic bone in my body. It’s against my religion to hate anybody."’

    Ignoring the fact that Provence may have misquoted Rossberg, I think that Waldo is misquoting Provence quoting Rossberg. Waldo claims that Rossberg asserts that homosexuality is "immoral" and an "aberration". Instead, I read the Hook article as saying that Rossberg was describing how he perceives the community to feel. He seemed to be fairly adamant that he does not harbor those same feelings, even if both he and the general community are displeased with the display of the symbols.

    Rossberg, a man that I’ve never met, may or may not be homophobic, as I think that the misleading quotations may suggest, intentional or otherwise. Reading Waldo’s summary, I got the feeling that Rossberg was an extremely conservative, religiously judgmental man. Those two out-of-context quotes were a large part of the reason why. Now, fairly or now, I tend to see him instead as more of a position-agnostic parent who wants to keep political hot-spots (like religion, homosexuality, etc.) out of the public schools.

  30. who was your source, waldo? does accuracy matter to you at all?

    You’re obviously upset, but please don’t take it out on me. If accuracy didn’t matter to me, I wouldn’t provide a forum through which you could provide a rebuttal or clarifications.

  31. i am not "upset", and i’m not sure why you draw that conclusion, or find it so "obvious". i am mortally tired of being misquoted in print, and i was asking who your source was because to my waking mind, you and i have never had a conversation of any kind.

    so if i didn’t tell you what you wrote as though it were my stated opinion, where did you get it from? did you make it up? did you get it from lisa "superprofessional" provence? i’m just curious, waldo, not the least upset. and i do appreciate the forum you’ve provided.

    but i’d still like to know: why did you feel you could quote me when we’d never talked? do you care about accuracy?

  32. is certainly an informal news site, and as such, is not bound by the same rules as ‘official’ news outlets. It is – or should be if it isn’t – bound by the unwritten laws of respectable ethics. My question to you, biff: Did Waldo misrepresent your meaning?

    I personally didn’t detect an obvious negative bias in his forum intro. I have no doubt Lisa "SuperPro" Provence misquoted and probably even misrepresented you, knowing how she regularly operates. If she was in a hurry to run out of the ‘interview’, it was no doubt to get to her hairdresser’s or manicurist’s…

  33. no offense taken.

    i don’t have any first hand experience with the girls kissing phenomenon, but i did observe something strange at the uva football game last saturday. i was walking behind the scoreboard at the to of the grass hill, trying to keep an eye on the total of four 8 and 9 year old girls (2 of mine, 2 were their friends) when who should walk by but a kid in the freshman class at western, dressed primarily in leather, wearing a studded leather dog collar (pit bull style) around his neck. attached to the back of the collar was 10 feet of heavy chain. at the other end of the chain was his dominatrix style female friend, also primarily dressed in leather, showing lots of skin, in tall boots with high spiked heels. she was yanking him too and fro, and he was gleefully playing the dog role with a huge grin on his face.

    so there is diversity, no doubt, at WAHS.

  34. i assume waldo was "quoting" provence’s article. so i guess it’s not his fault if he quotes a misquote, and, thereby, the untruth gets repeated again….. is that what you’re saying?

    cut and pasted from waldo’s summary:

    "believing the triangles may encourage homosexuality….": i didn’t say that, and don’t think it’s true (actually i think it’s ridiculous)

    "asserts that girls are ‘making out in the cafeteria….’"

    i didn’t assert that, but repeated a story told to me by the grandmother of a western student. one of the WAHS assistant principals told me it was not far fetched to believe that it had occurred, with what regularity i have no idea.

    i’ve never spent much time in this sort of forum, i’ll try to intuit the unwritten rules as quickly as possible

  35. thank you. ’nuff said.

    provence was a last minute sub/switch for the reporter that called me and was supposed to do the article. we were supposed to meet on the mall to talk, but lisa insisted on only talking by phone (i had hoped to get lunch out of the deal). lisa promised to review anything she intended to quote me as saying, then under the pressure of deadlines, failed to call. i checked email before i left work at 1150 to find her note of 10 minutes earlier saying that i had until 1200 to call her or she would print what she had. i called her and had a very unsettling experience, trying to argue about what she was about to quote me as having said. reflecting on the experience, i found her tone to be combative and cold, her bias undeniable (though she wouldn’t discuss her views), and her tactics sneaky and plain old rude.

    when next in town, i went by the hook office, got to talk briefly with hawes spencer, the editor, who assured me lisa is a "superprofessional", and his best reporter.

    oh well, live and learn…….

  36. i talked to brian wheeler after the school board meeting last thursday, and he didn’t really take a position on any of this stuff (the triangles, at this point, are hardly the most serious issue). did you actually talk to him waldo? did he make a statement?

  37. Hey, you know, we all make up our own rules as we go, so don’t feel like an outsider or anything.

    Yeah, I guess by quoting other sources, untruths can and do get repeated. What we need to do when we quote using other sources, is to always make known we are in fact repeating that other source which registered the interviewee. Something like: The Hook article said Biff said <this>. It’s tiresome, but we can see the need here…

  38. Presuming that Waldo’s introduction took the Hook story as its source, I think that Waldo has misrepresented what biff said. I am not sure about a negative bias, but I think that there is at least a factual error regarding a quote in the lead-in.

  39. Then your implication would be incorrect. I believe that all of these types of symbols should be treated equally in our school system.

    This means that I believe if you’re going to allow symbols showing affiliation with homosexuality, then you should also allow symbols showing affiliation with heterosexuality. I go further and say that I believe symbols showing affiliation with religion should be allowed, or disallowed by the same rule. I’ll go even further and say that I believe that symbols showing affiliation with any (non-hate) group should be allowed or disallowed by the same rule.

    Lest anyone misunderstand, this means I support showing a symbol showing affiliation with Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaeism (sp?), the NRA, civil rights organizations, pro-homosexual groups, pro-heterosexual groups, pro-life groups, pro-choice groups, the NRA, gun control groups, liberal groups, democratic groups, republican groups, PETA (ethical treatment), PETA (eating tasty), anarchist groups, and astronomy clubs. Along with any other groups in a similar vein that you can think of.

    I would not support displaying the symbols of groups associated with hate or violence in our schools. This would include Nazi symbols, KKK symbols, symbols for violent gangs, Al Queda, and other groups of this sort.

    If you want to talk about other types of symbols, such as the alphabet, mathematical operators, numbers, name tags, traffic signs, and handicapped parking symbols, then we’ll have to have a different discussion, but in general I think they should be allowed in our schools. ;)

    Does that clarify my position for you?

  40. Yeah, I think you’re right. There was a misquote of even the Hook story. And some of what biff was reported as saying was distorted from the Hook source, not even from biff.

    But my “informal news outlet” remark still stands. I don’t think biff was grossly distorted – I mean if biff said “others” were feeling uncomfortable, it’s because he was feeling so too, OBVIOUSLY. biff’s comments about others reporting lesbian demonstrations was because he felt these were inappropriate, right?

    The bottom line is there’s little foul as far as I’m concerned on cvillenews [on this thread up until now]. Now whether Lisa SuperPro distorted the whole thing, I don’t know, but from what biff’s story is there, she did some fudging and backhanded maneuvering (20 minutes before deadline sending an email for verif? what a B!)

    I am curious as to why biff wanted a free meal out of the deal; but hey, who knows?

    My bottom line is I do object, too, to PC symbols like the rainbow triangle, if it is promoted so obviously. Either put up a bunch of symbols to show your tolerance and open-mindedness, but don’t push gayness on our kids like that. I think gays should stay in the closet. It’s a distorted sexual deviancy. That’s what I think. Now, like biff is proclaiming, I don’t have any homophobic tendencies. In fact, I often like gay folks, on average, more than so-called straight folks, particularly because they are more sensitive, being the under-dogs and all. They are often more open-minded and especially less indoctrinated.

    But that could change if we let the school indoctrinate them and al kids in this underhanded way. My opinion.

  41. i’m not sure why people’s remarks so often focus on my FEELINGS, like they matter that much. i reported the anecdote about the girls’ pda because it had the effect of causing my neighbor’s granddaughter to stop eating in the cafeteria at WAHS (truth be told, she’s probably over it by now).

    "I mean if biff said others were feeling uncomfortable, it’s because he was feeling so too, OBVIOUSLY."

    why is this so OBVIOUS to you? lesbians don’t do that much for me one way or the other, by which i mean i’ve been around enough of them to get along, generally w/o too much difficulty. sometimes you end up friends, sometimes not, just like with everybody else. i’m not one to pry, just a live and let live american country boy, who doesn’t want to mess in anyone else’s business, as long as they don’t mess with mine. which they OBVIOUSLY have. but skip the feelings blah blah blah, ok? try to stick with a few basic IDEAS, like the great american challenge of balancing liberty with the rights of others.

    "biff’s comments about others reporting lesbian demonstrations was because he felt these were inappropriate, right?"

    no, no, NO (do you get it?) i pretty much control my feelings, like most civilized folks. i mentioned the incident because it is an example, in this ongoing episode, of perceived favoritism towards certain groups, a perception the-gay-triangle-on-the-office-door plays right into. the first thing most western albemarle folks say (those who are not utterly repulsed by the raising of the whole issue, or shocked that it is effecting our community high school) is "why is it ok to post the gay symbol, and it’s not ok to post a ______ ?" fill in the blank as you please, my neighbors have mentioned the nra symbol, the star of david, a cross, a libertarian bumper sticker, the rebel flag, a wicca symbol, a swastica, and a pro life bumper sticker.

    i thought the whole point of keeping religion, politics, etc out of the schools was that it was too volatile, there would be too much perceived unfairness, and since everybody couldn’t agree on a single symbol/prayer/whatever, it shouldn’t be allowed in public school.

    so what the hell are they doing at WAHS? choosing one symbol of a volatile nature, saying publicly, in classic orwellian animal farm doublespeak, that it represents DIVERSITY, and behaving in an openly dismissive manner towards those who raise questions (which i admit is mostly just me so far in public, but many more are on the way, believe me).

    wouldn’t you love to hear from someone in the school administration or on the school board? any of you all care to comment?

    you can find their email addresses at you can also look up all the school board policies this whole deal violates. the school system’s counsel’s name is mark trank, and he said at the end of the last board meeting, in answer to a question from mrs mckeel, that the posting of the triangles and the teacher orientations by ms rodriguez didn’t violate any school board policy. makes me wonder……

  42. not sure about your id, but what does your profusion of symbols idea have to do with the proper focus of a public school? isn’t a school still supposed to be trying to focus it’s energies on the instruction and edification of it’s students?

  43. a question i’d really like an answer to, because people throw this word around so indiscriminately:

    what does the term HOMOPHOBIC mean to you?

    lisa provence asked me during her phone inquisition if i considered myself homophobic, and it’s a difficult question to answer, not because i don’t know what i think, but more because i wasn’t sure what she was asking, and she refused to elaborate on the meaning of her label. so anyone reading this, i’d love to know what the word means to you ……

  44. I don’t have a problem with what you’re saying; it’s just… I’m not exactly sure what you’re saying. And in fact, you’ve amply demonstrated I don’t have a clue about what you’re saying / trying to say.

    I hope my points were clear on the issue and I’ll leave it at that.

  45. …not being comfortable around homos…

    …but you seem educated enough to know this and its etymology, no?

    I guess we have a new cvillenesian, folks! biff is creating what seems to be "forums within forums". Hey, you’ve picked this stuff up quite rapidly! Congrats!

  46. It doesn’t have anything to do with the proper focus of a public school. The profusion is meant to clarify completely my beliefs that these types of symbols (rainbow triangles or what have you) should either all be allowed, or none should be allowed. That there shouldn’t be any pickin’ and choosin’ by some bozo which symbols are allowed or not based on some silly idea that that group happens to be in favor with the politically correct.

  47. All very interesting and I am grateful for the opportunity to read the many comments (because I agree with most of them – regardless of pro/con anything)

    My question has been, for a long time, who endowed teachers with the knowledge and all these rights to to teach anything but the subject matter in their portfolios?

    My opinion is they (teachers) should, like a shoemaker, stick to their last, and let parents take care of the remainder.

    A young teacher, for instance, with some type of counselor`s bona fides, fresh from school, hasn`t learned self counseling to any degree let alone telling a child what are the best choices and paths to follow.

  48. Ah, but Cornelius, you are posing the debate as it should be, again! The fundamental question here isn’t really about a single multi-color triangle symbol, but it is about what are acceptable social ethics and mores and who should be teaching them.

    I know many cvillenewsians reading me will say to themselves “Oh no, here he goes again. Sympatico is gonna say it’s the end of America…”. And they’d be partially right. Because what we are witnessing are the signs of a society, less in the mere process of continuous transformation, as most are telling themselves, almost as a mantra to quell their fears, but much more in the collapse of sustainable civilization structures.

    I’ll spare you with other connective tissues such as an endemically corrupt leading class, a moribund middle-class focused on the next big thing (that would be, eh, ahm, whatever, dude, okay, a GMC tank with a V16 man. Mpg? 3, yeah baby!), and a poor group so disenfranchised, their dreams are to fukk everyone over, like they’re being continuously fukked up the rear. Maybe that’s why that’s a new trend, whether gay or not?

    So, back to your take on teachers handling their assigned subjects. I’d say, yes, that would be good. Teachers are often not a paragon of wisdom, as I witness quite frequently dealing with them via my own school-age children. But, the “remainder”, as you said, should be taken care of by parents. Problem is, many parents are even less qualified that teachers. Problem is, many parents don’t have the time to be handling the remainder, as they’re so preoccupied going to work paying for that V16 truckomatic in the driveway. Problem is, masses of parents couldn’t care less.

    Sorry, Cornelius, to make this thread a dead-end, again, but the truth isn’t pretty. Even more so because I don’t see a solution in sight. I wish I could be a believer and say: “That’s what voting is for! We’re in a democracy, aren’t we?” That too, I contest quite affirmatively.

  49. As a straight, senior, CHRISTIAN girl at WAHS, I personally have no objection to the triangles that are on several of the classroom doors. In one of my classes we have discussed this issue and discovered that the majority of the students had no objections to the triangles. I don’t think that they encourage students to be homosexual, they are just reminders to any student that may be having issues with his/her sexuality that they can discuss these issues with certain members of the staff. I don’t see a problem with that! It isn’t as though the triangles are signs that say, "I’ll teach you how to be a homosexual." Albemarle County Schools need to reach out to all students, even those who are having issues with their sexuality- especially when a significant percentage of teenage suicides are committed by students who are homosexual and ashamed of what society considers an "aberration." As to the comment that if one symbol is allowed on a doorway, then every symbol should be permitted: so what if they are? As long as symbols don’t advocate a group that is racist or discriminatory towards another group (i.e. Ku Klux Klan stickers) then they should be permitted. The triangles are but a mere sticker in the world that is Western Albemarle High School…maybe a different issue would be more beneficial to discuss with the school board. Maybe I’m just a know-nothing high schooler, but my faith has taught me to be accepting of all groups of people.

  50. my question was not about the etymology or the greek root words, but about the MEANING people attach to it. if all it means is what you’ve stated, then i feel confident in asserting that i lack any homophobia anywhere in my being.

  51. "Albemarle County Schools need to reach out to all students, even those who are having issues with their sexuality…."

    sorry, but i think that is a ridiculous statement. are you saying they have to accomodate anything?

    "especially when a significant percentage of teenage suicides are committed by students who are homosexual and ashamed of what society considers an ‘aberration.’ "

    i’ve heard this used again and again to justify the promulgation of gay rights propaganda. could i ask, is this really a problem in albemarle county? has it happened here recently? has a despairing gay child committed suicide around here recently?

    "Maybe I’m just a know-nothing high schooler, but my faith has taught me to be accepting of all groups of people. "

    i hope your christian faith has taught you to love god with your whole heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love your neighbor as your self. i hope that’s what you mean by "…to be accepting of all groups of people," because faith that doesn’t discriminate between goodness and evil, between truth and falsehood, stands on shifting sand.

    i’d love to hear more about what a broad swath of WAHS kids think. do you have a diverse group of friends that might be willing to comment?

  52. my question was not about the etymology or the greek root words

    that’s why I didn’t provide it.

    i feel confident in asserting that i lack any homophobia anywhere in my being

    that’s what I would have answered to Lisa SuperPro, as I don’t think she was there to ‘dig deep’ into the issue.

  53. I’m very confused about your intentions, biff. On one side, you seem reasonable with your stance on questioning the validity of putting up a single symbol, that of gay folks (rainbowy or not [will]).

    On another side, you seem intent on championing what others are saying, or at least what you’ve said you’ve heard others say, rather than promoting what you yourself believe.

    Then there’s a stink with Waldo, halfway justifiable, perhaps, as he misquoted even the Hook article you say was already inaccurate as it is. Plus you’re looking for a limelight with Lisa SuperPro and a free lunch on the Mall. Plus plus you want to instigate and arbitrate WAHS kids’ comments.

    Now you say there’s no reason to be concerned, in essence, with gay suicide since you can’t recall it being an event in your tiny corner of Albemarle county (or the whole HUGE county, for that matter).

    I got to tell ya. Initially, I felt some simpatico with your quest to not promote a gay agenda, but now I’m getting little voices whispering biff may be far less altruistic than he was leading on.

    To state my position: I do feel a rainbow triangle, by itself, promoted in our schools is objectionable. However, gays and other constituencies out of the mainstream certainly do deserve consideration, even additional consideration.

  54. let’s un-dead end it (maybe resurrect is a better word)

    you’ve gotten at the issue pretty well. the triangles never were that big a deal to me. one was posted on my 9th grade daughter’s guidance counselor’s door, so it caught my attention, and led to a few questions (fyi, my daughter’s guidance counselor is wonderful, she was kind to me on numerous occasions as i was learning the ropes when my oldest started at western 2 years ago, and is just a real gentlelady who is excellent at her job. she has been unfailingly polite and open through this admittedly somewhat difficult time (unlike the principal and others in central administration) she has my full confidence in dealing with my daughter, and for now we’ve agreed to disagree about the triangle on her door.

    just a couple questions later, and i was truly, deeply concerned. i started to hear about a "teacher orientation" done as part of the opening school faculty meetings. MARY RODRIGUEZ, a former appointed school board member, had been to WAHS to orient the teachers about adolescent seuality. it turned out that she had also been to AHS and MHS, and who knows what other county schools this year. ms rodriguez is well known around the community for her outspoken support for what i and many others consider to be the radical end of the spectrum of homosexual rights advocacy. i have seen her and her gay child on cville public access tv discussion shows prosletyzing the full gay rights program. she is the head of the cville chapter of PFLAG, and if you went to their main web page and put in a cville area zip code, the phone number that came back was ms rodriguez home telephone number.

    then i got a copy of the materials ms rodriguez used in her tutorial/orientation and i was even more concerned. i had seen some of the materials before on as part of their "fight the right handbook" (a work that deeply dismays me). (anyone who would like me to fax them a copy of the materials she used, email me at with a fax number, and i’ll send it tonight after work) i’ve been told she intends to orient the teachers at every school in albemarle county.

    so i talked to the next level. i talked to charlene green, the coordinator for equity and diversity for the county schools and she told me that she personally is working to start a straight-gay alliance at albemarle high school, i assume as part of her job description. ms green said she is satisfied with the state of the sga at monticello, and hopes one can be started some day soon at western. i attended a meeting of the county schools EQUITY and DIVERSITY committee and after a long and tedious presentation (powerpoint hell), as part of the discussion that followed, one staff member wondered aloud to the group whether these statistics (concerning the racial achievement gap) shouldn’t be kept from the rabble, i mean the public, because they might be misconstrued and prove divisive. she said she was in favor of collecting such data, because it was helpful to "enlightened people" (i kid you not, she used the word "enlightened"), such as those in the room at the time (including dr castner, ms green, mr kolezar, and ms rodriguez and about 20 others) they didn’t talk about gay issues before i left, but the upper parking lot at murray was full of cars with gay rights bumper stickers.

    so i went to the superintendant, dr castner. when he left the E&D committee meeting, i followed him out and got to speak to him in the hall, and to my great surprise he told me that he had known nothing about the triangle stickers, that he’d gotten my email about the subject and would need some time to look into it and get up to speed, could i get back to him next week. the next day i dropped off a copy of the materials ms rodriguez had used (in all 3 of his high schools that fall), he had his secretary make a copy of them and said he’d get back to me. i met with him a week later (2 weeks ago today). steele howen, the ex-principal of monticello was there, she’s now his executive assistant for yadda yadda, and he let her lead off. she tried multiple arguments, none of which held any weight, such as: the triangles don’t mean what i think they mean; they mean something different to the kids; she is responsible not just for the PHYSICAL safety but the PSYCHOLOGICAL safety of every child in the system; it’s not a political symbol; on and on and on. so eventually dr castner dismissed her and we talked and watched some video i’d brought, and talked some more. he thanked me, told me he was going to support the decision of the school, and told me to feel free to continue to pursue the issue to a higher level.

    on the way home, heading out garth road, sitting on the bench outside of hunt country corner actually, i got a call on my cell from courtney stuart of the hook who’d heard something about triangles at western. i went over to talk to her, and she seemed ok, so we agreed to meet on monday. come monday, they pulled the switch and i ended up dealing with lisa provence over the phone, but all things considered, it didn’t turn out too badly. but the media swirl has been a little much. i hope never to be on the news again.

    i finally got to speak to the school board last thursday during public comment, and provided them with a copy of ms rodriguez’ handouts. my friend oliver went with me, he got there to late to sign up to speak (not his fault, i had been told the wrong time), but he was the lone clapper at the end of my 3 minutes who was mentioned in some of the press reports. i got a letter from diantha mckeel yesterday, thanking me for my input, informing me they were still waiting for the superintendant to get back to them in writing, and after he did they would let me know what, if anything, they would do next.

    i have a feeling they are going to hear from a few more folks come the next school board meeting on thursday, november 6th.

    "but the truth isn’t pretty. Even more so because I don’t see a solution in sight. I wish I could be a believer and say: “That’s what voting is for! We’re in a democracy, aren’t we?” That too, I contest quite affirmatively. " -sympatico’s last post

    come on man, vote on tuesday. do you live in the county? kick the dysfunctional, 1st amendment violating, socialist/idealogue/politically correct buttheads off the school board. what business do they have running that $100 million corporation of OURS like they were the cosa nostra?

    how did mary rodriguez get to address all county high school teachers with her crap? (i know of a few who walked out)

    how did it happen in all 3 high schools without the superintendant’s knowledge?

    doesn’t this whole matter fall under the penumbra of "family life education", and doesn’t this violate the board’s own FLE policy?

    any other school board policies that might have been violated here? (check them out at )

    am i the only one who thinks this is a gross violation of the first amendment to the constitution (you know, "we the people….")

    would they allow an upside down rainbow cross symbol if i said it was a symbol of diversity?

    don’t they care about the people of albemarle, who by and large know little or nothing about the cville gay subculture, but don’t care to have much to do with the whole topic?

    does the school board realize how radical this stuff plays to the average person in western albemarle?

    do they care, because it sure doesn’t seem like they do.

    it seems like a liberal elite is dictating to their ignorant constituents how they should think and feel about a very sensitive, generally thought to be religious subject, and forcing their views on the children of the populace, leaving the taxpaying citizen helpless to effectively respond, and the concerned parent even more so.

  55. Wow, I’d say you’re not too bad at the proselytization techniques yourself :)

    I’m also equally impressed with your seemingly tireless energies to focus on this issue. I would *not* like to be on the targeted end of your aim, I can tell you that!

    That said, your decidedly long and intricate quest to get to the bottom of this particular story must be contrasted with the normalcy of the situation — now described colorfully with the popular SNAFU acronym — (other than your decidedly unusual tenacity). I mean, you say:

    it seems like a liberal elite is dictating to their ignorant constituents how they should think and feel about a very sensitive, generally thought to be religious subject, and forcing their views on the children of the populace, leaving the taxpaying citizen helpless to effectively respond, and the concerned parent even more so.

    Could we not simply substitute “liberal” with “conservative” within your text? Sure we can! Go ahead, try it! In fact, to me, it makes even more sense utilized that way. In America circa 2003, conservatives in the White House and on Capitol Hill are wiping the slate clean on every issue…

    Here, again, I quote you:

    come on man, vote on tuesday. do you live in the county? kick the dysfunctional, 1st amendment violating, socialist/idealogue/politically correct buttheads off the school board. what business do they have running that $100 million corporation of OURS like they were the cosa nostra?

    Come on, man! Let’s shorten this: Are you a Bush supporter? [‘cuz I ain’t!!!]

    And if you think Bush and Co., and the entire state of America’s economy and society are NOT subjects related to what you’re saying, then you are either naïve or you have an ulterior motive. I mean, almost every aspect of our modern culture relies on a form of deception. The “We Try Harder” slogans really mean “We don’t give a Shit about You [and we’ll get you to pay up Harder]”, and the “compassionate conservative” moniker is there to obfuscate the true intentions of abandoning all social programs. “We love to fly and it shows” translates to “We’ll make ourselves comfortable while we squeeze you into a seat designed for canned sardines”. Also, “We’re on overhead company”, instead of “it’s cheaper for us, so go fly a kite [and tap into a lightening power source].” Or, “Quality is Job One”, whilst your Ford Focus gets recall after recall.

    You get it, I could go and on. What I am saying, is that the hidden agendas of Ms. Rodriguez are representative of the way of life in the good’ole USA today. Whether I agree with her agenda or not, she’s simply employing all the wonderful methods prevalent in all aspects of our everyday lives.

    And the vote on Tuesday won’t change a thing about that either.

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