AMBRIDGE - The gay issue just won't go away.In fact, Daniel Zak, an Ambridge Area High School senior, told the school board Wednesday night that attitudes have worsened toward gay students and their friends since a new gay and lesbian club was established.
Last month, Adam Smith, an Ambridge senior who founded the Gay-Straight Alliance, spoke publicly, saying that he was offended over some derogatory terms used by board member William Scherfel, who referred to the group as a "sex club" and "the faggots." The board approved the club in October.
Smith explained the club's mission: to promote diversity and confront discrimination and homophobia.
"That was very brave of him, it took a lot of courage, but it's gotten to be worse than it was before," Zak said.
Specifically, Zak said there have been more remarks, jokes, and people pointing and laughing. "Now it's really blown out of proportion. They're getting fingers pointed more than if they hadn't started the club," he said.
An Ambridge parent, who refused to give the board her name, asked about the need for the club, its dress code, potential speakers and field trips.
She also said she worried that club members could become militant and force other students into joining.
Principal Alan Fritz said students in the club will have the same rules and dress code as other students.
Fritz said that he respected the woman's views but that there are gay or lesbian students in the school who unfortunately are "targeted, harassed and picked on."
"It's not a free-for-all down there. I don't see any of these kids pressuring anybody. The majority there are not even homosexual. They are friends of the young man."
Superintendent Kenneth Voss said he attended the initial meeting, which was pretty much "routine." Voss said the students discussed election of officers, fund-raising activities and community service.
"I didn't hear anything about pressuring from GSA," Voss said.
Board member Brian Padgett said perhaps the entire student body should participate in diversity training if they are targeting those who are different from them.