Once upon a time, Elizabethtown schools got national attention for all the wrong reasons. In 1996, the school board adopted what it called a “pro-family” resolution saying it supported families defined as “one man married to one woman and their children through birth or adoption.” Naturally, plenty of people took umbrage at this. Single parents and gay couples raising children felt slighted, and with good reason. And students took offense. Hundreds of students participated in a walkout, leading to more than 100 being suspended for their roles in the protest.
School board meetings, which normally draw small crowds, started drawing as many as 1,200 people. Eventually, the school board backed down a bit and replaced it with a milder resolution that said “the curriculum will not promote or encourage same-sex relationships or orientation.” In 2013, the school board voted to remove that from the school district’s policies.
Does anyone want to see a return to the days when the school board was thinking more about the citizens’ sex lives than about how to prepare students for their lives after high school? If so, there’s a clear choice for school board: Menno Riggleman. In the Advocate’s forum for school board candidates held Thursday, Oct. 26, Mr. Riggleman talked about gay couples and transgender students with a clear animus. If elected to the school board, he will have a platform for those views that he can use to embarrass us all while creating a distraction from the school district’s mission of quality education.
Two other candidates were notable in their absence: Andrew J. Esoldo and James Read. Mr. Esoldo said he could not make it to the forum because his job took him out of state, which is certainly a reasonable explanation. Mr. Read, however, had the arrogance to not only miss the forum but to ignore the Advocate’s request for an explanation.
The other candidates all gave thoughtful responses to questions. Incumbent Michelle Pelna has shown with her service that she is a valuable board member; newcomers Kelly Shaffer Fuddy and Erin Grosh showed promise. They all deserve our support.
It’s harder to judge Mr. Esoldo’s qualifications since he did not attend the forum, but at least he has not shown any reasons not to vote for him. Mr. Riggleman and Mr. Read, however, have demonstrated that they are unworthy to serve on the school board.
The preceding editorial is the opinion of The Elizabethtown Advocate. Other opinions on this page are those of individual contributors. The Advocate aims to give its readers a wide variety of opinions.