It’s taken time, but attitudes really have changed
To the editor:
Some might say that I’m overly sentimental, but when your new series “Difference Makers,” highlighting people making a difference in their communities, began Sunday, June 9, with a story titled “Methuen students created climate of acceptance,” I felt a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye.
Recognizing Zach Kerr and Brian Cook, two transgender young men from Methuen High School, and reading the sensitive and informative article by Douglas Moser about their respective achievements, brought to mind my 15 years as the Methuen High School Gay/Straight Alliance advisor.
As a retired English teacher at Methuen High, my thoughts returned to 1993, when Gov. William Weld instituted the Massachusetts Youth Commission to promote a Safe Schools Program for all the state’s secondary schools. Over the years, the Methuen High administration, its guidance counselors, teachers and student body gradually embraced the concept that sexual orientation and gender identification were not matters of choice but a natural, and, yes, confusing, part of the life of many teenagers.
After my retirement in 2007, I knew that my involvement with the LGBTQ community would continue. I began attending discussion groups and working with the Greater Boston PFLAG chapter, which is part of the national organization of PFLAG, designed to educate, support and advocate for Parents, Friends and Families of Lesbian and Gay youth, together with those who identify as transgender young people. Then in November 2010, we formed the first Merrimack Valley PFLAG Chapter, which meets monthly in Andover.
Zach and Brian’s involvement as speakers and representatives of the Massachusetts Youth Commission is the result of many years of arduous work and continual education geared toward school administrators, guidance counselors, teachers and, of course, students. Our hope is that all young people have the freedom and knowledge to attain their highest objectives and not fear for their lives or their futures. These two young men are on their way to becoming tomorrow’s leaders, thanks to their welcoming schools and communities.
Finally, we cannot discount the role that the parents and families of these two students have played in their lives. It has not been easy. Their mothers, fathers and siblings have persevered and were able to overcome hurtful and often discouraging situations. In addition, they have shown unbounded love and compassion when days were not so bright.
Again, thank you for providing your readers with a clearer insight into the LGBTQ community. These outstanding young men, Zach and Brian, are role models for future transgender teenagers; and I believe the clouds of fear and despair are beginning to fade. But, lest we forget, accolades must be given to their families and friends who will always be their strongest and most loving allies.
Jean L Matthes
Facilitator, Merrimack Valley PFLAG Chapter
Are Catholic schools divisive?
To the editor:
We laughed when Mitt Romney, soon after his arrival in the United Kingdom last year, criticized the Brits for the way they were handling the Olympics.
We might as well laugh at the president, who stumbled in Northern Ireland with his own foot-in-mouth gaffe, claiming that the Catholics and Protestants, with their separate schools, were not helping to bring about peace. “Catholic schools,” he said, “are divisive.”
The president might be justified in saying that if Catholic schools really did teach peace.
Would he want them to help bring about peace here? What could be more divisive and subversive than teaching peace in our militarized country?
What would be the outcome if Catholic schools and all other Christian schools, throughout this country and the world, really taught what Jesus taught?
The late, world-renowned, Biblical scholar Father John L. McKenzie explained very clearly: “If you do not know that the teachings of Jesus are teachings of nonviolence then you have missed his message.”
Jesus models the way to live for his followers. His way is compassion, mercy and love. He didn’t kill anyone, he didn’t advocate killing in war. Jesus commanded us to love one another, even our enemies.
Just take the money, New Hampshire
To the editor:
The New Hampshire Legislature has another significant vote coming up: Should the state accept federal Medicaid funds to expand health coverage for 58,000 hard-working Granite Staters?
It should be a no-brainer. The $2.5 billion in federal funding would help insure families — people — unable to secure health insurance. It would cause hundreds of jobs to be created in the New Hampshire economy.
This is good!
Meanwhile, we still have the anti-progress tea party/libertarian/Republicans in Concord, still voting, like the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., against anything that will help people. We all know a family or an individual needing health insurance, people who are between jobs through no fault of their own, who have children with disabilities, who are disabled, who are veterans.
These folks have no access to preventative care, and they have no alternative but the Emergency Room when they get sick. Emergency rooms are exorbitantly expensive.
This cost is passed back to those who are insured. Meanwhile, our senators and representatives in Concord have the opportunity to get federal funding to secure health care for thousands of New Hampshire families.
Our tea party/libertarian/Republican coalition wants to turn back this money. Who turns away money, especially money that will help thousands of state citizens?
Meanwhile, if New Hampshire doesn’t take this money it will go to other states.
As concerned citizens, need to insist our representatives in Concord — Reps. Gary Azarian, Ronald Belanger, Bianca and Marilinda Garcia, John Sytek, Anne Priestly, Patrick Bick, Robert Elliott and Joseph Sweeney, and Sen. Chuck Morse — accept this federal funding.
They let us down on the expanded gaming bill, costing thousands of jobs and an infusion of money to the economy in Salem and New Hampshire. Are they going to again vote against the wishes of the people?