- The Magazine
A Virginia county supervisor was criticized at a recent Board of Supervisors meeting for a Facebook rant alleging that an LGBTQ student club in one of the county’s four high schools was being given preferential treatment, particularly when compared to Christian student groups.
Wythe County Supervisor Stacy Terry posted a screed to Facebook, (incorrectly) claiming that students belonging to the Gender-Sexuality Alliance Club at Rural Retreat High School was allowed to meet during school hours, while a Christian-affiliated club was not.
Terry went on to bemoan what he sees as a lack of tolerance for Christians in public schools, citing the removal of prayer plaques at nearby Spiller Elementary School and Fort Chiswell Middle School in recent years. The plaques were removed in 2017 and 2019, respectively, after the school system received complaints from the Freedom from Religion Foundation that their presence inside a public school was unconstitutional, reports the Wytheville Enterprise.
In his post, Terry included a photo of a rainbow sticker reading “Espacio Seguro,” or “Safe Space,” which appears on the door of Rural Retreat High School language teacher Megan Patrick’s classroom.
“The photo on the right is of a classroom in one of our county high schools. It is a gay pride flag,” Terry wrote. “Translated to English it says safe space. I want to know where the classroom is with a picture of a cross and Bible that says safe space?”
Terry claimed in the post that he is not homophobic or opposed to anyone who is LGBTQ, insisting that he is simply “against indoctrination,” reports Roanoke NBC affiliate WSLS.
“I am sick and tired of hearing folks hide behind tolerance and equality!” he wrote. “Folks, welcome to the collapse of humanity, we bend over backwards to support anti-biblical values in our school systems, while we fight with every last dying breath to keep God out.
“In closing I want to assure everyone who voted for me and supported me I am a huge supporter of education, however when it comes time to vote for budgets I will be voting my Christian values and principles.”
Terry later amended the post, which received about 1,500 shares and generated hundreds of comments, after fellow Supervisor Rolland Cook, who is also the principal at Rural Retreat High School, informed him that the prayer club is not prohibited from meeting during school, just like the GSA.
Wythe County Schools Superintendent Scott Jeffries confirmed that all after-school clubs are allowed to meet during school hours on club day for 20 minutes every few weeks. He added that Patrick is within her rights to have the sticker on her door, and that the school supports all clubs equally, as they support and foster student growth and development.
Earlier this week, students, parents and community members packed a meeting to respond to Terry’s comments, with some demanding that he apologize while others demanded he be disciplined by the board or recalled from office for abusing his position.
Patrick, the teacher who posted the sticker on her classroom door, told Terry that her students “felt your hate, sir, but they’ve also felt so much love in this community and we know that love will win.”
Others objected to Terry’s contention that providing a “safe space” for LGBTQ students was a sign of the “collapse of humanity.”
“My daughter did not choose to be gay, we are Christians, we’ve been in church since the day she was born, she went to Christian pre-school, we have values and we have morals, but I feel like this post was made out of hate, just simply for my daughter being born and being who she is and to say that she’s not a Christian because she’s gay?” parent Shannon Doby said. “I don’t agree with that and I don’t agree with your post.”
But several other people defended Terry’s comments, saying the issue he raised about Christians being forced to remain silent about their beliefs in school is a salient one.
“[Terry] has known since we went to high school together that I am a lesbian,” local resident Kendra Eastwood said. “So for everyone to get up here and say he’s homophobic and he does not like gay people, that is completely false and unfounded.”
Terry declined to be interviewed by local media after the meeting, but gave a brief statement before exiting the dais.
“I appreciate everybody coming out on both sides and I than people for coming out and showing their passion and that’s it,” he said. “I do appreciate people coming out.”
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!