Stacey Campfield, the virulently anti-gay Tennessee state senator who has made headlines the past year for his homophobic and false comments about HIV/AIDS, sex, and homosexuality, may lose his hall of fame status from his old high school. Campfield attended Vestal High School in southwestern New York state.
Campfield repeated has claimed that it is “virtually impossible” to contract HIV/AIDS through heterosexual sex. He’s also said, “[Homosexuals] do not naturally reproduce. It has not been proven that it is nature. It happens in nature, but so does beastiality That does not make it right or something we should be teaching in school.”
If the Vestal Board of Education doesn’t have a way to remove a controversial Tennessee state senator from its Hall of Fame, high school teacher Charlie Arbuiso has a suggestion: a screwdriver.
Sen. Stacey Campfield’s portrait hangs on Vestal High School’s Hall of Fame, alongside surgeons, an astronaut, educators and other prominent graduates. However, some Vestal alumni, staff and students feel the conservative senator’s picture should be taken down, based on comments he has made concerning homosexuality and AIDS. Campfield, who sponsored his state’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill that would ban teachers from discussing homosexuality, made national headlines in January following an interview on Sirius XM radio during which he discussed the origin and transmission of AIDS.
“If I as a teacher spewed his homophobic rhetoric, I would be fired on the spot,” said John Perricone, a Vestal Class of 1977 graduate who has taught at Maine-Endwell High School for 29 years. “If the students of your school made the comments, they would likely be suspended.”
Earlier Tuesday, [Superintendent Mark] LaRoach cited part of the district’s mission statement, which seeks to have students “demonstrate an awareness of social, cultural and civic responsibilities for participating in a democratic society.” The disagreement over Campfield’s statements is part of that conversation.
“It’s certainly something we take seriously,” he said. “I think our students are well-prepared to handle this.”
That doesn’t sit well with other advocates for Campfield’s removal. Leaving his picture up, they say, ultimately condones bullying. Arbuiso cited figures from the Centers for Disease Control showing that 80 percent of gay teens endure verbal harassment, 40 percent physical harassment and 20 percent assault, and they’re twice as likely to attempt suicide.
“I’m disgusted that a person like Campfield would be considered a shining star,” junior Connor Henderson told the board.
Campfield, a member of the Class of 1986, was inducted in 2008. The Hall of Fame committee vetted Campfield at that time and didn’t encounter any statements similar to those he made in the past year, LaRoach said.
The Tennessean adds:
Several people denounced Campfield at an apparently raucous school board meeting in Vestal, N.Y., the small town near Binghamton where the Knoxville Republican grew up.
The group called for his portrait to be taken down from Vestal High School’s Hall of Fame, with one woman shouting “Cowards” at school board members when they did not immediately agree to do so, according to the Press & Sun-Bulletin, a Gannett sister paper.
Campfield told the paper they “are welcome to their point of view.”
The source of the controversy is a view Campfield shared with a radio host in January that AIDS entered the human population via a sexual encounter with a monkey. (Most scientists believe humans first contracted AIDS by eating infected primate meat.)
A Vestal student took issue with Campfield’s comments in a front page editorial that ran earlier this month in the school newspaper that called his views abusive. The editorial did not call for Campfield’s removal from the Hall of Fame, but others at the school quickly did so, calling his views on homosexuality counter to district policy.
Campfield says he stands by his views.
“While I do not hate them I do not support sodomy,” he told the Press & Sun-Bulletin. “The homosexual lifestyle is dangerous and deadly.”
Actually, Senator, “the homosexual lifestyle” is not “dangerous and deadly,” but spreading lies and hate is.
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