THE EDITOR, Sir:
There appears to be no end to the continuing saga as Jamaicans clamour with the reality of what diversity entails in terms of public-school education.
However, there is a compelling reason for the Government to put strong measures in place to ensure that the young people of same-sex orientation do not withdraw from school because of the fear of homophobic expressions, intolerance and hate-mongering by students of heterosexual orientation.
Judging from the significant number of correspondence that I have received, I am convinced that a large number of same-sex students have initiated friendship ties among themselves. Fearing that the public-school system may not be able to guarantee the kind of support services necessary for their well-being, students of same-sex orientation have established strong bonds of friendship for protection.
A text message sent by one 10th-grader reads: "A solid bond of friendship is an effective measure to guarantee protection from other students who antagonise, ridicule and bully us."
"Bullied, harassed and intimidated" is how one upper-sixth-former characterised her experience before bonding with other students of non-traditional sexual orientation.
"We are not gangsters ... just cohorts for self-preservation," she said, "... and I am a Christian girl, church-going and celibate."
On their behalf, I submit that the Ministry of Education, school administrators and guidance counsellors continue to emphasise that a hostile school environment can have negative repercussions on a student's ability to succeed.
Additionally, the following may be worthy of consideration. Well researched and documented findings show that a high incidence of harassment causes increased absenteeism, decreased educational aspiration and lower academic performance.
These factors and many more will cause the children to fare less and ultimately become school drop-outs.
REV'D DR G. GEORGE
Springfield, St Elizabeth,