I was so happy to read your editorial, “An example to follow” (The Landmark View, June 29). You praised all of the progressive actions by the village of Oak Park throughout the decades from housing to gun laws. You especially praised their reaction to the overturning of Roe vs. Wade.
As a teacher at Riverside-Brookfield High School for almost four decades and a resident of Riverside for over three decades, I have seen many changes in citizens’ viewpoints.
When Oak Park and River Forest High School started their Gay-Straight Alliance Club, I read about it in their local paper. I thought it was a terrific idea to create a safe place for students to discuss these kinds of issues.
When I brought it up at a faculty meeting — I think it was the late 1990s or early 2000s — I was almost laughed out of the room. The superintendent at the time said, “Riverside is not Oak Park.” I replied, “Truer words were never spoken.”
But after a lawsuit was filed by a gay student who was harassed in class, the school changed its tune. They started this club and hired an openly gay counselor. I was proud to see that the club remained intact even when half the clubs were slashed in 2011, due to the massive failure of a tax referendum.
Oak Park can teach every community many ways to handle controversial issues in a humane and sane manner. Your editorial provides a glimmer of hope.