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Battling since 1996

In last week's Public Eye column, you reported on the Gay-Straight Alliance battle that has been raging in the corners of Palmer High School since at least my freshman year there in 1996-97 (class of 2000).

It was utter bull fecal matter back then, and it still is today. The fact that two of the club's faculty sponsors have been put on paid leave is absolutely ludicrous, and should be tabulated with the district's final legal bill. Not only are they paying teachers to not teach, but they are also having to pay substitutes to come in and teach the classes for these two teachers, one of whom I know to be an outstanding, motivated and inspiring instructor.

Worse yet, when a club cannot advertise within the school by anything more than word of mouth, what other choice do they have than to go outside of the school to do so? I think that these two students should be commended for their creativity -- a cheap, easy and bio-degradable notification system. Those that punished these students should not only be punished themselves, they should write public letters of apology to the students, club, alumni and community for reacting so childishly.

The fact that such things are still occurring in the 21st century is abhorrent, frustrating and devastating, especially for someone who has been helping to fight this battle since 1996.

-- Christina (Salisbury) Palmer

Palmer class of 2000

Colorado Springs

Bigoted and vile

After finding out in the Indy that the District 11 school board officially recognized Gay-Straight Alliances (and other "non-academic" clubs), I was shocked to see that the worthless administrators at Palmer High School were still acting as bigoted and vile as ever towards their queer students.

First, however, I want to congratulate the members of Palmer's GSA for being resilient organizers who didn't compromise their values just because it was easier and less controversial to do so. As a Palmer High School alumnus, I remember Mary Margaret Nussbaum's article about queer youth in The Lever my freshman year. The fact that such a little thing caused so much outrage on the part of "compassionate conservatives" in our community was a sign of just how unsafe the environment of Colorado Springs is for queer youth. The members of Palmer's GSA are amazing and deserve recognition.

With that said, I would like to call out Palmer High School for being absolutely ridiculous. Not only are students being threatened with criminal charges for advertising their club, unless they submit to those in power, their teachers are being pressured into silence by the scare tactics of the administration.

I find it no coincidence that the two sponsors of Palmer's GSA have been put on a mysterious administrative leave. I took classes with Mr. Anton Schulzki for two years while I was at Palmer, and I know him to be an amazing teacher. The fact he is the head of the social studies department is probably a good sign he's not a bad educator.

While the education that Palmer's GSA has gotten in student organizing over the past few years has finally paid off, it looks like we all still have a lot to learn about the lengths people will go to institutionalize bigotry.

Here's wishing the Palmer High School Gay-Straight Alliance (and its faculty advisers!) many happy years of creating safe and nurturing spaces for all students. I am certain their legacy will far outlast that of Tom Kelly and all the other homophobes in District 11.

-- Laura Reinsch Palmer class of 2000

Colorado Springs

Take the back road

In her letter to the editor last week, Melissa Bays told us of the trials and tribulations of a bicyclist in our fair city. Within she complained about an SUV driver asking, "Hey, do you know what a sidewalk is?" and she copied a passage from the Colorado Driver Handbook, which said "Bicycles are considered 'vehicles' under state law and bicyclists generally have all the rights and responsibilities applicable to the driver of any other vehicle."

Well, she seems to not understand that one of those "responsibilities" would entail not "driving" so slow that traffic backs up behind her. After all, in that same manual we have a section discussing speed control, in which the phrase "does not impede traffic" shows up. I suspect that means you are supposed to keep a speed that is proper for the road you are on. If you can't keep up, maybe you shouldn't play with the big boys and keep your little toy on the back roads, where you aren't a hazard to other drivers.

I get that you are trying to save the world, but that requires sacrifice. Maybe using the major roads are one of those sacrifices you and your fellow cyclists will just have to make.

-- Scott Graves

Colorado Springs

'Stocks for Crocs

I read your Nov. 24 article about Crocs with interest, just after I had taken mine off after wearing them for the fifth day in a row. They are a delight. I've traded in my Birkenstocks for Crocs!

I love that I can wash them off in the yard or at the car wash, or take them in the shower with me, and I thought the dishwasher, as pictured, looked fun. Then I was reminded that my husband set one from my first pair in front of a heating vent and it shrunk -- not melted, but shrunk.

So I would warn against washing them in the dishwasher unless they were just air dried. I think if the heat were on for the drying cycle, there would be a good chance they would shrink ... though for those who wanted to adjust the size, that could be a possibility.

-- Cyndy Noel

Colorado Springs

No Passing Zone

I enjoyed reading your Nov. 24 article about mind-boggling growth in our city, about unfunded and incomplete road projects in El Paso County.

The article reminds me of my morning drive to work every day. I live on the east end of Woodmen Road in Peyton, where new homes are being built every day in the new subdivisions north and south.

I guess whoever planned for the new homes forgot to plan for the new additional traffic. I see that Highway 24 opened up and is now a four-lane highway, but those of us who still have to commute eastbound have the two-lane Woodmen Road to contend with.

Last year, they built a new Woodmen Road on the east end, but what was the point? We still have two lanes, now even more traffic lights, and now a double yellow line, which means no passing. Why did they not use the old Woodmen Road and make a four-lane road out of it, like they did with Highway 24?

I guess these people haven't seen the morning and evening traffic that commutes on Woodmen to and from these new subdivisions. I am even more sure the people who built the new Woodmen Road are not part of the morning and evening traffic. They are expanding Meridian Road to four lanes, which is almost completed, and yet Woodmen Road, which is a major traffic artery, is still a two-lane road with double yellow lines.

-- D. Tindal

Peyton

Peace on Earth

I would love to concur with last week's letter writer Brian Beatty about our peace camp in front of Toons having run its course -- except for the visitors every day who stop to express their support.

It's now our pleasant responsibility to inform everyone: Do not despair, the majority of those who honk or stop by feel the same as they do!

I'm sorry if you've found our anti-war message to be an eyesore. Hopefully our next banner will win you over. It's in the spirit of Christmas, so we're making it real big. Peace on Earth, good will toward all men!

-- Eric Verlo

Owner, Toons Music & Film

Colorado Springs

On the same page

I hope that the House Democratic caucus will all join in the decision to leave Iraq. It's the right thing to do because this war has become a moral blot on America.

U.S. troops are dying to defend a Shiite theocracy allied to Iran that operates death squads, tortures prisoners and fosters violent sectarianism. In support of that anti-democratic tribe, our forces are killing thousands of oppositionists for no useful reason.

The Bush administration, who lied to start this war and supports torture in secret prisons, ironically promotes this war as a giant struggle against terrorism.

Latest polls have shown that approximately two-thirds of Americans now believe that the war in Iraq wasn't worth fighting, and more than half say that the war in Iraq has not made the U.S. any safer. Democrats need to be on the same page in order to guarantee that the war in Iraq ends in 2006.

-- Sharlene White

Colorado Springs

Team player

"Team Jesus Christ." Uh, excuse me, Air Force Academy football coach Fisher DeBerry, but does that mean that if I don't "accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior," I'm not a part of the team? Or that I do not have the same acceptance and opportunities as my "Jesus" teammates?

If I spurn the evangelical proselytizing of the Focus on the Family groups, which seem to have full access to the Air Force Academy campus, am I not as good a cadet, or American for that matter?

The policies and actions of the head football coach have the endorsement of his employer, actual or implied. And the policies and actions of the AFA have the endorsement of our federal government, actual or implied. Allowing our government to endorse, either financially or by ideal, any particular religious viewpoint violates one of our nation's cornerstone concepts: the separation of church and state.

Why is this important? While the concept of freedom of speech does not serve nor satisfy everyone all of the time, nearly all of us agree that it is part of the foundation of freedom we as Americans enjoy. It allows for a balance of power and ideas, and it is one of the things that makes America the greatest country on Earth.

The same is true of separation of church and state. Give any religion a rulership inch, and they will take a mile. This is especially true of fundamentalists. They believe they have God's exclusive endorsement, and nothing they do in the name of what they believe God wants is out of bounds. When they are allowed power, soon anyone who does not agree with them begins to lose basic liberties and opportunities.

Maybe we can't expect a football coach to be responsible enough with his authority to keep his religious viewpoints out of the locker room. But we should expect our government (and its military branches) to protect us from whomever would violate our rights in our government's name.

-- William Denam

Colorado Springs

Skiing with clothes

After Aaron Retka referred to Warren Miller's latest ski movie, Higher Ground, as "alpine porn," it is obvious he knows nothing about the man or his films.

I have been a skier in Colorado Springs for 20 years. I've seen dozens of Warren Miller movies and have never seen pornography in any of them. Not only are his films the best ski movies in the world, they offer a glimpse into a man who is a legend among skiers. The next time you write a review, why don't you do some research!

If you were trying to be flip, all you have done is insult scores of Warren Miller fans.

-- B. Heiden

Colorado Springs

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