Virginia Gaffey’s 9-year-old daughter was escorted around school by a bodyguard – and eventually transferred to a different school – because of continued harassment from schoolmates in her elementary school.
Speaking to the School Committee, Gaffey claimed that Milton Public Schools, in Massachusetts, is failing to teach students about tolerance and diversity,
“They were actually training my daughter to don’t ask, don’t tell when my daughter was actually proud of her mom,” Gaffey said.
The bullying started after the girl told her third grade class that her mom is lesbian. Gaffey said her daughter’s difficult time at school had a profound effect, and she no longer feels comfortable discussing her family situation. Gaffey also criticized as “insensitive” what she says was advice given by a counselor at school that her daughter be careful about whom she discussed her family situation with.
Magdalene Giffune, Milton Schools Superintendent, denied the claim, saying that the assault on Gaffey’s daughter never occurred, adding that tolerance of gay parents is taught to children. The Milton School Committee is reviewing its diversity policies.
Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council also called for a structured curriculum that addresses family diversity, but said there was plenty that schools could do in the meantime to improve the climate.
“Teachers can be trained, it can be brought up at school forums, and talked about whenever family issues are raised in the classroom,” said Chrisler, the mother of two, adding that it is especially important given Massachusetts’ recognition of same-sex marriage.