Reader Responds to School Speaker Controversy

October 28, 2019

Dear Editor:
I am writing in response to a two-part article in the Review regarding the school assembly speaker, Tina Marie Griffin aka Counter Culture Mom. 

After speaking at a student assembly in Clare and Farwell,  Harrison Schools decided to cancel her event.  It may have also been the case in Gladwin.  I understand that her services were paid for by an outside group so that it was provided at no cost to the school. 

After looking at one of her video’s and web presence, I wonder who this group is?  Particularly because one of the school representatives mentioned this group provided funding on previous occasions.  Given limited budgets within many school districts, this may have seemed like a welcome gift.  Life has taught me that many such gifts come with strings attached.  It is only an assumption on my part but it appears that one of the costs was to give voice to discrimination.  An issue the Clare School System is already dealing with in regard to the removal of a teacher.

The speaker self labels as a Mom.  If parents were looking for assistance from a peer to assist them in some form of media filter or responding to their teens interest in content they object to (based on religion or not), then having a presentation for those parents makes sense. 

Allowing the speaker who has very specific biases (as clearly demonstrated on her web site) to present in a full student assembly is not only unwise it could have increased tensions among students on very emotionally charged issues.  While the financial cost to the school was covered by this outside group, there may be long term costs in terms of the schools ability to provide a safe and inclusive learning environment.   

Personally, I have always and still oppose exposing children to violent or sexually predatory behavior of any kind.  However, when moving from childhood to adulthood, preparation for dealing with the World-As-It-Is should be a part of the equation.  Morality is a factor whether you ascribe to a particular religious belief or not.  Open discussions are helpful.  Ones that include facilitation are also effective.  The bottom line is parents are responsible for imparting their beliefs to their children not the school system unless within the  context of learning.  The motto I found on the wall of a Catholic School Library many years ago sums up my idea of the role of learning in general.  It said  “Earnestly Inquire, Diligently Investigate and Ardently Pursue Truth.’  

Linda Waddell 

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