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The following report was presented to the Halifax school board on April 2, 2001 by Donald Towne, a concern citizen from the town of Wilmington.  For The Children, Inc. would like to thank Donald for allowing us to make this report available on this site. 

To the Halifax School Board

     Halifax, Vermont

                                                                                 Re: “Teen Leadership Conference”
                                                                                 Trinity College, Burlington
                                                                                  March 15 & 16, 2001

Dear Fellow Educators:
 
 

            I would like to first introduce myself to this Board. My name is Donald Towne; I am a 7th generation Vermonter, and a graduate of Middlebury College, Class of 1959. I received my training as a schoolteacher at Boston University and at Plymouth State Teachers College in New Hampshire. I taught school for many years, both in New Hampshire and in North Carolina. I am the father of three daughters who, I am proud to say, all attended fine colleges, one graduating from the University of New Hampshire, and one from William and Mary in Virginia. I think it can safely be said that I am not against public education! In fact, I firmly believe that the American principle of UNIVERSAL EDUCATION is the key to the success of that great experiment in freedom known as our American Constitutional Republic, founded upon the principle of the SOVEREIGNTY OF THE PEOPLE. What I am deeply concerned about here tonight is that we do not betray our children in any way as we strive together to provide them with the best preparation for life, and with the highest quality of education.
 
 

            I am grateful to your Superintendent of Schools Peter Wright, both for his open-mindedness in listening to our concerns, and for his gracious invitation to have me attend the “Teen Leadership Conference” in Burlington, in the capacity of an Advisor to the Halifax Elementary School group of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. It was an honor to be asked, and I should like to tell you of my observations there.
 
 

                                                              I.
 
 

            Before doing so, I would like to quickly establish some common ground of understanding on basic principles. We are blessed to live in a free society. Unlike totalitarian societies such as Nazi Germany or Communist Russia, our children do not belong to the state, neither do they belong to the government-run schools. Children belong to their parents, to their mothers and fathers, who not only have the ultimate responsibility for their upbringing, but who have the primary responsibility and basic right to educate their children as they see fit, to teach their belief system and their values to those children. Children are not born with values: they must be taught (by precept and example). According to the time-honored, timeless principles of Natural Law, such teaching is solely the responsibility of the parents. If those parents choose to DELEGATE that responsibility to a school or to a community, they may do so; but they have the God-given right to make that choice, and also to hold that school and those teachers accountable for how well they handle  that sacred responsibility of being entrusted with the education of a precious and innocent child. 
 
 

            As proof of where the final authority lies for the education of a child, I need only point to the fact that the State of Vermont recognizes that it is parents who hold that ultimate authority – for Vermont recognizes the right of every parent to pull their child out of public school, and to join the increasing number of Vermonters who home school their children (one of the oldest traditions of American education). It is no coincidence that home schooled children have proven to be some of the highest academic achievers in America.

                                                             II.
 
 

            The “Teen Leadership Conference” opened in the auditorium at Trinity College with an excellent juggling act by Speaker Bill Ross who offered advice to the children throughout his entire program. His act was very entertaining, and his advice was sound, although I noticed that he never once mentioned the word “parents”, referring several times to “the folks at home” instead. I also noticed that the word “marriage” was never mentioned by Mr. Ross, nor was it ever mentioned later during the workshops amid heavy discussions of teenage sex. Other than Bill Ross, the Conference appeared to be run entirely by women from an outfit called Green Mountain Prevention Projects, whose director Holly Wilkinson-Ray, welcomed us all, and immediately informed us that adult advisors would not be allowed in certain workshops which she specified were only for the students! Due to my last minute enrollment, I was given an “advisors packet” at the registration desk which had the name of the Readsboro School advisor on it.  Readsboro had cancelled their participation sometime after I had spoken with their Principal David Switz on the previous day to protest the inclusion of a workshop by
Outright Vermont, a radical homosexual group. The last I knew, Readsboro had planned to send 13 students.
 
 

            Pastor Mark Monroe of the West Halifax Bible Church had also been invited to attend the Conference as a Halifax School advisor. He had been turned away from the first workshop (#14 in the agenda brochure) entitled “Talkin’ Sex: Common Concerns & Hot Topics for Middle School Students,” conducted by a Hilary Kaufman from Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE” on the agenda brochure). Immediately after that workshop, I requested an interview with Miss Kaufman. She refused my request to attend the next Planned Parenthood workshop on Friday, saying that the students would be intimidated if an adult were present (yet had allowed a TV
media cameraman into the workshop). I personally believe it would have not been the children, but Miss Kaufman who would have felt intimidated and constrained from speaking openly about subjects she well knows would be offensive to many parents. She next denied my request to tape record the Friday workshop. I persisted by telling her that I was writing a report for Halifax parents and concerned citizens worried about the cover-up and secrecy surrounding the Conference. She then volunteered that it had been a question & answer session. When pressed for examples, she said that in response to one child’s question, “Is masturbation normal?” she had replied that it “ must be normal because so many people engage in it.” Please remember that most of these children whom you have sent to this “Teen Leadership Conference” are not yet even teenagers, but are 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, and still very much children! The next question she discussed was from a boy who asked, “How do homosexuals have sex?” She said her answer addressed many ways in which “two people can please one another in a sexual relationship, including both oral sex and anal sex” – and that she had explained in detail what these two acts were all about. Being cautious, I did not press her for details.
 

            Do you people really wonder that so many parents and citizens of Halifax are upset with you that such a delicate subject should be coldly discussed by a stranger
before a roomful of forty children, and, even worse, without a moral perspective being included in the presentation, as would be done by a thoughtful parent in the privacy of
the child’s home? Would you want your own child taught by such a stranger?
 
 

                                                             III.
 
 

            The first workshop of the afternoon was entitled, “AIDS 101,” sponsored by a very pro-active homosexual organization named “Vermont Cares.” All three instructors were quite obviously in support of homosexuality as a “normal, natural, healthy, and acceptable  lifestyle.” I decided not to ask permission to attend this one, which had been on the list of workshops prohibited to adult advisors, so marched in behind the group of 40 young students, went straight to the back of the room as the children were seating themselves, and heard never a word of protest from the instructors presenting the workshop. Various so-called “myths” about AIDS were presented and discussed, as well as four ways it could be transmitted. No moral guidelines were presented. Condoms were promoted as the only way to have “safe sex,” and assurances were given that they were over 99% foolproof (which many of the medical community dispute).
 
 

            A 35 year old homosexual was asked to speak about how he dealt with facing death, and easily managed to win the sympathy of the students. He told how, years ago, one of his lovers had died of AIDS in California, and how he had “stayed with him, and seen him through until the end.” Then he told how he had caused his own HIV infection by foolishly failing to use a condom during a sexual relationship – and that he hoped to live five more years until a cure was found, presumably by drug company research. After expressing that hope for a cure, he then proceeded to harshly condemn the “greedy” drug companies for profit-making off their drugs “while poor people were dying” – totally ignoring the fact that his hope for a cure depended upon the costly research of those same drug companies, research which is funded by their profits! I felt it totally inappropriate for him to make such a political statement in a forum ostensibly for educational purposes, especially since the Conference was sponsored by Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
 
 

            “Vermont Cares” passed out a comment sheet, asking every child to fill one out, and to include information about themselves in 4 categories: age, gender, ethnicity, and language. Since we were all Americans, I felt it most strange for Vermont Cares to inquire into racist categories like African American, Asian, Pacific Islander, Latino, or Native American. The gender question is what puzzled me the most; those children were asked to check the appropriate box out of 6 choices – male, female, transgendered male to female, transgendered female to male,  transsexual male to female, or transsexual female to male!!! (I had to check the dictionary on those!) We are talking about pre-teen children here! To me, this clearly shows both the direction of the Conference, and an unnatural obsession with sex which is absolutely wrong for those instructing a classroom of children this age. Furthermore, this was a clear affront to the children’s privacy.
 
 

                                                             IV.
 
 

            I carefully watched the faces of the children around that long conference table. Some, especially a few boys, took a “macho” attitude about the topic. One little girl named Karen, an absolutely beautiful child, was wide-eyed as she stared at the table; I will never forget the fear in her eyes! It haunts me. What has been done to those children in the name of education? The little boy next to Karen folded his arms, put his head down upon them, and held that position for the entire hour, looking up only a few
times. He definitely did not want to hear any of it! Every child is an individual, unique and wonderful, who must be allowed to grow and mature at their own speed. None of them are concerned with sexuality at the same age level or the same moment as every other child. That is why they need the guidance of the parents who know them best. For any stranger to force this upon children in the pursuit of an adult agenda, is cruel and outrageous. To lump 40 such children around a conference table while strangers coldly and clinically discuss embarrassing and delicate sexual topic is nothing short of child abuse!
 
 

            A sensitive child can be easily (and dangerously) traumatized by such an experience as you at the Halifax School have forced upon these children, by recommending and allowing their participation in this Conference, and doing so deceitfully behind the backs of the parents. I really believe you have left the Halifax School wide open to a lawsuit by your wrongful and deceitful promotion of this Conference in deliberate violation of the rights of the parents.
 
 

            The Thursday part of the Conference closed following the two afternoon workshops with an event in the auditorium entitled “Guerilla Theatre” which was nothing but crude, crass, and disgusting. Why does sex have to be brought down to gutter level humor? Why? – when procreation, birth, family, and marriage are some of the most beautiful and sacred aspects of the human experience? It is especially sad that the once-honorable profession of schoolteacher should be so degraded as to endorse such behaviour as was promoted by that mis-labeled “Teen Leadership Conference.” It is both a shame and a disgrace that, in the eyes of those children, it was endorsed by the Halifax School and by those they have been taught to look up to and respect! In doing so, you have not only harmed children, but you have betrayed the trust, and offended the principles and moral values of a large segment of the community. Furthermore, you have undercut the authority of the parents, the very people for whom you work!
 
 

                                                             V.
 
 

            At your last School Board meeting on March 12th, a group of upset and angry parents and some of their fellow citizens came to your meeting in protest of the Halifax School participation in this so-called “Teen Leadership Conference.” Why were they there?
 
 

      1.       The school had sent home permission sheets for parents to sign, giving permission for their child to attend an event with the innocuous title of “Teen Leadership Conference”--- certainly flattering to a 6th, 7th, or 8th grader. Your permission slip explained NOTHING about the nature or content of the Conference. 

      2.       One young girl revealed to her mother how the students were told that the agenda brochure describing the 14 scheduled workshops was “not to leave the school building.” (I will provide names if and when it becomes necessary.)

      3.       One scheduled workshop was conducted by a thoroughly discredited homosexual organization called “Outright Vermont,” part of whose deliberate strategy is not to tell the parents, and much of whose funding (according to their Web Site) comes from a private foundation funding “radical social change.” The Dean Administration publically announced last November that all state funding for Outright Vermont was being cut. I have proof with me tonight that Outright Vermont distributes disgusting pornographic material to children, material which I would be embarrassed to show in mixed company! (You may view it privately if you wish to.) The Outright Vermont workshop was cancelled at the last minute.

      4.       At least 12 of the 14 workshops on your Conference agenda brochure involved moral issues. There was no balance to this Conference, no workshops on actual leadership,  no workshops on marriage, no workshops on abstinence or about the value of the traditional two-parent family as the best protection for a child. This Conference was all about undermining the traditional family, and the promotion of a value system and agenda very much at odds with the value system of most parents as well as the taxpayers who support the school. Once exposed, the participation of the Halifax School should have been cancelled.

      5.       Parents generally are unaware of what these groups promote. They trust the school; and by your deception, you have violated that trust. I strongly urge that full accountability is in order, without protecting those responsible for this fiasco. This Board has a clear duty to determine who is responsible for (a) this deception, and (b) who promoted Halifax School’s participation in this outrageous conference. I believe such a person or persons should be fired if you are to restore public confidence in your school.
 
 

                                                             VI.
 
 

            From my personal observations, from my study of the printed materials pertinent to the Conference, and from the well-known bias and established agendas of several participating groups, it is clear to me that the promotion of the acceptance of homosexuality as “normal, natural, healthy, and acceptable behaviour” is not only a lie, not only intellectually dishonest, but is the carefully–crafted hidden agenda of this Conference, and as such, is highly offensive to a large group of parents and to a large portion of the community! You have proven that the promotion of homosexuality is happening in our public schools. It is clear that this conference has a radical agenda, designed to promote homosexuality and promiscuous sex. The Halifax School has participated in a brainwashing session that is strangely akin to the manipulative tactics of the Hitler Youth Movement. Your involvement jeopardizes public education by undermining public trust in the public schools. You have gone a long way towards encouraging the privatization of our schools, towards school choice across-the-board in order to protect parental rights, towards a school voucher system; and in addition, you have exposed
the aggressive leftist political agenda of the NEA monopoly which has been accused of having a stranglehold over our public schools. At the very least, this Board and the Halifax School have been manipulated by a select few who are determined to push their agenda and subvert the authority of parents.
 
 

         Children must be protected. I am sure everyone in this room would agree, that is the first and foremost priority of any civilized society. I should like to thank Pastor Mark Monroe of your West Halifax Bible Church for his diligence in fulfilling his duty as a Pastor within the community by striving to protect the moral climate of the community, and especially by serving as the conscience of the community in protecting our children. It is not easy; the easy path would have been to sit quietly by and remain silent. West Halifax Bible Church could not have a finer Pastor, or a more courageous defender of traditional American values. 

                                                    Sincerely yours,
 

                                                    Donald M. Towne
 

P.O. Box 100

Wilmington, Vermont 


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