By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com June 14 2012 3:32 PM ET
A group of residents in Vestal, N.Y., are campaigning for their local high school to remove a Tennessee state senator and former student from its hall of fame, because of his controversial remarks on homosexuality and HIV/AIDS.
Stacey Campfield, who sponsored Tennessee's controversial "don't say gay" bill, graduated from Vestal High School in 1986. He was inducted into the hall of fame in 2008 alongside surgeons, educators, astronauts, and other notable alumni, according to WBIR News. However, Campfield's recent statements on homosexuality and his sponsorship of the bill have students and fellow graduates lobbying the Vestal board of education to remove him from the hall of fame.
Nisha Dalvie, a senior, wrote a front-page editorial in the school newspaper calling Campfield's words and actions "abusive," and urged administrators to stand up to discrimination.
"Senator Stacey Campfield's unabashed homophobic rhetoric and his blatant ignorance regarding how AIDS is transmitted serves only to oppress, hurt, and diminish the dignity of other human beings while at the same time fueling the cause of bullies everywhere," educator John Perricone, class of 1977, said according to WBIR.
Campfield, responding to the controversy, wrote a letter to the local newspaper, the Press & Sun-Bulletin. "While I do not hate them, I do not support sodomy," he wrote. "The homosexual lifestyle is dangerous and deadly."
Superintendent Mark LaRoach said the controversy should invite an open discussion, but has indicated that Campfield will not be removed from the hall of fame.