Controversy Over Wall Of Fame Inductee at Vestal High School
6/12/2012 (Updated 6/13/2012 6:35:05 PM)(Source: Kate Thornton)
Despite objections from Vestal High School Alumni, students, teachers, parents and concerned citizens, Tennessee State Senator Stacey Campfield's portrait will stay put in the school's Wall of Fame.
The Wall of Fame honors distinguished alumni of Vestal High School, but many at Tuesday night's school board meeting feel Campfield does not represent the quality of people that should be on display.
This is in reaction to remarks the conservative senator has made in the past few years concerning homosexuality and AIDS.
Campfield has been publicly quoted saying that homosexuality is harmful and that the HIV epidemic came from a single gay airline employee having sexual relations with a monkey.
Those wanting the portrait removed say Campfield's view tarnishes the school's reputation and sends the wrong message to the students and the community.
Superintendent Mark LaRoach says students are capable of challenging Campfield's remarks on their own.
"We're not endorsing it. It is repugnant and reprehensible to voice those kinds of views. But, he does have the right to voice his views in a public forum," said LaRoach.
"People absolutely have the right to free speech. Mr. Campfield has that right. Neo-Nazi Skinheads have that right, but we don't honor them and glorify them in a hall of fame. So freedom of speech is a beautiful thing that we celebrate, our first amendment rights, but we don't have to honor people who have made those kind of comment Mr. Campfield has made," said Vestal Alumnus John Perricone, class of 77'.
Campfield was a 1986 graduate of Vestal High School and was inducted to the Wall of Fame in 2008.
LaRoach said Campfield was inducted before to him making anti-gay statements and is honored for his prior accomplishments.
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