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Delgaudio Criticized for Anti-Gay Rights Stance

Delgaudio denies using his elected office to further his anti-homosexual lobby.

Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) rejects criticsÕ characterization of him as homophobic and has denied misusing his elected office to promote his anti-gay rights lobbying job.

Delgaudio said Saturday that he is not opposed to gays, but he is against granting them "federal rights." The U.S. Constitution guarantees rights for everyone, but he objects to giving homosexuals "special rights."

"Why should homosexuals have more rights?" he said.

He generated a flurry of criticism last week after he issued a "victory statement" applauding the Loudoun school district for dropping "pro-homosexual teaching lessons" from its anti-bullying program. School officials say they have never had those lessons, and School Board chairman John Andrews (Potomac) accused Delgaudio of misusing his office to promote fund-raising efforts for Public Advocate of United States. Clergy and a pro-homosexual, bisexual and transgender group also have publicly chastised the second-term supervisor for his positions.

SCHOOL BOARD member J. Warren Geurin, however, has come to DelgaudioÕs defense. Geurin, who also represents Sterling, agreed it would be inappropriate for school counselors to talk about sexual orientation. He said Delgaudio was mistaken when he said the school district had dropped the "pro-homosexual" lessons, but he defended the supervisor. "He was being a good guardian of his duties as a member of the Board of Supervisors," Geurin said.

Delgaudio said he is not wrong about the school district dropping the program. Why did it take school officials two months to respond when he asked whether the school district had included homosexual lessons in their anti-bullying program, he asked.

He opposed Loudoun County Public Schools providing the lessons, because they would expose children to "radical propaganda designed to churn out liberal political opinions, rather than teach life skills." He said the gay rights lobby is using the bullying programs in other Virginia schools to promote "perverse sexual practices."

Superintendent of School Edgar Hatrick issued a written response, saying the school system does not expose students to "radical propaganda of any kind and does not espouse political opinions of any kind to students."

Delgaudio said people are wrong when they say he is against gays, Jews and blacks. He said it would be particularly difficult for him to be a bigot considering he is from New York City and worked in Greenwich Village for years. "I love everyone," he said. "Life is too short not to love everyone. I wouldnÕt be in public life otherwise."

BUT ANDREWS said he was "deeply disappointed" that Delgaudio would misuse his elected office. "He totally misrepresented the school systemÕs curriculum to further his own political agenda," Andrews said. "For him to say that the school system is promoting homosexuality is so far from the truth, it is beyond belief."

Delgaudio, father of six, works as an activist, lobbyist and executive director of the nonprofit organization. Public Advocate of United States, according to its Web site, opposes:

"* same sex marriage

* gay rights

* federal funding and endorsement of pornography and obscenity as legitimate forms of art

* the mediaÕs promotion and glorification of drug abuse

* teenage sex

* gangs

* atheism

* homosexuality and other immoral behavior and beliefs

* the passage of hate crimes and 'thought control legislation that creates inequality in state and federal legal system'

* pro-choice legislation

* and the creation of special classes of Americans at the expense of the traditional American family."

He said he raises $1 million to $1.5 million annually for the groupÕs agenda. When asked whether he was able to raise more money by using anti-homosexual references in his fund-raising letters, he said, "Truth helps in all fund-raising letters. The truth is IÕm opposing the gay lobby and the gay lobby doesnÕt like me. É If IÕm fighting the gay lobby, and I say the truth, I will do better."

Delgaudio said he has not used references to the homosexual lobby to raise money for his supervisor campaign.

In his victory statement, issued Dec. 6, he took credit for keeping the gay agenda out of the schools by being an early whistle-blower. He contacted Geurin after learning about an October survey asking Sterling Middle School parents to check off any behaviors they would consider as bullying. The list included name calling, hitting, gossiping and talking about a studentÕs sexual preference.

On Friday, Geurin described the decision to include the question in the survey as a "colossal mistake."

Andrews said the school survey was looking at bullying as inappropriate and hurtful. "The big thing was not wanting kids calling each other faggots and homos É fat head and pocket face," he said. "It was not to promote homosexuality. It was using those words in a hurtful manner is inappropriate."

Delgaudio said Andrews should resign, because he is not open minded about the fact that there are people who are using the schools system that donÕt necessarily have the best interest of Sterling in mind.

Hatrick said the concept of sexual orientation was not being introduced to students at any grade level. He said Delgaudio was provided with a written notice to that effect last month, before he issued his victory statement.

"Such lessons have never been part of Loudoun CountyÕs curriculum, nor are they planned to be added to its curriculum. É It is not part of the general guidance program, nor is it a component of the bullying prevention efforts in the Loudoun County Public Schools."

UNDER A STATE MANDATE, sexual education is provided in the schools. When asked why sexual orientation is not taught, school spokesman Wayde Bayrd said that Hatrick already has addressed DelgaudioÕs victory statement in a written response. But Hatrick hadn't given a reason for not teaching about sexual orientation.

Equality Loudoun, an advocacy organization committed to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, issued a press release last week condemning DelgaudioÕs stance against including homosexual lessons in the anti-bullying program.

In the same release, the Rev. Roberta Finkelstein of Unitarian Universalists took Delgaudio to task for being terrified of young people who struggle with identity issues. "What I find terrifying is the message that any subset of our children are less entitled to feel safe and supported in their struggles," she said.

The Rev. Don Prange of St. James United Church of Christ said DelgaudioÕs condoning of the exclusion and demeaning of people is a way of denying "their full humanity and it lessens us as a community."

Delgaudio said he a Roman Catholic who attends mass regularly.

Regarding AndrewsÕ comments, Delgaudio said, "Andrews is swallowing the school staff clap trap," he said. "ItÕs not different than what John Andrews did to board member Warren Geurin. They went ballistic." Delgaudio was referring to a time when Geurin looked for ways to prevent teachers from transferring from Sterling schools to ones in the western part of the county. He also pointed out that Geurin has received some flack for questioning other school practices.

Delgaudio said he wrote a letter raising concerns about the survey and delivered it to Geurin during a joint Supervisor and School Board meeting in October.

Geurin said Delgaudio asked if Loudoun had guidance counselors talking to students about sexual orientation. "My answer was É there is no such program I am aware of."

Geurin said itÕs the role of parents Ñ not the school Ñ to discuss sexual orientation. "I guarantee anyone who teaches family life and gets a question from a student about gays and lesbians, their answer is going to be, "Ask your mother or father. Especially in the middle school."

THE ANTI-BULLYING PROGRAM was developed after Loudoun received a $17,833 Youth, Drug and Violence Prevention Grant from the GovernorÕs Office for Substance Abuse Prevent. Part of the grant was slated for bullying prevention education for students.

The school administration provided anti-bullying training to the county principals and counselors last year, said Student Services Supervisor Betsy Young. Teachers received training before school started this September.

Geurin said that he opposes bullying, but the school system does not have an anti-bullying program. "I think itÕs a figment of Betsy YoungÕs imagination," he said. "The budget is right here, and there is no such thing called an anti-bullying program."

He said that he objects to the schoolsÕ focus on bullying efforts. "I think, quite frankly, and have for some time, that jumping on the anti-bullying bandwagon is unnecessary," he said.

The School Board set about a dozen new goals this fall, including one to strengthen programs that support safe learning environments free of bullying, teasing and physical violence. Geurin voted in favor of it, rather than voting against all of the goals based on his opposition to one. "I donÕt think kids are mean," he said. "I donÕt think we have that big of a problem."