ELYRIA — A member of the Elyria Little League East board no longer is in a leadership role after publicly questioning district support of a gay and straight alliance club at Elyria High School.
Elyria resident and parent Chris Sito said he would vote against the upcoming Elyria Schools renewal levy if the after-school student club remained. He contends the district should not allow a “sex club” at the high school.
He made the comments Saturday in a Chronicle-Telegram story.
“Chris Sito is no longer a member of the Elyria Little League Board,” said Kevin Brubaker, who resigned as president of the nonprofit sports organization on Monday.
Brubaker did not comment further.
A petition on ipetition.org was posted Sunday calling for Sito to be reprimanded or removed from the Little League board. Sito was in charge of fundraising and formerly worked with the girls’ softball division.
Petition drivers had hoped to garner at least 1,000 supporters. Sarah Boesger, 33, of Elyria started the effort.
The 1998 graduate of Elyria High School and mother of a toddler said she started the petition because it enraged her to know a person in the community wanted to link the club, known as Allies, with the renewal levy. Failure of Issue 2 could result in a significant loss of revenue for the district, as it accounts for $12 million in annual revenue.
“He has expressed views that are against what Little League is all about,” Boesger said. “This is not about the organization. Little League is a very inclusive organization and Mr. Sito has overstepped his boundaries in a lot of ways.”
The inclusive of a gay and straight alliance at a school should not been seen as a negative thing, said Greg Donnellan, a board member for the Gay, Lesbian Straight Education Network of Northeast Ohio.
“I like to compare it to a sports club,” he said. “People join a sport because they want to know more about the sport and support the other players. Students join a GSA for the same reasons. Just like a winning sports club, a successful GSA can positively impact a school community.”
Principal Tom Jama and Superintendent Paul Rigda have said students have a right to attend the club and it is helping to encourage acceptance and tolerance in the school.
“The district should be praised because it is standing up for students, especially in this climate of school funding struggles,” Donnellan said. “Losing votes is the last thing any school district would need.”
Donnellan, 29, a middle and high school teacher in the Cleveland area, said he has seen similar groups at other Northeast Ohio schools falter under pressure, leaving students to wonder if they truly are accepted.
“Every school is different, but there are just a handful of strong GSAs in our area,” he said. “There is always a misconception on why the group needs to be formed, with some people not understanding why the club is needed at all.”