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Letter to the Editor: GRCC Board member justified in suggesting a formerly gay person speak

As a current student at Grand Rapids Community College, I am concerned with our board members and the way they are handling the recent debate about the LGBT community. After reading both articles, one featured right before spring break and the one that came out March 26, Trustee Ryskamp is the one who is taking a balanced approach. He is giving a former gay person the chance to speak about his decision to revert back to a heterosexual lifestyle. The name itself claims the Diversity

Learning Series to be “diverse,” but Trustees Ellen James and Terri Handlin seem to not be allowing for diversity, considering their responses back to Trustee Ryskamp suggesting that his opinion is wrong and their opinions are right. Trustee Ryskamp is not speaking out against the gay community. He simply stated that a need to look at both sides of the argument is important.

A statement quoted by Azizi Jasper in The Collegiate, published March 26, said, “Someone should not use their position on the board of a publicly funded institution to promote their political agenda…” If board members are allowed to support a speaker on one side of an issue, it makes sense to let other board members suggest an opposing viewpoint without being criticized. That would be true diversity. Why does Dr. Ryskamp have to take a hit? He does not owe an apology to anyone. If he should have to apologize, all board members involved with this issue should have to apologize for their comments as well. People only talk about how it could make homosexuals feel uncomfortable, but what about the heterosexuals? This article was extremely biased towards the LGBT community.
Why should I have to walk down the hallway in the Main Building and see a table set up supporting gay relationships, but not one set up supporting heterosexual relationships?
Dr. Ryskamp’s position on this issue is no less important than other board members’ positions. Board rooms need to be diverse.

Otherwise, everything would always be one-sided, as this debate is turning out. Let others’ voices be heard.

Respectfully submitted,

Sarah Hoekman, second-year student

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