Smithtown HS East students walk out in protest of perceived anti-LGBTQ comments at BOE meeting
Smithtown High School East students walked out of school Friday following controversial comments made at a Board of Education meeting earlier this week.
Mike Simonelli, an executive board member for the Suffolk PBA, spoke out against some school teachings about the LGBTQ community.
"How confusing it is for our children to be told that a boy should be dressed as a girl," Simonelli said during the meeting.
The video, which is posted on the Smithtown Central School District YouTube page, made its way around social media.
"It was just full of bigotry," says Dean Cozzolino, a senior at the high school. "Everything that he said, none of us stand for and we couldn't watch it go on any longer."
Senior Maria Rondon organized the walkout protest to make sure students' voices were heard.
"The toxicity and discrimination need to stop," Rondon says. "In a recent school board meeting, it was discussed that kids are learning these things, but what they fail to realize is kids find what they want to find. So maybe if your kid is learning about something, that means they probably have questions and are trying to figure out the answers."
The Smithtown superintendent of schools released a statement, saying, "Earlier today, at the very end of the school day, about 20 students from High School East peacefully gathered outside of the building in response to anti-LGBTQ remarks made during Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting. The event lasted about 20 minutes without issue. The district strives to provide an educational atmosphere where students feel welcome, supported and encouraged to express their beliefs."