To the Editor:
Despite the already robust conversation on the topic, I still feel compelled to provide my bit of input on the recent letters by Mses. Thompson and Schmaus, which detailed their concerns that the Old Lyme RTC [Republican Town Committee] appears to be endorsing a “DeSantis style” of parental rights in our schools “as part of their platform and criteria for selecting candidates to run in this year’s municipal election”; i.e., the RTC would be “standing up for parental rights in the town’s school system regarding the school’s curricula and student policies”. Are the educators in Region 18 failing our children? I do not believe so.
Further, in a letter published in the “CT Examiner” at the end of March, the RTC Chairman responded aggressively, and somewhat insultingly, to a sermon delivered by the Reverend Steven R. Jungkeit at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, who had voiced his concerns with the endorsement, and laid out what he considered the potential longer-term sequelae of that action. The tone of the response raised my ire.
Reverend Jungkeit is a social justice advocate, and some may be uncomfortable with such advocacy. He and his fellow ministers and congregation have:
- provided physical sanctuary in 2018 for over 200 days to a Pakistani couple facing deportation;
- held a vigil and call to action with the Lyme-Old Lyme Partnership for Social Justice in May, 2022, which ended with the tolling of the bells to remember the then 32 victims of the most recent mass shootings in America;
- purchased a home in Old Lyme “to welcome refugees in perpetuity”, which included refugees from Syria, the Congo, and Puerto Rico (in the months following Hurricane Maria);
- assisted many refugees secure housing, jobs, and eventually, fulfill the legal requirements to remain in the United States.
In closing, I believe that the criticism I noted above should help toughen up this “man of the cloth” and provide him the same perspective now enjoyed by both New York State Supreme Court Justice Merchan and Manhattan D.A. Bragg, who have been similarly criticized from the top of the national party.
I also feel that questioning the language unfortunately used by the RTC is entirely appropriate. Why shouldn’t those of us who follow national politics react with concern over the apparent highlighting of a key part of what I think is Governor DeSantis’ dystopian agenda, which already includes: “The Parental Rights in Education Act”, commonly referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which was passed and signed into law last year; and another bill just signed into law that apparently allows Floridians to carry concealed guns without a permit and without training.
Thomas D. Gotowka,