The sign at the gate of the Auschwitz concentration camp in...

The sign at the gate of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland reads "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work sets you free"), pictured on Jan. 26, 2020, one day before the 75th anniversary of the camp's liberation.  Credit: AFP via Getty Images/WOJTEK RADWANSKI

RVC Diocese failing LGBTQ community

On Dec. 4, LGBTQ parishioners at St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre opened bulletins containing a full-page warning about the Respect for Marriage Act, which requires the federal government to recognize the validity of same-sex and interracial marriages [“House passes marriage bill,” News, Dec. 9]. If a state bans those unions, it still must recognize other states’ unions.

The bulletin says the definition of marriage described by the state is “false.” It claims the “institution of marriage” and religious freedom itself are threatened by same-sex marriage. St. Agnes is also concerned that Catholic service organizations could lose their ability to deny services to the LGBTQ community, effectively discriminating against it.

What was it like for young LGBTQ parishioners to read this? What does it feel like when religious leaders, who claim to love you, actually see you as a threat, and humiliate you by considering you unworthy to avail yourself of housing services or services allowing you to adopt or foster a child, services administered by the church, which you and your family financially support? In 2021, nearly half of LGBTQ youth considered suicide. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre must wake up to the cruelty of its position. It’s failing its children once again.

— Karin Johnson, Rockville Centre

The writer is a member of RVC Pride, which provides support for the LGBTQ community.

Book protesters use obscenity as excuse

The central issue in the recent Great Neck Library board election was the banning of books such as “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe, a coming-of-age memoir called into question due to accusations of exposing sexual obscenity to children [“Book closed on contentious library election,” Our Towns, Nov. 30].

However, these claims, based entirely on a few drawings of sexual exploration, are misleading. The author’s recommended audience for “Gender Queer” are high schoolers and above. Considering that most students around this age likely have gone through puberty and sexual education, it is hard to say that a few drawings can irreversibly damage their psyche.

Likewise, no one is deliberately sneaking in “Gender Queer” among “Charlotte’s Web” and “The Cat in the Hat.” If it appeared there, it would be aptly moved into the 16+ section, rendering it inaccessible to genuinely impressionable children.

So what’s the issue? There is none. Detractors’ words claim good intent, but their actions suggest otherwise. If just a few illustrations can irreversibly damage young minds, what kind of example are these detractors setting by exhibiting hate against pro-LGBTQ library candidates in broad daylight? The cries of “obscenity” clearly are only an excuse to take one more open expression of LGBTQ identity off the shelves.

— Sue Zhang, Great Neck Estates

The writer is an 11th grade student at Great Neck North High School.

Divergent views of Regents history exam

I believe the state’s review of Regents exams should result in the history exam not being required for high school graduation [“State eyeing big Regents changes,” News, Dec. 8].

The topic brought back memories of taking the history Regents in high school in 1971. Our teacher gave us old Regents exams for homework as practice. The questions were mostly multiple choice, and I began to notice a pattern in the answers: Whatever choice made the United States sound good was always the right answer.

I took the test that way, always choosing whichever choice made the United States sound good. I got a 93 on the exam, and I am no history scholar.

I think that schools should concentrate more on teaching about the different levels of government and their function, voting, the differences between political parties, democracy, socialism, communism and fascism.

Working for the government as an adult, I met with citizens ignorant of what department or branch of government to even contact with a problem, though knowing 18th century trivia.

Not requiring a history exam does not “contribute to illiteracy,” as one person said. Not knowing enough about reading, writing, spelling and grammar contributes to illiteracy.

— Elaine Harrison, Eastport

The Dec. 4 cartoon [Matt Davies, Opinion] rightly criticized the possible dangers of antisemitic words of misinformed celebrities. As a former social studies teacher and son of a World War II veteran whose division was designated a first liberator, I recognized the cartoonist’s sign “Arbeit macht frei” (“Work sets you free”), which marked the entrance to Auschwitz. But how many of tomorrow’s students will know?

On that page, readers discussed the need to keep Regents exams [“Regents exams aren’t what they used to be,” Letters, Dec. 4]. Even if kept, there’s talk of eliminating history exams. If the past is not taught, who will remember it?

— Joseph J. Powers, Bay Shore

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