Friday morning, social media - and the community - were abuzz with speculation about a new after-school club forming at Elkins High School.
Reports flowed into the newsroom complaining about the prospective organization, which got stamps of approval from both EHS Principal David Fincham and Randolph County Superintendent of Schools Terry George.
The organization - the Gay-Straight Alliance - had its first meeting Friday in the art room, according to a flyer emailed to The Inter-Mountain.
Upon further investigation, the nationally recognized group is made up of students who think anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and discrimination is wrong.
Fincham told Reporter Beth Christian Broschart the following when contacted about the ruckus, "There is no issue here. The point of the group is that each student is treated with respect and dignity - it is meant to curb bullying and hazing."
Furthermore, several high schools around the Mountain State already have GSA chapters, including George Washington, Capitol, John Marshall and Cabel Midland high schools.
As it turns out, there were issues at the school as students were defacing and tearing down meeting signs.
The real issue here isn't the forming of this club. The problem seems to be the downright intolerance in our community.
The knee-jerk reaction from community members and students about a supposed "gay" organization on campus seems extreme, unwarranted and offensive.
Members of this group strive to ensure their schools are safe and free of intolerant behavior - toward not only LGBT students, but all students.
Bullying, unfortunately, still is an issue across our entire country. It has been compounded by the easy access to social media and mobile phones.
Although teachers and administrators try to stamp all instances of bullying as best they can, it still exists, just like the schoolyard ruffian.
In this day and age, we all like to think discrimination of any type is dead. We like to think racism doesn't happen and bias toward LGBTs, women and other minorities does not happen.
The fact is, this incident proves that narrow-mindedness still runs rampant in today's world - and in our own community.
Those that jumped to criticize the forming of this organization should be ashamed. There should be no room for intolerance, of any kind.
All involved should take a long look in the mirror. These actions simply are deplorable and unacceptable.
- Contact Matthew Burdette at 304-636-2121, ext. 120 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at IMT_Burdette.