Letters to the Editor
March 2, 2023 by Submitted

Parents of LGBTQ Speak

We are parents of LGBTQ children who participate in Geauga SOGI Support Network (GSSN) support groups. We are disheartened by the disparaging comments recently made by a county board member regarding this organization, mental healthcare and LGBTQ people. Such pronouncements dehumanize our children, our families and other county residents, and are antithetical to the doctrine of parental rights.

The one thing all parents should have in common is their unconditional love for their children. As parents, we dream for our kids, love them and guide them. Some of us even pray for them. We want our children and their future adulthood to be happy, healthy and safe. We want them to feel at home in this community where we live.

The thing about kids, though, is that the road is never exactly as parents imagine. And sometimes, we find that what we thought our child’s journey would be and what actually is are not the same. This is especially true for parents of gender-diverse people.

Parenting a transgender child does not come with any road map. It can be very lonely. Other parents don’t understand your walk. Faced with a challenging set of circumstances, most people seek aid and information from others in similar circumstances. Parents of gender-diverse youth in this county have been fortunate to have the option of seeking support from GSSN. GSSN responds to people who reach out with a need, it does not create one.

GSSN hosts support groups for middle- and high-school youth and a group for LGBTQ adults and family members of LGBTQ individuals. For many of our children, the youth support groups have been a literal lifeline. Our children don’t participate to CHANGE who they are, they go to be ACCEPTED for who they are.

Some of our kids are not even part of the LGBTQ community, but attend as siblings and allies looking for a supportive environment. As one youth says, “I go because I know this is the one place no one will bully or harass me. I can just be myself.”

For many of us parents, the adult support group has also been essential. It is a relief for us to be with others who share our experiences as we navigate complicated and private family situations. Our families have experienced so much joy from finding a community where we are all accepted.

We invite anyone who wants to brand organizations like GSSN as dangerous to think about what they would truly do if faced with parenting a gender-diverse child they love. What resources would you want? And how would you feel to hear your government officials denounce you for merely parenting with love and acceptance?

We wish it was safe for us to have our names published because we are proud of our kids; they are amazing people who are doing remarkable things. Unfortunately, for their privacy and security, we must remain anonymous. We look forward to the day when all families can live their lives openly, without fear of being exposed to harassment.


Editor’s Note: The Geauga County Maple Leaf has verified the names of nine signatories to this letter, all of whom confirmed they signed and submitted this letter for publication. We allowed this letter to be published without the parents’ names for the safety and protection of the families.

Gov. Mike DeWine, Why the Plume?

East Palestine recently experienced a chemical mushroom cloud containing a deadly toxin, dioxin. Neil Donahue, a professor of chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University. basically said the controlled burn and explosion unleashed a dioxin nightmare, possibly impacting future generations.

Scientists have warned that those living within a 100-mile radius could be exposed. The EPA defines dioxin as highly toxic and carcinogenic. One researcher said the maximum exposure of dioxin is measured in less than trillionths of a gram over a lifetime.

I live exactly 66 miles from East Palestine. This past Sunday, my dog, Millie, refused to drink from my pond. Knowing some pets and wildlife have recently died near the toxic plume, her refusal caused me to ponder what protocols are happening to keep us safe.

Also, I’ve been told there were options to neutralize the chemical rather than create a massive plume. This decision to ignite rather than contain and neutralize is beyond puzzling. Especially as I consider all the possible lives that will be shortened due to a potential spike in cancer.

Gov. DeWine blessed this toxic plume. Therefore, I request from Mr. DeWine his justifications for making a chemical disaster exponentially worse for millions of Americans. In my opinion, Gov. DeWine, along with others, need to be held accountable.

Joe DeBoth
Geauga County Republican Committee Member
Precinct #1: Auburn Township A

Claypool Needs to Step Down

Dear Geauga County Commissioners,

I read with both interest and despair the article entitled, “Claypool Rants on Mental Health Spending, Targets LGBTQ Support Group,” Feb. 16, 2023, by Amy Patterson.

In that article, the author explained that Skip Claypool, an appointed member of Geauga County’s Board of Mental Health and Recovery Services, took a stand against any financial support (from Geauga County) going to any LGBTQ organization, ever!

While I do not forsake Mr. Claypool’s right to his opinions, I do feel he has a responsibility to honor and uphold the tenets of the Mental Health Board. Clearly written in the ‘What We Do’ section on the website of the Mental Health Board are the words, “It is the primary responsibility of the Board to develop, promote and monitor services, facilities and programs that are responsive to the behavioral health care needs of the citizens of Geauga County.”

Since Mr. Claypool is not able to support the citizens of Geauga County who are LGBTQ, he is clearly in opposition to the very tenets he is responsible to uphold. Consequently, he should either step down now or at the very least I implore you to not re-appoint him.

Brenda Goodman
Healing With The Horses LLC
Munson Township

NOACA Disrupters

I’m sure many of you were aware of the NOACA meetings at the various libraries last month regarding the development of a regional Climate Action Plan. I was not able to attend at the Middlefield library, but several of my friends did.

Due to the disruptive activity of a number of people who apparently attended just to disrupt the meeting, most of my friends, unable to hear the presentation, quickly left.

The NOACA folks specified rules at the beginning of the meeting, but apparently the disrupters ignored the rules and shouted out rude comments to the extent that my friends left disgusted.

One friend was especially fearful of the situation getting physically out of hand. Safety officers were there, but it seems they were just acting as room decorations rather than escorting disrupters out of the meeting room as they should have.

Those disrupters seem to have been egged on by a past county commissioner, present at the meeting, who lost his reelection attempt as commissioner. So much for his views representing the will of the people. Like the old saying states “empty heads always rattle.”

Many of those present should go back to high school and learn about scientific methods, peer review and the value of science in determining truth. The alternative is believing the earth is flat and the center of the universe, the holocaust never occurred and astronauts never landed on the moon — an invention of NASA, the Donald actually won the last election, but was cheated.

Hey, disrupters, show me evidence for any of these.

So sad!

John G. Augustine
Parkman Township

Claypool’s Rant

As reported in a recent paper, Mr. Claypool has yet again provided us with a misinformed rant and wild accusations for which he provides absolutely no evidence. This is his schtick. When he doesn’t like something, he makes inflammatory statements against an organization or person without providing evidence, attacking the bearer not the data.

In this case, he would be very hard pressed to provide evidence, because it all points the opposite direction that he claims. He states with no evidence whatsoever that mental health activities in our schools are making kids worse. Where he gets this information, he doesn’t say; indeed, he can’t say because such data does not exist.

Claypool claims that GSSN, or as he prefers to say SOGI, harms children. It’s hard to understand how GSSN could be making schools and children worse off since it makes no presentations and teaches no lessons in our schools. The only time GSSN sees school-age children is in its facility at the request and with the permission of parents.

The tone and content of Mr. Claypool’s rant provides a thin cover for his dislike of LGBT+ individuals. Moreover, like many on the right, he appears to believe that transgender people do not exist. He cites a conversation with an unnamed psychiatrist who appears to think that gender identity issues are nonexistent.

The American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, using scientific data (which Mr. Claypool seems to think is worthless), are quite clear that issues of gender identity, including transgender individuals, are real. As Ms. Steigerwald notes in her comments in the article, the antipathy of people like Mr. Claypool serve only to make LGBT+ people less secure and more frightened.

Even beyond his issues with the gay community, his denigration of mental health issues and mental health providers is detrimental to all children and adults.

But I guess Mr. Claypool got what he wanted, another week with his name in a headline.

Michael E. Maguire
Chester Township