By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Holding rainbow-colored heart signs – some made by their children – parents expressed love and support for Christa McAuliffe School art teacher Silas Allard who identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community and who is now on leave for unknown reasons at Monday’s school board meeting.
Parent Kate West told the board: “I’m here today to publicly denounce bigotry and hate speech within our community and more specifically within the Concord School District.
“I want to make it clear it is your duty to protect our children and staff members from violence when they are in your care. Weaponizing a person’s gender identity in order to criminalize and vilify them is an act of violence,” West said.
Michael Guglielmo, a parent of a Christa McAuliffe student, has been complaining for months about how “girly” Allard dresses and past sexualized messages he posted on social media while he was in college and earlier.
Last month Allard filed a restraining order against Guglielmo who regularly faced each other during school pickup time reportedly claiming homophobia and intimidation, but withdrew it three days later.
The district hasn’t said why Allard is on leave or whether it was voluntary or involuntary.
The Department of Education, which is headed by Commissioner Frank Edelblut, released a statement saying, “Pursuant to our policy, the New Hampshire Department of Education is unable to confirm whether an active investigation is ongoing with regard to a particular educator. The Department is following this situation and will take action if it is believed there is a violation of the Educator Code of Conduct.”
Guglielmo, who has a long criminal record starting in 1985 with a violent standoff with Manchester police, also later garnered respect for his work promoting the bone marrow registry to help his son Giovanni, who Guglielmo mentioned at the meeting saying he took his young son off life support as he died of cancer.
Guglielmo spent 17 ½ years in state prison.
At the meeting Monday night, Guglielmo spoke to the board dressed up as Julius Caesar.
“I am Caesar, Julius Caesar of Rome, the emperor. I’m also a female. Does anybody here believe that?” Guglielmo asked. “Of course not, it’s ridiculous. I’m not Caesar. I’m not a woman.”
“I’m here as a father who loves his children who loves his country. I’m here to discuss the duty of a school board and the Department of Education. Your duty is to act in the best interest of the children, teach truth not lies, facts not fiction, biology not a social agenda,” he said.
Guglielmo said children should be loved no matter what their sexual identity.
“Engaging and facilitating gender confusion, gender dysphoria is developmentally injurious to the mental and emotional capacity of children…,” Guglielmo said.
The parents urged the board not to consider or institute a dress code policy for teachers as a result of Guglielmo’s complaints.
The issue with Guglielmo has been simmering for some time now and is negatively impacting the children, particularly those who identify with Allard, some parents said.
Gilles Bissonnette, legal director for ACLU-NH, and his wife, Reagan, parents of a student at CMS, urged support for Allard, that he be able to “continue to enrich the lives” of the children.
“This issue has a direct impact on our family,” Gilles Bissonnette said. “There is a profound difference between credible complaints and baseless complaints.
“Frankly this issue is much bigger than this teacher. Every day this teacher is not in class,” he said, “We as a community, we are sending a message to our LGBTQ+ teachers, educators, and students that they are also unsafe in Concord. And we know Concord can do better,” Bissonnette said to applause.
The board took no immediate action on the matter.