Megan DeNinno 0

Reprimand Judy Kilmer of WSHS

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The following letter will be sent to the Scranton School District super intendant Dr. Alexis Kirijan - please sign to show your support and to end this horrible indiscretion. And questions or comments can be directed to me at Thank you for your support.

Super Intendant Kirijan,

Hello, my name is Megan DeNinno and I am a West Scranton High School alumni. I graduated in the spring of 2012 and am a current full time college student. I am now 21 years old, but I still remember West Scranton High School like it was yesterday. I still miss plenty of my teachers and fellow students, who myself and my classmates formed lasting bonds with, some of which are still strong to this day.

However, I am writing today to speak about a very common, unpleasant experience that took place during my years at WSHS. I am writing to talk about Judy Kilmer.

As a child attending high school, I remember thinking that I was old enough to understand everything. As far as I was concerned, I knew everything and was responsible for my own choices and thoughts. Today it’s almost funny to think that I felt I wasn’t impressionable anymore, when in fact one’s years in high school are a principal part of the mental development and molding of kids.

That is why when Judy Kilmer made homophobic and racist comments, very frequently I might add, it went mostly over my head exactly how terrible those actions were. I remember thinking that she was a closed minded person - that her opinions were invalid and rude, but not much more. But somehow, during the recent triumph for civil rights that allowed gay marriage in all 50 states, I thought of Judy. I wondered if she was somehow still being allowed to teach young people, or if any action had been taken to cause her to act like a civil, respectful human in the classroom. The yieldings of a facebook post showed me quickly that she was in fact still teaching at WSHS, and still making her homophobic and hateful comments regularly.

My question quickly became this - it is 2015.. how on earth is Judy Kilmer still allowed in a classroom? At the very least, how has someone not spoken out against her childish and hurtful comments? I understand that it is hard for others to grasp what these sorts of comments can do, but I can explain it easily. I specifically remember Judy talking boldly, during my english class, about how she refused to print same sex couples’ names in the student paper for prom, and that she would do everything in her power to make sure that these couples wouldn’t be able to go to prom together. I specifically remember her saying the phrase ‘It’s not right.’

Now, try to imagine a child who is gay/trans hearing these comments. It implies that for something they cannot control, they are inherently wrong. It implies that they shouldn’t come out, that they should keep it a secret, which can be damaging to the psyche at the very least. It implies that they are a lesser human for simply being themselves. These are the kind of comments that cause gay and transexual children to harm themselves or even take their own lives. Aren’t teachers supposed to be a reliable and safe adult? Aren’t students supposed to be able to seek guidance and good judgement from these teachers?

Aside from these blatantly homophobic comments, Judy was also quick to criticize female students who were wearing what she considered ‘too much makeup’ or a ‘revealing’ outfit. She frequently used the offensive and inappropriate terms ‘slut’ and ‘whore’ to describe students - outdated terms that should not be present in anyone’s vocabulary, let alone an educator in a public school system.

The fact that Judy Kilmer has been allowed to behave this way is appalling and frankly, repulsive. The way that she carries herself, constantly speaking about her own personal political and social beliefs within the classroom is not okay. Allowing her to continue this way simply because of her seniority at WSHS is unacceptable. It shows a huge faux pas on the part of the Scranton School District and a lack of sensitivity and discretion on the part of every person employed by the organization.

For these reasons I and my fellow alumni, as well as many other concerned parents and participants of the Scranton School District community are calling for action on this issue. Judy Kilmer needs to be reprimanded for this behavior, as well as having any additional authoritative positions like the school paper taken away. Having your own set of morals and beliefs, no matter what they are, is more than okay. But voicing them openly, constantly and in an educational environment should not be tolerated. A more in depth and strict evaluation of teachers’ lesson plans and general behavior needs to be employed; no blind eye can be turned to any educator or employee acting in such a tactless manner.

Aside from the signatures that come with this letter, posts with this letter and reasoning attached are being shared all over social networking platforms. News of this issue is being spread both inside and outside of the community. At the very least, it will not go unnoticed.

This is an issue that cannot go unaddressed, not for my sake, but for the sake of all of the young people that would continue to filter through her classroom.

Thank you for your time,

Megan DeNinno

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