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Gender identity shouldn't be issue

Published March 1, 2007


Re: Largo officials vote to dismiss Stanton Feb. 28 story

Today I am ashamed to be a citizen of Largo. I do not know City Manager Steve Stanton, as I am relatively new to Florida and Largo, but I feel that if the city officials and voters did not have any problem with his performance before, the issue of his gender identity should not make any difference now.

To say that his personal issues have become distracting for his coworkers is ridiculous. His coworkers and employees should be concerned with their own jobs and not the personal life of someone else.

I believe that this has set Largo back decades in the area of tolerance and humanity. I definitely will remember this issue when I go to the polls to vote.

I do applaud our mayor for taking a stand - the right stand.

Barbara Castillo, Largo

Facts lacking at Stanton meeting

The purpose of the special City Commission meeting was to decide whether or not Steve Stanton's (planned) sex change violated his contract with the City of Largo. We received very little input on this, and heard mostly from social activists, religious leaders and intellectuals who, by the way, showed a great deal of intolerance by suggesting that those who do not agree with his dismissal are ignorant. Where's the tolerance there? If he did break his contract, then he deserves to be dismissed.

The meeting was a fiasco, with citizens speaking about many issues other than the contract. I was very disappointed in Mayor Pat Gerard's leadership. She did not keep a handle on this, and in all her personal interviews on radio, performed badly.

Also, how is anyone to determine that Stanton's actions were contrary to his contract? I don't know, and doubt if any of the citizens of Largo knew this. How can you speak on an issue if you don't have the facts?

I hope that this will be cleared and all those in favor of Stanton can say "aye" based on knowledge, not on personal experience and feelings.

Dolores Ruskin, Largo

City shows true colors with firing

The City of Largo showed its true colors Tuesday night when five city commissioners voted to fire the city manager for reasons that one would have expected 50 years ago.

First, let me say it was obvious to me he was set up, in that those five commissioners knew they were going to terminate him before the meeting started. When the mayor asked the commissioners whether they should hear from the crowd, Commissioner Rodney Woods said no. When Commissioner Mary Gray Black said she wanted to hear from the audience, the other commissioners agreed. Why?

If, as all agreed, they had already heard from their constituents via hundreds of e-mails, why was it necessary for Stanton to have to listen to all that criticism from some of our well known ex-politicians and religious leaders?

I know of no other industry that would put a soon-to-be terminated employee through that kind of humiliation. As I watched that poor man sitting on the dais, my heart went to him and his family. It was a terrible sight to see.

I must pay tribute to our Mayor Pat Gerard and Commissioner Woods for their magnificent tribute to Steve and the work he has done for Largo these past 17 years. They stood up for their principles, never once yielding to the mob mentality.

To the other five commissioners: You are a disgrace for setting up one of your employees in this manner. One hundred years ago, the men in this country did not believe that the four of you who are female were capable of holding office, and in fact you were not allowed to vote. You proved they were right, as they shamed you into terminating Steve Stanton for his right to be himself.

John W. Kent, Largo

Firing is pure discrimination

What Steve Stanton did was unusual, make no mistake about it, but it is one of the most courageous stances I have seen in a long time.

The City of Largo clearly has a case of gender discrimination on its hands, one I hope goes all the way to the Florida Supreme Court.

While I can understand why the unknown can put people off, there is no room for discrimination of any kind in today's world. Stanton has done the city proud for 17 years. There is no case for his dismissal for anything other than discrimination.

And I think Pastor Ron Sanders got it wrong. If Jesus were here, he'd terminate Sanders, not Stanton. Bigotry has no place in the church, just in some of its small-minded leaders.

In the meantime, I will not be spending my money in the city of Largo.

Greg Neri, Tampa

Largo's actions are embarrassing

As an attorney, a human being and a corporate resident of Largo, I am appalled and embarrassed to have the name "Largo" on my business card and Web site. I watched the sordid witch hunt on television Tuesday night. There are only two members of the Largo City Commission who are not buffoons and should be retained in city government.

The issue of gender identity is a medical one, as well as one of putting bigotry to rest once and for all. Gender identity is being traced to the intake of certain hormones by the person's mother, genes and other environmental factors. City Manager Steve Stanton did not bring this controversy on himself. It was brought on by the betrayal of a confidant who contacted the news media.

We just witnessed a kangaroo court sitting as the City Commission. The majority of the commission members demonstrated their own blind political aspirations, their ignorance, their self-importance and their fear of the vocal minority. This commission did not wait to find out if Stanton's personal decision actually affects his performance of his job. He won't get a chance now.

Shame on all of you, except for Mayor Pat Gerard, who has the courage of her convictions, and Rodney Woods, the lone commissioner who has himself experienced the discrimination and blind rage of people who are small minded and uninformed.

Kathryn Bergeron, Largo

City manager has done a good job

There seem to be many people in the City of Largo that really need to get over themselves! Thank goodness there are still many showing tolerance and fairness. The sad thing is we are hearing mostly from the prejudiced.

Heterosexualism is not a "behavior." Those individuals quoting from the Bible, etc., saying God created this man to be a man, God also created the science to help him be who he really is!

Mr. Stanton has been our city manager for 14 years. He has done a good job and, think about it, if he was so good as a male city manager, imagine how good he will be as a female!

If this person is fired for being a person of conviction, shame on Largo. His is a personal matter!

Helen West, Largo

Your voice counts

You may submit a letter to the editor for possible publication through our Web site at, or by faxing it to (727) 445-4119, or by mailing it to Letters, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. You must include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

[Last modified March 1, 2007, 07:04:40]

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