tampabay.com

Diversity forum runs the gamut

By TOM MARSHALL
Published May 22, 2007


BROOKSVILLE - Last fall, when tensions were running high over local politicians' comments about Muslims, the Human Rights Coalition of Hernando County held a public forum.

If that event was aimed at healing wounded hearts, a second forum scheduled for Wednesday at the Brooksville campus of Pasco-Hernando Community College takes aim at the mind.

It's titled "The Role of Diversity in Education and the Community." But don't expect tried-and-true themes.

"We're dealing with diversity in a different perspective, " said organizer Walter L. Dry, chairman of the coalition. "It's going to be about religion, it's going to be about ethnic diversity, it will run the whole gamut."

For example, he said, consider the diversity on display among the 12 disciples of Christ.

"All of them were completely different people, " he said. "You had a guy who was a warrior renegade, one of them was a tax collector, one of them was a fisherman."

At the previous forum last November, discussion focused on the community flap that followed resident Mary Ann Hogan's letters to newspapers, in which she called Islam a "hateful" and "frightening" religion. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, later said a majority of her constituents felt the same way.

Organizers of this week's forum hope to consider a broader range of diversity issues, with audience members posing questions or concerns to the 13-member panel.

The event is hosted by the PHCC Peace and Social Justice Institute. It will be Wednesday from 1 to 3 p.m. in Room A-139 of PHCC's Brooksville campus, 11415 Ponce DeLeon Blvd.

Tom Marshall can be reached at tmarshall@sptimes.com or 352 848-1431.

Fast Facts:

On the panel

Scheduled panelists at Wednesday's diversity forum include: Sheriff Richard Nugent; Ahmed Bedier, director of the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations; Dr. Stanley M. Giannet, provost of Pasco-Hernando Community College in Brooksville; Glenn Claytor; Dr. and Mrs. C.J. McGrew Jr.; Irvin Homer; Maj. Gen. M.T. Smith; Dr. Dominick Maglio, Wider Horizons School; Nicholas Morana; Dr. Ghada Eldin.