New York City Council Member Daniel Dromm, a teacher in the city’s public school system for 25 years before be was elected to the council in 2009, has expressed sympathy for the family of Danny Fitzpatrick, the 13-year-old Irish American Staten Island teen who hung himself last week because of incessant school bullying. Dromm has also called for the board chairman of Danny’s Catholic school to step down.
Michael Long, a well known figure in New York politics in his position as Conservative Party chairman, leads the board at Holy Angels Catholic Academy in Brooklyn, where Danny attended school and regularly pleaded for help from teachers and administrators to stop a group of bullies who made his life miserable. Dromm feels that Long must be held accountable for the lack of a solution to the hardship Danny endured.
"Michael Long has been negligent in his duty to protect Daniel from bullying and, in fact, holds some responsibility for his death because of his long standing, staunch opposition to anti-bullying education," said Dromm, a member of the council’s Irish caucus and also the chair of the council’s Committee on Education.
"Mr. Long should not serve on any school board because of the hatred and malice he has shown toward many groups of people in our society but especially against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people."
In a Tuesday press release, Dromm pointed out that Long was an opponent of the Dignity for All Students Act sponsored by New York State Senator Thomas K. Duane and Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell which passed in Albany in 2010. His opposition centered around the inclusion of LGBT students as a protected class.
Dromm continued, "Should Mr. Long not resign, I call on Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio to remove him.
"I was shocked to learn that Mr. Long was the chairperson of the Board of Holy Angels Catholic Academy," Dromm added. "He does not make the connection between his style of bullying and how it affects young people. I suspect that Daniel's pleas were not taken seriously because Mr. Long doesn't take bullying seriously."
Dromm’s press release pointed out that Long published an article in The Guardian in July of 2003 in which he stated his opposition to the creation of the Harvey Milk School for LGBT students in New York.
"Is there a different way to teach homosexuals?" Long wrote. "Is there gay math? This is wrong. What next? Maybe we should have schools for chubby kids who get picked on." And according to a July 28, 2003 WND.com article, he went further by saying, "Maybe all kids who wear glasses should have special schools. It’s ridiculous.”
Dromm also revealed that he too was subject to bullying during his time as a Catholic grade school student.
"I remember how horrible it was back in the 1970s and it is distressing to learn that this is still going on 40 years later,” he said.
"I urge Bishop DiMarzio to immediately issue a statement condemning all types of bullying and to ensure that all school administrators, teachers and support staff understand and take this issue seriously. My heart goes out to Daniel's family. I wish to express my condolences to them. This is just so sad."