CASTRO VALLEY — You've got ... hate mail?
That's how an unspecified amount of Castro Valley High School parents felt when their inboxes received an e-mail from an anonymous parent criticizing the school and a lesbian guest speaker.
"We have no idea how the individual got a hold of the e-mail list," said Pete Alvarez, school principal. "Definitely the school didn't give them access to it."
How the listserv of parent e-mails was retrieved remains a mystery, but the letter's claim raised serious concerns among administrators and parents over the school's annual "Days of Diversity" program.
The parent who wrote the message is identified only as "Concerned CVHS Parent."
In the e-mail, the parent apparently is frustrated over an incident in which their student's math class was "interrupted by a guest speaker."
"This speaker starts out describing herself as a pastor at Eden Church of Hayward," the parent wrote. "Then she immediately goes into some tirade about being gay and transgender and coming out of the closet."
That speaker is Arlene Nehring, who heads the all-inclusive congregation and is not transgender.
Nehring has participated the past three years in the school's Days of Diversity program, discussing her life and coming-out experience as a lesbian pastor.
"Every year (the students) are always shocked to see a woman in clergy and wearing a collar," she said in a phone interview Monday. "I think it's helpful for them to experience healthy models of adults who are in their community."
The e-mail was sent out last week shortly after the two-day program, which was held Thursday and Friday.
For nearly a decade, Castro Valley High School has held the Days of Diversity program, which aims to expose students to different backgrounds, including Japanese culture, life as a cowboy and children in foster care, among other topics.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender awareness is also featured in the program.
"My job is to create the safest possible learning environment," Alvarez said. "One of the groups that is still the target of a lot of bullying and discrimination throughout high schools in the nation are LGBT students. And that's why we have programs like Days of Diversity to increase school safety."
In the e-mail, the parent claims Nehring gave "step-by-step instructions on how to become gay and transsexual."
"Wow," Nehring said in response. "I'm not sure I know how to give those."
Regardless, Nehring called the message unfortunate and sad.
"This is just a classic example of why programs like diversity day are important," she said. "We all need a greater understanding and empathy for each other."
The school is continuing to investigate the e-mail incident.
View the text of the e-mail on The Daily Review's blog, The HayWord, at www.ibabuzz.com/hayword.
Reach Kristofer Noceda at 510-293-2479 or firstname.lastname@example.org.