'PE Hell' Can Make School Insufferable

Norah Vincent's Jan. 2 commentary, "Adults Lead the Class in Anti-Gay Bigotry," provides a distressingly poignant example of a sickness that pervades this society as well as much of humanity. Though there are many exemplary members of the profession, as a substitute teacher I have come across more than a few physical education teachers and school administrators of stunted worldview and sensitivity who would be better placed as Marine drill sergeants than as mentors of vulnerable children.

For many kids -- and my observation is not limited to those who are gay -- the daily PE ritual has become a dreaded hell, making their school experience insufferable. I suspect that for youngsters who are the focus of such unrestrained peer cruelty, such incessant humiliation has more effect on truancy, poor grades and leaving school before graduation than many educators would care to admit.

Don Malvin

Canoga Park


It is a relief to find Vincent writing a column that is intelligent and humane. Perhaps identification with her subject enables her to express empathy, finally, for at least one group of fellow humans. May we hope it is a harbinger for the new year?

Maimon Leavitt

Los Angeles

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