Reframing ROAR's True Intentions

Edited on Friday March 22, 2019

Edited: Marlene Hostovsky is not a member of ROAR’s “closed Facebook group” but a concerned community member that participates in their public group.

On Thursday, March 21, 2019, Marlene Hostovsky, posted a video message requesting that people in Massachusetts who oppose the upcoming LEAD-K Bill, S1805 to come forward and speak with legislators in April. She states, “Hello ROAR! I’m speaking to you, the Massachusetts residents! At the capital, there is a legislation bill (LEAD-K Bill S1805). Go ahead and stop it. Go talk with legislation and let them know we oppose the bill. Go ahead and do it.” The video continues to talk about other states and encouraging others that oppose the bill to go and speak with their legislators to let them know their thoughts. 

The Deaf Report reviewed the Massachusetts Legislation to discover who the petitioners were and there was nothing found under S1805, but there was a bill modeled off the LEAD-K Bill found, S305. S305 is “a petition (accompanied by bill, Senate, No. 305) of Eric P. Lesser, Michael J. Rodrigues, William N. Brownsberger, Patrick M. O'Connor and other members of the General Court for legislation to ensure language readiness in deaf and hard-of-hearing children entering kindergarten. Education.” The current status is that it has been referred to Joint Committee on Education.

Sheri Ann Farinha, one of the co-chairs of LEAD-K, cites years of work being thrown away because others want to plot against each other. 

#DeafvsDeaf So much for trying to achieve peace. Look at this message from Roar. Its shameful!! Deaf opposing other Deaf with their own state legislators!!! THIS IS WHAT Roar represents - destruction of other Deaf people and the work they have been doing for 3 -4 years now to get a bill introduced! Roar won’t meet with us. Instead their agenda is as below. Look at all the ppl rallying below sick w gleee to destroy Deaf ppls hard work!! Tp destroy data that could help Deaf babies of color. It’s sickening. This is NEGATIVE leadership! This is evil. Time for Deaf Community to tell Roar they have crossed the line. #EnoughisEnough” (Sheri Ann Farinha)

Hostovsky's video has been removed from the ROAR Facebook page where it was initially posted. Tamera Gaudet-Doody, the chairperson of ROAR, told The Deaf Report that she did not oppose the video, however the ROAR Facebook page is not a place for bullying or shaming so the video had to be removed. The video itself was not the problem, it was the comments that led to a violation of the group’s policies. 

Tamera wanted to also clarify the position of ROAR “We are clearly against THE bill itself, not the Deaf people, because LEADK/AGBell agreed to revise some in the bill without our consent! We will support LEADK ONLY IF it is clearly stated “ASL and English (reading and writing), no other options in the bill. ASL is THE human language.” 

LEAD-K supporters are shocked and are asking why anybody in the community would be against research that can lead to better lives for deaf children. “Marlene Hostovsky of ROAR dares to plot against the Massachusetts team for submitting the Lead-K bill to the legislation. Someone definitely needs to talk to her to stop her ridiculous plan that can be very harmful to Deaf 0-5 language development because our Deaf community never agreed to go against each other over the Lead-K's model bill. Why can't she understand the true purpose of that bill?! Making other bills is the answer, not opposing each others' bills. I truly hope someone will put some sense into her head ASAP!” Joy Maisel stated in her post sharing the video. 

Jennifer Willey did a Facebook LIVE. “I’ve been in this game too long.” She goes on to share a story about a daughter of a dying mother who has no idea her mother is dying. Why? Because she has no language at home to understand anything. “Language deprivation is a serious matter and for ROAR to say that Reframe our ASL Rights. Ok, Reframe it. Sure. But to destroy such hard work that LEAD-K people did.”Jennifer

Samantha Poteet said she agreed with ROAR’s mission in terms of ASL first however she has been in support of LEAD-K since the beginning and she wrote a lengthy post, that is can be shared on Facebook, imploring ROAR to think twice about their antics. “I am SO APPALLED that ROAR members would encourage other ROAR members in destroying state bills to improve language acquisition outcomes for Deaf children ages 0-5!! This has gone too far.” She continues to bring up important aspects of the legislative process pointing out that policy makers are hesitant to vote on any issue that has too much controversy which is why she supports what LEAD-K did with AGBell. 

Kim Rock, an active member of ROAR’s Facebook group, states in her vlog that the LEAD-K team is not respecting peoples’ right to choose what they want for themselves and that Farinha is angry that people don’t all agree with her. “Respect people’s right to decide. Respect people’s right to have a different perspective. Respect peoples’ rights to have different goals.” Kim also called Farinha out for attacking Hostovsky and ROAR for their different perspective. 

LEAD-K still invites ROAR for a dialogue according to Julie Rems Smario, their Public Relations Director. However, they want to do it in person, not on social media “We are waiting for them to accept our offer to meet because there is a strength in numbers to fight against the oppressive system of ideology to fix Deaf babies instead of giving them ASL and English.”, Smario shares with The Deaf Report. She also emphasized that the ideology is causing language deprivation. “The ideology is our enemy. The oppressive medical and education system is our enemy. Please ROAR, join LEAD-K in our battle against the system causing language deprivation. #endDeafvsDeaf.”

Tamera and some ROAR activists shared with The Deaf Report their position, “We are willing to meet with LEAD-K if they respond affirmatively to our three requests indicated in our rebuttal video to Farinha and Rems-Smario. The three requests are, once again, 1) dissolute your partnership with AGBell for their practice of audism and linguicism, 2) remove the modifications in the model bill made with AGBell, and 3) commit full transparency with the community for the sake of our children and future generations.” The team also wants to emphasize that the purpose of these requests is to help the community understand better where LEAD-K truly stands. “LEAD-K’s past actions resulted in multiple red flags, thus these requests.”

Some people believe that this is what AGBell wanted when they partnered with LEAD-K, to watch the deaf community destroy from within. Deaf VS Deaf has become a very real problem and LEAD-K /ROAR are right in the middle of it all. In the end, will AGBell win?

About Trisha:

Trisha Withem is the co-founder of The Deaf Report where she works to bring news to the community. She graduated with her BS and MS from Rochester Institute of Technology and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. Follow her on Twitter: @TrishaTDR