ARCADIA, Fla. (AP) _ While Louise and Clifford Ray searched for a school where their three AIDS- exposed sons wouldn't be shunned, the little town of Arcadia reeled Tuesday from the sting of publicity ''which makes the world think we are heartless.''

''We are not heartless. We are not violent,'' added Danny Tew, head of Citizens Against AIDS in Schools, which led a boycott to protest the boys' enrollment under court order last week in a DeSoto County elementary school.

The enrollment led to threats against the Ray family, and on Friday night, fire gutted their home. Fire officials called it a suspicious blaze.

The Rays haven't decided where to move, but their attorney, Bill Earl, said on NBC-TV's ''Today Show'' that Dade and Sarasota counties had more ''enlightened'' school systems.

''We are not in this to fight the Rays,'' said Tew in an interview following the ''Today Show,'' where he appeared opposite the Rays. ''From the beginning we decided if the Rays packed up and left our problem would still be there. We have got to have mandatory testing in our schools to identify all the people with AIDS virus.''

Those who test positive for exposure to immune deficiency syndrome should be identified and educated in a controlled environment where they would pose no risk to others, he said.

Tew's group called for a week-long boycott when the Ray boys - Ricky, 10, Robert, 9, and Randy, 8 - returned Aug. 24 to Memorial Elementary School under a federal court order. Only half their classmates showed up.

Doctors say the Ray brothers, all hemophiliacs who carry AIDS antibodiehe focus of the publicity that has enveloped this rural agricultural town.

''At least before we were getting attention to go for legislation,'' he said. ''The fire hurt us worse than it did the Rays. It hurt our cause and made it look like all we were there for was to run the Rays out of town. That's not so.''

The Rays believe otherwise. They say fear for their safety in Arcadia forced them to flee.

''We've had a few offers but nothing's come through yet,'' Ray said on the ''Today Show.'' ''We're just going to wait and see where it leads to from there.''