October 20, 2011

Discrimination Motivates Our Resolve To Eliminate It

 A 17 year old gay High School student, in the south Texas town of Alice, reports that he was kicked off the cheerleading squad - because he was observed on a school surveillance tape - kissing another boy in a hallway. He was also suspended from school for two days.

This sounds pretty outrageous to me. Is there a double standard? Boys and girls can kiss, but 2 girls or 2 boys better not - or they’ll be suspended? Time magazine reports that the teenager wants to remain anonymous.

"We would be the ones getting caught because I'm sure we were the only ones, sexual orientation wise, being caught like that," the student told KRIS. "In this school [kissing] is everywhere. If that were the case, suspending everyone for that, half the school would be suspended."

Other news reports indicate that the school denied taking action because of “the kiss.”

The school district said in a statement today that it “has recently reviewed the recent removal of a student from the Alice High School Cheerleading Squad. After reviewing the Alice I.S.D. Student Code of Conduct and the Cheer Program Handbook, the removal will stay in effect. The student’s parents are in agreement with the district’s decision.”

How would the school handle a situation like this if the parents weren't aware that their son was gay? Would they call the parents to “out” a student? I hope not - because that could destroy a kid's life.

There’s a lot of soul searching, and introspection, that takes place within ourselves before we are comfortable talking about who we are sexually. There isn’t a gay, lesbian, bi or transgendered person I know who didn’t fully evaluate and explore every thought and feeling related to what we think our sexual selves are supposed to be. And even after we’ve spent a year or two pondering these big questions, and we think we are reasonably sure of who we are, we are very conscious of the fact that until we find an “internship” or get “on the job training,” that we can’t come out because we aren’t 100% certain.

When we throw the closet door open, we're ready to do so because we've usually over analyzed every inch of our being, and we've had a chance to sample the nectar of who we are, and we can feel the excitement of who we're going to be. A school teacher or stranger calling home to inform a parent would add so much stress, and could delay the process, or create so many new stresses that it could really hurt someone. Being compassionate is an imperative in this process.

The Pocono Record reported that in Bangor, Pennsylvania - there’s a group of students who want to start a “gay-straight” club at the local high school. The club says it will “provide a welcoming environment to gay students and those who support them. The club would create an opportunity for them to discuss current issues and promote anti-bullying messages. The anti-bullying efforts would focus on bullying in general, not just the gay community.”

For some reason - there’s a teacher or administrator who has a problem with “gay-straight” so the students were forced to change the name of their group to the “safe school club.”

A school board member wondered whether parents would be signing a permission slip for their kids to join this club. The newpaper reports:

School Director Kevin Pruett asked at the time whether parents would be able to sign permission slips allowing students to participate in the club.

Under current policy, students do not need to provide signed permission slips to participate in extracurricular clubs.

Addessi said Monday he interpreted Pruett's comments as an attempt to intimidate the group.

Requiring students to get permission slips to join a club centered on gay topics could make students too uncomfortable to join.

Addessi questioned whether a permission slip policy is appropriate in this instance.

A child in a hostile home environment could risk getting beaten or thrown out of his or her home if he or she came out as gay or supported gay rights, he said.

School Directors Pruett and Pamela Colton threw their support behind permission slips. Signatures were required to participate in sports, field trips and other school events, so she saw no reason how the district could keep that information from parents.

These two school board members have no clue whatsoever. Even after hearing that some kids could be thrown out of their homes, if they were outed,  the ignorant school board members still think permission slips are necessary. If you don’t need a permission slip for the chess club, you can’t require permission slips for the safe schools club.

The school board is going to make a decision on Monday about the club, and I hope they do the right thing.

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