Friday, May 2, 2008

Principal outs gay students to peers, parents

In Memphis, Tennessee, a principal has created a stir after she asked staff to compile a list of couples. The object was to cut back on the public displays of affection in the school. However, in the process, the principal outed two boys who had just started dating. From the article:
She's accused of publicly posting the names of those students, including two boys, Andrew and Nicholas, who had just started dating. The ACLU says that in doing so, Beasley revealed their relationship to other students, teachers and even their parents.
This story has ruffled the feathers of many, regardless of whether or not they support equal rights for gays. On one side is the argument that exposing these two boys has wrecked a significant portion of their high school career, but also the idea that regardless of sexual orientation, the principal sought to compile a list of all of the people who were dating, something many saw as a perverse abuse of authority.
Nicholas says his teachers and other students treat him differently as a result of Principal Beasley's decision and that he and Andrew have both had to deal with verbal assaults. Nicholas was also not allowed to go on a trip to New Orleans to help rebuild homes because, as one of his teacher's explained, he would "embarrass" the school by engaging in gay affection.
First off, I think that the school must be incredibly intolerant if the sheer presence of a gay couple offends anyone. I can understand the intention behind wanting to cut back on displays of affection in the way that students should not be making out in the middle of the hall, but simple hand-holding or likewise is no bid deal and should be ignored.

This principal had very poor foresight to think that publishing a list would accomplishing in the way of stopping displays of affection. For one, those on the list would likely be the ones who are already very public in their relationship. The only surprise may come in the form of who is if they are bring caught having a public display of affection, there obviously isn't a problem, but this principal sought to make it a problem.

Another significant issue to ponder is how the staff came to know about the two boys' relationship in the first place. To me, it almost sounds as though they had sought out a teacher for help given the circumstances, but that teacher turned them over and betrayed their trust (only an educated guess). How many false positives are on that list? In some friendships, their is a very fine line between what would be considered a friendship and what is dating.

These kids are bring taught that having any physical contact with someone, even someone that they care for is a bad thing. These kids are being taught that the only accepted form is one that they dictate. The principal is endorsing intolerance. Teachers are often tolerant of the intolerance in schools. Even when a student makes a racial slur or some other direct attack, teachers often sit back and doing nothing to correct the situation. If nothing else, their involvement is often limited to "don't say that again."

My school is just beginning to try to address the issue of racism in a school were the students are very tolerant of race. My school is primarily white, but there are some minorities, which according to our school newspaper, feel as though they are bring alienated. However, the school is addressing the wrong problem. They think that we (as whites) are being intolerant of the minorities when it is the minorities who are backing away from social interaction by choice. Aside from racial minorities, there is nothing being done to create an atmosphere of tolerance. The students are doing a better job than the school; it is the school that gets in the way of everything.

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4:58 PM | Posted by mike | 0 comments posted below


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