Friday, December 24, 2004

Too Young for Safe Zones? 

For six years, pink triangle stickers have been on the doors of certain classrooms in the Bedford, MA public school system, to indicate that the classroom is a Safe Zone, where LGBT students can receive advice and support. Until now, there have been no complaints.

But about 30 parents have now formed "Families For Truth," and they are protesting the presence of the stickers in the middle schools.
[Group leader Pamela] Clare said she would have no problem with the stickers being displayed in the high school, but that middle school children are too young.
"You as a committee have not used common sense or decency in your policy making," she said. Other parents called the program immoral.

Too young to know that there is a safe place for them to discuss any issues they might be having? Too young to be assured that they're not misfits or worthy of condemnation? Lots of kids start dating in middle school, they have school sponsored dances and other social events in which dating plays a definite role. Kids who are gay start realizing things at this age just like the straight kids. What is immoral about providing a safe haven for these kids to talk about what's going on in their lives, rather than making the kids themselves feel immoral and shunned?

By the way, here in Massachusetts it's illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation.

What exactly is the Truth that these Families are For? Sounds more like their Families for Denying the Truth.

In this article from the Bedford Minuteman, some of the members of Families for Truth are more specific about their various concerns, and they definitely aren't dealing with the truth here. They seem to be willing to grab at whatever reasoning they can for getting the Safe Zones out of the schools. On the one hand, they refer to health concerns, citing "promiscuity, which is relatively high in that community, is a problem from the standpoint that sexually transmitted diseases are contracted and we have so many things these days antibiotics can't take care of." Then they move on to the strategy of turning an attempt at assuring that one group doesn't feel ostracized into an exclusion of every other group. "Who decided that they are more important than Irish people, or Latinos or Blacks?" Then they move right on into labeling the other side as aggressive: "What happened after my original complaint is that three more stickers went up," Clare said reached later by telephone. "They're like in your face with this stuff." Then the coup de grace, denial: "Clare said she doesn't understand why there is a need for a safe zone, because she believes there isn't much bullying that happens at the middle school age."

Gee, why would teachers feel the need to create more safe zones after a group of people begin attacking the very group for whom the safe zones were created, and denying that these kids face any sort of bullying or intimidation? Hmm.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:52 AM