Wednesday, February 09, 2005

This is Tolerance? 

Yet another uproar has come up in response to the formation of a Gay Straight Alliance in a high school, this time in the central California City of Hanford. Several other area high schools already have similar groups, but some parents of Hanford West High School students don't want one at their kids' school.

Principal John Davis viewed the complaints as stemming from the habit of people gossiping without having any facts about the issue. In response, he sent a letter to parents:
In it he says the law is clear, a school cannot refuse to allow a student group to meet because parents, teachers or other students object. Davis says, "I explained in the letter that the federal government had passed an Equal Access Act in 1984 which allows all groups to use school facilities during non-instructional time."
One parent quoted in the news article provided a fitting demonstration of the need for the club. Objecting parent Catherine Willis stated one of her concerns:
"The advisor of the committee is professing to be in the gay and lesbian lifestyle and I just don't want it to be a bait for children versus a tolerance committee."

She further stated her case that the group simply isn't needed:
But Catherine Willis says kids shouldn't even have to deal with this issue at school, "They just think it's a joke that number-one, that you would have to have a club to teach tolerance because they feel they live in 2000 and nobody is committing hate crimes in this community."
I see. There's clearly no need to educate in this modern and enlightened community where it is assumed, at least by some, that the only reason a gay teacher would become involved with advising a gay straight student alliance is to seek out victims for her perverted ways. No one is beating or killing gay students, so everything must be okay, right? Yep, no need for bridge building there.

An earlier article quoted some other parents, who voiced reasoning similar to that used by objecting parents in Bedford, MA. In the Hanford debate, some parents claim not to have any problem with gay people, but don't think that there should be any reference to sex or sexuality in the name of a club, and that students under 18 shouldn't have to face anything "dealing with sex" at school. The groups advisors pointed out that the group isn't about sex or even sexuality, that some students are gay, some are straight, some have relatives who are gay, and some just want to show their support for diverse student populations. One parent responds that her son has attention deficit disorder, but there's no tolerance or school group for him. Perhaps she or he should take inspiration from this group and look into forming an ADD group, rather than using the hardships faced by one group as an excuse to condone intolerance for other groups.

The school committee was to address the club's formation at last night's meeting.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:05 AM