What gets me in the holidays spirit? GSAs.
This seemed a lovely thing to counter-balance the shit from the past week or so, between Celebrity Leftest People (Naomi Woolf – how dare you too!) making it a lil less safe for people to cry rape and University Bias Team People not thinking women needed advocates, it was really nice to write about something… not shit.
And, in addition – Mr. Obama signed away Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and Rachel Maddow listened to the Mooreandme protest and asked Mr. Moore about it. Not an apology, and no direct address of false info, but still.
Finally, more personal information about me today… shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out where I’m from – even if I haven’t lived there for over a decade.
I am hoping this post is positive response to this one.
Front page story the other day in a newspaper [from the state I grew up in] focused on Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) and their rapid increase in [my home state]’s high schools.
Some highlights (paraphrased from the article):
- The first GSA debuted in this state in 1995, prompting the school district to shut down all non-curricular clubs, a move that led the American Civil Liberties to file two lawsuits on behalf of students. In October 2000, the district reinstated all nonacademic clubs, including the GSA, and the ACLU dropped the lawsuits.
- Controversy again when another high school approved a GSA for 2005-06, a first for that county (and in a district where a super-religious college resides – go ahead and guess). In consequence, in 2007, the state legislature passed a school clubs law forbidding clubs from discussing sexual activity outside of legally recognized marriages or contraception. The law also requires parental permission slips for club membership in all secondary school clubs.
- In July, another district approved its first GSA after the application process stalled for much of the 2009-10 school year over whether or not the word “gay” could be used in its title. Again, the ACLU stepped in.The president of a school board, currently resisting GSAs: “We had been told there was some resistance in the schools. [Homosexuality] goes against the morals of the community.”
- But, he adds, “as a board, we looked into what these clubs really do, and what they teach is tolerance.”
- A GSA president: “If it wasn’t for the ACLU, we probably still, to this day, would not have it approved. It’s been a really positive thing for our school to kind of open up its mind. … We still have a lot of work to do because a lot of the kids are scared to join it.”
- Legal basis for ACLU intervention (and the legal reasons why my home state can’t block these clubs):
- The1984 Equal Access Act: Requires schools that receive federal funding give all noncurricular clubs equal access to school resources.
- The First Amendment: The right to free-speech, the right to assemble.
- A nationwide survey of 7,621 teens by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN): Last year, 85 percent of LGBT students in middle and high school experienced verbal harassment at school, and nearly one in five reported being punched, kicked or injured with a weapon because of their sexual orientation.
- Also according to the survey, students at schools with a gay-straight alliance were less likely to hear homophobic remarks from their peers and more likely to feel a sense of belonging, according to the report.
- This year, the number of GSA clubs has nearly tripled, growing from 10 in 2009-10 to 27, all across the state, and students are working to open additional clubs next year at schools in five more districts.
- GSA advisor: “You guys need to be the champions of diversity. You need to be the ones who accept others first.”
What else got me about this article? The images. The photos they chose of high school kids, being kids. Wearing silly fucking clothes (wtf is going on with fashion in high school anyway? Does that just make me dated?) and laughing and talking and just being normal. And, most importantly, happy. These are someone’s kids for crying out loud. These are just kids.
I realize that my earlier post was about women’s rights, not those of the LGBTQ+ community, but I don’t see them as that far away from one another, really. Sure, they are, of course. But the battle is still the same.
Our fight is one of equality. For all of us, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, etc. In school, in work, in play, in life for crying out loud.
What makes me so choked-up happy is that it is in these spaces that we learn to do this. These are not Hey We’re Gay or Girls Who Like Girls clubs – these are gay-straight alliances. You don’t even have to be gay to get in, guys!
That’s the beauty of it. All you need is at least the willingness to learn about the diversity that exists in our communities. Even if they make you uncomfortable, just show up, and we’ll teach you how to embrace them instead. We don’t care if you’re gay, or straight, or bi, or transgendered, or queer, or questioning. All we care about is… “being the champions of diversity.”
To celebrate that diversity, and strive for equality.
This is why it is a response, in my mind, to posting about stupid asshats not understanding that discrimination of women. If we learn, when we are young, to see us all as human beings first, to learn to talk to one another in that way, perhaps that is the table where we start when we want to eliminate discrimination across the board. Not just for women. Not just for people of color. Not just for the gays. Not just for the queer. Not just for the transgendered.
And, yes, we still have a lot of work to do. But you know what? Moving forward is still moving forward. And we need to find joy in the things we accomplish – while we continue to fight.
This are the things that give me hope. These are the things that fill me with the fucking holiday spirit.
If we can’t do it as adults, perhaps our children can do it for us.
PS. I dislike terms like “accept” and “tolerance”. They didn’t bother me until I came out as… nondiscriminatory based on gender (I dislike the term “bisexual” too). And then they did. I “accept” and “tolerate” things about people I don’t really like.
I don’t need people “accepting” or “tolerating” who I am.
The full article is here.