Friday, May 23, 2008

Minority Status

What I realized today is that I am in the minority. I have never considered being part of the minority before - it just never occurred to me. But I am...

I live in the Deep South, the Bible Belt. Honestly, I love it here...until something happens to rile up the unyeilding prejudices that exist all around me. This week I was hit with two such situations - suicide and the GSA. The double hit made me realize that I exist in a minority and that I don't like it very much.

I mentioned earlier that one of my daughter's classmates committed suicide this week. It was a shock to all. The statement I hear most from my daughter and her friends is, "I don't understand." They didn't notice any signs, they didn't have a clue. They are confused and hurting. The last thing they need is for adults to tell them that their grief is misplaced and that their friend is in hell. (I don't care what you believe, a teenager in grief does NOT need to hear this!)

I have explained to my daughter that the confusion does not stop with her and her friends. The adults around them are confused, too. They expect that other teens wouldn't notice anything wrong, but they hold themselves responsible for not noticing anything wrong. Adults do not like to be afraid. Generally they express fear in one of two ways: They get angry or they avoid it. Neither are "good" methods for dealing with fear and neither give our teens constructive guidance in how to deal with their own fears. But it is what we do. If we can compartmentalize, then we can accept; if we can accept, then we can deal. Being in the dark, without a clue, is more frightening to adults than to teens.

Adults need to realize that their actions - and reactions - are closely watched by teens in order to decide how they, too, should act/react. We need to do a little better with the compassion, understanding, and guiding.

As if this was not enough this week, our local high school principal resigned from his post becuase he was told that he must allow a chapter of the Gay-Straight Alliance at his school. He went further to state, "I feel the formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance Club at (name of high school) implies that students joining the club will have chosen to or will choose to engage in sexual activity with members of the same sex, opposite sex, or members of both sexes." He elaborated further, saying that the school's sex education was abstinence based and he felt that the GSA was not of the same philosophy. Yes, we made CNN again - I am highly embarrassed to say.

The Gay-Straight Alliance is not about “having sex.” The GSA provides “a safe place for students to meet, support each other, talk about issues related to sexual orientation, and work to end homophobia.” Furthermore, the GSA is a “support group to provide safety and confidentiality to students who are struggling with their identity as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or questioning.” But even when this nonthreatening fact is explained to the school administration and faculty, there is still a problem.

Teachers are admonishing students who are in support of the GSA to the point of questioning whether they are Christian. If they are, then they must not understand the implications of the GSA, or they would definitely not support it.

What is with the bigotry and the ignorance in this town? Twice in one week a group of students struggling to become healthy, happy, productive adults have been informed that they are going to hell in a handbasket for displaying tolerance, understanding, and compassion. Somehow I thought those were desirable qualities in a human being.

Heaven help us all.

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