Monday, July 25, 2005

Negativity at The Blade

I want to take exception with an editorial in a recent Washington Blade. Graham Murtphy writes:
OUR YOUTH ARE under attack. Within the Washington, D.C. area, where some of the largest gay organizations and brightest activists reside, we are losing the battle for LGBT youth.

School districts in the suburbs that surround the District are giving in to the pressures of religious conservatives when it comes to issues like protecting the safety and health of LGBT youth. Unfortunately, our efforts to stop the conservatives seem to be failing.

The success religious conservatives are having at harming LGBT youth is epitomized in their recent victory in Montgomery County, Md. Losing the Battle for our Youth

There are two tricky questions here. First, how do you define winning and losing? Second, who are "we?"

The CRC and PFOX were successful in stopping this year's deployment of the new curriculum. But now everything is settled, and progress can begin again on developing a new one. If you want to call winning the lawsuit a "victory," then ... OK. The other side won.

But all they did was postpone the inevitable. If Superintendent Jerry Weast is good to his word, this new curriculum will be rock-solid in terms of fearlessly dealing with sexual variation issues. If I am reading the board members correctly, they are more serious than ever about this. The CRC tried everything, and everything failed ... except one thing. And even in the lawsuit, they threw everything into it, and one little thing stuck. Most of their anti-gay arguments were laughed off by the judge. The rest of it had to do with background resources, and can be dealt with easily.

Second thing: who are "we?" You say:
Conservatives used anti-gay rhetoric and classic "judicial activism" to prevent the curriculum’s implementation on religious grounds.

The response from the gay community was tepid and weak. The response from the "ex-gay" community, which spearheaded the movement against the curriculum, was exuberant and triumphant.

WHAT HAPPENED IN Montgomery County is now a successful model of how conservatives plan to exploit LGBT youth for their own political gain throughout the country.

-- which leads me to think that by "we" you mean the gay community, mainly.

And that's tough. Because in some ways, this isn't the gay community's fight.

To a lot of us, this is not a "gay rights" issue, it's an educational issue. We who have kids in the schools do not wish for them to be indoctrinated into some crazy, hateful way of thinking. They're growing up, and they need to know what's going on with their bodies, their emotions. We want them to learn the facts, clear-eyed and fearless.

No, I take that back. To most of us in this battle it's a community issue, for the entire community. We want to have a quality life here in Montgomery County, where people think clearly and critically, where neighbors can be kind to one another. I mean, we have really got a lot of different kinds of people in this county, unbelievable really who lives just in my little neighborhood. And yeah, the topic of the class is sexual variation, and the big thing is that sexual orientation is going to be discussed a little bit in the classroom. And the gay community, I'm sure, would feel more comfortable if they were not regarded as pariahs. But this kind of attempted takeover of the school district by a secretively plotting cell of radicals, tightly connected to their national organizations, is a threat to all of us, not just gay people.

We have members of our group, too, who seem to focus of the fact that CRC/PFOX won the lawsuit and got their way, in terms of stopping the 2004 implementation of the new curriculum. But realize, in doing that, they alienated the entire community, including the PTAs, the school boards, and parents of schoolchildren all across the county. They can pull stuff, we do expect them to file another lawsuit, and we know we have to pay attention to next year's school board elections, but they're not winning anything.


Anonymous Tish said...

Dear Jim,

I have read Graham Murphy's editorial and I have written to him about it. I do not find it negative in the same way that you do. Murphy is writing to a particular audience about a particular issue, and that issue is whether the adult gay community is actually being a community to gay youth. There is very little support for gay teens. The one organizationin this area that serves them, SMYAL, is stretched pretty thin. when a teen is kicked out of the house because his parents find out he is gay, there is no safe shelter for him to seek. He is lucky if he has friends to take him in. (and the same goes for girls) If I can I will send you a stranscript of Maya Keyes coming-out speach in Annapolis last February. She was very focused on this point.

I believe that Graham Murphy is using our curriculum situation to point out to his readers yet another example of apathy in the face of a youth-centered problem. his negativity is not directed at us.

At the same time, you are right that this is not over and the community involved is bigger than Murphy's audience. Let's look for alliance here. There should not be a conflict between looking out for youth and looking out for gay youth. They are all our kids.

July 26, 2005 12:16 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

A day or two of apathy would be kind of restful, actually!

July 26, 2005 1:12 PM  

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