Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Personal Petition

We have a petition on our web site that you can fill out, and copies go to us and to the Montgomery County school board. (Click on "Take Action" in the upper righthand corner of this page.) You can edit the text if you want, though most people don't.

A couple of days ago somebody submitted a petition, and they added a really nice message to it. I am taking off their name, because I didn't ask them if I could use this, but once it's speeding through the tubes of the Internets, once it's been emailed to the school board, it's public domain. And actually, I don't think they'll mind.
Dear MCPS Board of Education:

I attended Montgomery County Public Schools from the age of 5 to 16. From Southlake Elementary, to Stedwick Elementary, to Montgomery Village Jr. High, to Gaithersburg High School. In fact, my father worked the majority of his career in MCPS. I was in the gifted-and-talented and honors courses for a large part of my MCPS education. But for years, I continued to believe I belonged in an asylum. For years, I held a deep dark secret that I could not come to terms with. From the age of 4 or 5, I knew I was different than other girls.

While I tried to temper the fact I had kissed my best friend in second grade, or I was in love with my third grade teacher, or I had a huge crush on a girl in 4th grade...while I tried to temper that by trying to have crushes on boys, it only led me into a deep dark depression that started as early as 5th grade and continued through 10th grade, when I finally chose to interrupt my fall towards suicide by quitting high school.

Whether it's nurture or nature, it doesn't really matter. I know if there were accurate information in the schools, if I had had LGBTQ role models, if information were presented in 5th grade and 8th grade sex education to isolate gender role/sex assignment, gender identity, sexual orientation, gender expression, cultural indications of masculine and feminine - I may not have hated myself so much. It wasn’t until I was twenty-three and I finally came out that I finally understood where my pain came from.

I urge you to consider the LGBTQ students and children, and for their sake, vote to have a broad sex education curriculum. We, LGBTQ children whose adolescence is broken from society's rejection, do not ask for such animosity to be showered upon us. Religious beliefs have no place in the educational system. It was difficult enough, as a Hindu, to deal with having to say 'one nation under God' when we were required to do the pledge of allegiance, but to present the intolerant views of religious fundamentalists is unconstitutional and detrimental to the psyches of children.

While students whose religious beliefs prohibit them from accepting homosexuality have that right, they are not directly harmed by the presentation of the facts, that people like me exist. But if you fail to have a curriculum that acknowledges our existence, you will harm students like me directly. What you communicate by not including accurate information in the curriculum and mixing religion (neither proven or refutable), science (testable hypothesis), and/or putting them side-by-side as if they have equal merit is to only support bigotry and intolerance, and promote bullying and hateful acts against children who are or are perceived to be different ...

The usual petition text follows.

See, in one way, this is what it's all about. This poor girl did not know what was going on. Your parents don't prepare you to be a lesbian, they're as surprised, and probably just as ignorant, as anybody. It can't be wrong to give middle and high school kids a heads up -- some people feel different, it doesn't mean there's something wrong with you. She talks about feeling suicidal, living a fake life, trying to have crushes on boys, feeling like she must be mentally ill. It is not that hard to send a lifeline to a kid like that.

This is one strong case, out of several, for giving good, honest information about sexual orientation. The Nutty Ones will claim that the classes "promote" homosexuality, as if it was something you caught by being exposed to it. But you know that's not correct; some people are just that way, innately. Here's a concrete example, as clear as can be. I don't see any reason for the school district to promote denial as the alternative.

These classes are objective, they're low-key, they stick to the facts. Here's how some people are, no need to judge or hate or fear.

Oh, the CRC hates those vignettes! They sent them to all the families at the pilot-test schools, as if it were some scary thing. Imagine, first-person accounts of what it's like growing up gay, or transgender, imagine the horror of seeing what that's like! Imagine empathizing with those people!

Naw, it's time to get over it. The person who wrote this petition statement is very eloquent; we should be remembering these students who are in the classrooms right now, suffering, confused, needing knowledge.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The heroes of the upsidedown right:

their junkie = Rush Limbaugh

their freak = Ted Haggard

their pervert = Mark Foley

their illegal immigrant = Ahmed Chalabi

March 23, 2007 6:56 AM  

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