Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lessons of Hate

Today I had a guest speaker from SIECUS, my homeboy Max, visit my class and students. He shared with us the work he does at SIECUS and showed this film to my class:

Lessons of Hate in the Bible Belt from Stuart Productions on Vimeo.

Have you heard of this issue? Debra Taylor has not been reinstated. One of the things you may notice from watching the video is that the students in the class are from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds. Max shared with us that when he spoke with Debra Taylor, she shared that a majority of the youth at the school are Latino, Native, and Black with a sprinkle of White students. Some of the fears among the students in the class who heard the superintendent say he "hated queers" were Latino and some are not documented and do not feel comfortable talking out against someone of his authority and power. I definitely understand that! I can't recall being a very vocal young person to such people in power at my school either.

If our youth have teachers who want to teach respect for all people, but school authorities are pulling the cord on such efforts, if organizations like GLSEN exist, but schools enforce web monitors that filter out sites that have certain words such as "gay," "lesbian," and "bisexual" so students cannot access these spaces, I can't help but wonder if our schools are perpetuating the death of our youth. Many have argued that schools are breeding grounds for incarceration, they can also be breeding grounds for murder, and with abstinence-only programming, as former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, MD states, a breeding ground for child abuse.

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