Thursday, April 08, 2010

Speak up

I've visited the Holocaust museum in Washington DC several times in my life and whenever I read the following poem (attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller), I got chills.

Who am I kidding? I still get chills when I read it.


"THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.

THEN THEY CAME for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up."


You may be thinking, "Alright, Happy Fun Pants, why are you posting it now?" Because I am overcome with the injustice that has happened to the kids at a school in the Itawamba school district in Mississippi.

Let me back up.

Once upon a time, there was a female named Constance McMillen. She apparently had self-awareness at a young age of such a magnitude that I'm not even sure that *I* possess now at 32. Constance McMillen knew and felt that she was gay. She had the bravery to live openly gay.

So this year, she wanted to go to her senior prom. She wanted to go with her girlfriend. She wanted to wear a tuxedo. She was told by her school officials that she couldn't go. She contacted the ACLU.

The ACLU sent a demand letter to the school.

The school cancelled prom. I'm not an expert, but I'm pretty sure that when you cancel senior prom and blame it on one girl, that girl becomes pretty damn unpopular. Unpopular enough to get her butt kicked on a regular basis.

Nice, Itawamba Agricultural High School. If you can't ban her from the prom, why don't you banish her from any social circles in high school too. That's a GREAT way to treat others.

But it gets worse.

Private citizens in the community decided to have their own prom. If it's a private prom, they can invite whoever they want, right? Only enough people across the nation found out about it and got mad...so the private citizens said that the prom was cancelled and a NEW prom was going to be held.

A new prom that everyone can go to - hooray! Yes, yes...now the prom is going to be held at a *special* location. All are invited.

Only (and I'm sure you're shocked) that's not exactly what happened. The cancelled prom was never really cancelled - the "regular" students went to their prom. And the students that showed up at the "fake" prom? There was only seven: Constance, her date, and five other people (two of which have learning difficulties that made them unpopular too).

This kind of stuff HAS to stop!

The intoleranceS we have are ones we pass on to our children. I'm furious at the people that hide behind the Bible or Book of Mormon as a way to justify the treatment of people that are openly gay. I understand that you don't think that what they're doing is right. I get it, really I do.

BUT IT'S NOT UP TO YOU! YOU do not get to decide what happens to others.

What happened to this passage from Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)??

36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus
replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your mind.' 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the
second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40All the Law and the
Prophets hang on these two commandments."

or this one from Matthew 7:4 (NIV):

How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,'
when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

Put down your bullhorns and your picket signs where you're protesting the existence and practice of gay people. Look on yourself for ways that you can personally improve yourself. If you believe in a God, let GOD figure out what is right and what is wrong. Let GOD handle the condemnation or exoneration.

In the meantime, LOVE one another.

I'm not gay. And although others may attest differently, I don't have learning disabilities. But I am choosing to stand up for those that are not treated equally. I'm choosing to sign my name to the petition that you can find at this link to help send schools a "Welcoming Schools" guide. According to the Human Rights Campaign site:
"Welcoming Schools" is a new, comprehensive guide for administrators, educators,
parents and guardians who want to strengthen their schools’ approach to family
diversity, gender stereotyping and bullying.
I'm choosing to stand up for equal treatment.

I hope you join me.

6 comments:

Misspudding said...

Absolutely horrible. It's the same thing they did to people of color in the south back in the 60s. One school in Georgia finally had an unsegregated prom in 2008. Messed up.

This kind of stuff reminds me of the song, "Mississippi Goddam", by Nina Simone. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAYVaHEMK0I

Reality said...

Great post. One of the best I have read.

Rachel said...

Following the case in MS as it was unfolding was both interesting and sad. All the people I knew stood up against it and wrote letters and such. Thanks for the HRC links.

Charlie Hills said...

Well said...

Paula Rodriguez said...

Thank you for writing this post. I heard about this incident on the news and I wish people would just accept others without judgment.

Paula

Lisa (the girls' moma) said...

Are you channeling Dan Savage??? :)

Actually, I haven't listened to Dan in a couple of weeks so I haven't heard that last part yet. So devious and horrible.

Kel and I talked about this quite a bit one day and he asked me to play devil's advocate - apparently he hates when we agree and must force me to argue with him sometimes - and here's another thought to consider:

Public schools do not HAVE to have a prom. A prom is not a right. We had issues with our own prom this year - nothing like this, but issues nonetheless - and this is what I kept thinking. We don't OWE you a prom! You GET a prom and you're not going to if you don't stop complaining!

Now that in no way means I agree with the way that individual was treated, but it's still true. It's a public school.

Ugh - did I just throw myself on the chopping block, or what?

(Thanks a LOT, Kelly!)