Saturday, May 7, 2011

This Is Where I Grew Up...

Clovis, New Mexico, my hometown, made national gay news a few weeks ago for this:

The Clovis, N.M. school board on Tuesday voted unanimously to end all non-curricular clubs from meeting during school hours after a gay-straight alliance applied to become a club.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico accused the district of changing its policy to stop the formation of the alliance at Clovis High School, but school officials said the timing of its decision was a coincidence, and that its policy was already under review.
“This sort of tactic has been used in the past by school districts to discourage gay-straight clubs from forming,” Micah McCoy, communications specialist for ACLU of New Mexico, said on Wednesday. “A lot of alarm bells went off when we saw this.”
Superintendent Terry Myers called the allegations “unfair.”
Non-curricular clubs, such as the gay-straight alliance, will now have to meet before or after school, while clubs deemed to be curricular can still meet during school hours. The non-curricular clubs will also be prohibited from using the school’s public announcement system to communicate with students.

I think I discussed in another blog the uproar that went through the same community when the high school yearbook dared to post the picture of a lesbian couple on its' couples page.  The resultant policy requires the approval of any and all yearbook content by the district's school board.  *insert big eyeroll*

With all of the news reports on teen bullying and suicide rates amongst gay and lesbian youth, you'd think responsible, intelligent adults would create an accepting and positive environment for youngsters who may be questioning and/or coming to terms with their sexual orientation.  Instead, we have districts like Clovis, who take a rigid stance against anything that hints "gay". 

Clovis, and many other similar districts, support organizations such as the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes).  They still pray (prey?) before high school sports games or other school gatherings.  I attended a graduation ceremony in Clovis within the last year, and me (the Atheist) and the school secretary (Jehovah's Witness) were the only two folks out of hundreds who didn't bow our heads.  Who knew I'd have so much in common with a Jehovah Witness?  Clearly, Clovis shuns the minority in favor of the majority, putting any legal questions aside until someone (anyone?) questions current policy.

And here we are again.  The school district has taken a stand...on the side of the closed-minded homophobes.  However, the ramifications for their actions in this case can be far more serious than in the instance of praying before school functions (although I'm not diminishing those actions either, but that's another blog).  What message are LGBTQ youth receiving from their school officials in Clovis?  What message could a highly impressionable, young, gay student gain from watching the school district deny their right to assemble, socialize with and gain support from other LGBTQ students or supporters?  That they are disgusting?  Unworthy?  Undeserving of love and support?  Unequal?  That they are to be feared or shunned?

The Clovis schools have sent a dangerous message to the youth in their community.  They have endorsed bigoted and homophobic behavior and have reinforced ideals which separate gays and lesbians from "the rest of society" and relegate them (us) to second-class citizenry. 

One of the comments posted on the aforementioned news article reads as follows:

"Human rights do not stop once a student enters the doors of their school."

I think I'll print that up on a t-shirt.

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