Thursday, May 1, 2008

Clare Public Schools squashes Day of Silence

If you're a gay kid in Clare Public Schools, you're on your own. The school administration will not support you or assure a safe environment or permit something as benign as participation in the Day of Silence, a national event of solidarity with LGBT youth in schools.

According to a report in the Clare County Review, Clare Public Schools officially prohibited student and teacher participation in the National Day of Silence sponsored by GLSEN.

Clare Board Of Education President Tom Weaver read a statement at the board meeting prior to last Friday's event:

"Teachers will be instructed to teach, and students will be instructed not to post any signs or hand out any literature.
If a student chooses not to participate in classroom activities, they will face the consequences of their actions. Disciplinary action will be taken against any students or teachers causing any type of disturbance relating to the “Day of Silence” issue."

Doesn't the Board of Education realize that harassment on the basis of perceived sexual orientation or gender expression is the most common "disturbance" relating to the "Day of Silence" issue? The issue is creating safe space for all students. Period. Kids are driven to suicide and assaulted every day because of actual or perceived difference. By prohibiting an event that demonstrates support for an inclusive environment, the community leaders are giving a green light for violence and abuse against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender kids.

Even worse, they are tacitly accepting a community standard based on suppressing civil action to protest injustice. They are condoning a community standard of discrimination, intolerance, conformity and fear.

It's bad enough LGBT adults in Michigan continue to face workplace discrimination.

Michigan's future depends on a culture of creativity and diversity and inclusion. That means welcoming gay and lesbian people. And transgender people. And all kinds of different people.

The Clare County Review reported that Rev. Jim Shuster, a bus driver and pastor of the North West Baptist Church, said, “This agenda is the homosexual cause. Are we going to allow this agenda into Clare Schools? It’s sin. Why do we want to legitimize sin in our schools? Our tax based school system should not promote this agenda.”

It's not a homosexual cause, it's a human rights cause. Kids have the human right to be safe in their persons in schools supported by the state.

Michigan, you have a long, long way to go. Please don't shoot yourself in the foot.