Stonewall Youth’s speaker’s panel spoke about bullying at Washington Middle School in Olympia on Wednesday, June 6, 2007.
Alec and I attended a school board meeting on Monday, July 11, 2007, along with youth from Stonewall, members of PFLAG and other folks in the community.
This letter to the editor was published as a Letters to the Editor in The Olympian on July 5, 2007:
Parents were not told the whole truth
A recent letter declared bemusement at the objecting parents’ outrage over a school assembly. I am outraged and angered not because I fear my children’s sexual orientation will be changed. I am angry because we were ill informed about what the assembly was about.
The same author says that if the parents were so concerned we should have read the newsletter. Well, I did read the newsletter and was not concerned at all. The newsletter says “We will have a panel with youth speakers from the Safe Schools Coalition sharing their experience with anti-gay discrimination, and we will have a speaker sharing information about autism and other special needs.” It does not say we will have a panel with youth speakers from Stonewall Youth and they will share their coming out stories with your children.
I challenge the author of that and the other letters to go the Web site of Safe Schools Coalition and the Web and MySpace.com pages of Stonewall Youth. It is like comparing a G rated film to a PG-13 film. When the school district exposes my children to things other than basic curriculum, I expect to be notified and I was not.
The issue is not an intolerance for diversity. I am protective of my children and want the authority figures presenting information to our children to have the credentials to speak in front of children. It is as simple as that.
Elizabeth Hughes, Olympia
So I wrote a letter in response, which was published yesterday, July 28, 2007 in the Olympian:
Stonewall youth know ignorance, intolerance
I am writing in response to Elizabeth Hughes’ letter, “Parents were not told the whole truth.”
She said that it was a presentation by the Safe Schools Coalition. I work for the Safe Schools Coalition, and I didn’t hear about the panel at Washington Middle School until after it happened. I checked with Stonewall Youth, and they said no Safe Schools Coalition folks presented at the event.
Hughes wrote that she wants “the authority figures presenting information to our children to have the credentials to speak in front of children.”
My husband and I attended the school board meeting afterward, and we were very proud of the youth from Stonewall. They spoke eloquently about why they saw the event as important.
As the mother of a young man who committed suicide after he was assaulted in a hate crime based on his affectional orientation on the grounds of Olympia High School 12 years ago, I can assure you that those young people do have the credentials to speak about bullying, harassment and hate. No one understands more than they do how important it is to be able to break through the ignorance, intolerance and bigotry they live with every day. It’s as simple as that.
Gabi Clayton, Olympia
Links to these letters:
Parents were not told the whole truth by Elizabeth Hughes, published on July 5, 2007.
Stonewall youth know ignorance, intolerance by Gabi Clayton, published on July 28, 2007.
Background information, in chronological order:
News: School talk about gays, lesbians riles some parents by Heather Woodward ~ June 8, 2007
Other views: We cannot ignore sexual orientation discrimination, bullying by Marc Brenman, executive director of the Washington State Human Rights Commission ~ June 15, 2007 ~ The Olympian.
In my blog posted on June 15, 2007: Stonewall Youth at a Washington Middle School Assembly, including a June 8, 2007 letter to the editor (not published by the Olympian) by Chris Madsen; and an email from Jeff Loyer, PFLAG-Olympia President on June 12, 2007.
Letter to the Editor: Tolerance for diversity never hurt anyone by Janet Blanding ~ June 21, 2007 ~ The Olympian.
Letter to the Editor: Ours is a diverse culture by Terri Charles ~ June 22, 2007 ~ The Olympian.
And here is an earlier excellent editorial in The Olympian: Youth can embrace diversity or travel path of bigotry by Jerome Johnson, a social worker, lifelong Olympia resident and member of The Olympian’s Diversity Panel ~ March 30, 2007.
Stonewall Youth in Olympia, Washington: a non-profit community organization that supports, informs, and advocates for youth up to 21 years old who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, or who have questions about their sexual orientation or gender identity. The organization was founded in 1991 and today provides a wide spectrum of services, including Youth Outreach, Peer Support Groups, and Community Education.
Safe Schools Coalition: an international public-private partnership in support of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth working to help schools – at home and all over the world – become safe places where every family can belong, where every educator can teach, and where every child can learn, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.