Monday, December 21, 2009

A letter for the Rapid City Board of Education

A letter to Wes Storm, chair of the Rapid City Area Schools Board of education.

I share it here with the permission from Ms Wojahn:
Dear Mr. Storm,

I want to thank you, and other School Board Members, for your work this year, but especially for your decision to include new language in your anti-discrimination policy regarding sexual/gender identity.

I have heard the same arguments, many times before, opposing such specific language. One of my personal favorites, and an old stand-by, is the one about the freckle-faced/red-headed kid who gets picked on all the time. Why not make a specific policy protecting such individuals? Well, I think the answer is very simple.. There is no doubt that these children get picked on from time to time, as do kids with glasses, or kids who pick their noses...but when these kids get bullied and harassed, nobody is making a moral or religious argument in defense of that behavior. The protections currently in place should be sufficient, and most schools have zero tolerance for bullying. Of course not all cases get addressed, and of course not all bullies are dealt with accordingly, but we do the best we can, and the policies that are currently in place are a mechanism to protect these kids.

But the last time I checked, (and I have no hard data to back this up), there wasn't an epidemic of suicides among red heads. The suicide rate among gay and lesbian teenagers is disproportionately higher than that of their straight counterparts. If in no other place in society, schools must be safe havens for all children so that they can participate fully in learning, and in living.

A vocal minority are concerned that by including gender identity in anti-discrimination policies, we elevate gays and lesbians to a special class of people. Personally, I don't believe that's the case. But even if it is, I can live with that if it guarantees that my kid will be afforded the same legal rights as your kid. I don't think this gives certain people special rights. I believe it guarantees the same rights to those specified who are otherwise marginalized by the majority in some way. In this case, religion is used, (and very bad theology), whether the language is candy coated or not, to defend, legitimize, and justify fear, prejudice and even hatred toward gays and lesbians. Well, I don't care how you slice it - THAT'S WRONG.

Please know that for every vocal opponent of this proposed language, for every Dale Bartscher or Gordon Howie, there are a dozen people who are proud of what their School Board did the other night, whether they contact you about it or not. Do not be intimidated by bullies. This is the very thing you are working to prevent.

Most sincerely,
Bethany Wojahn
District 1

2 comments:

  1. Meghan11:20

    Well said.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous11:42

    am in need of getting my granddaughter enrolled in home schooling
    please contact me asap
    thanks

    ReplyDelete