Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hot seat for teacher? Teen outed

A middle school administration was briefly in the hot seat after it “outed” a student as being gay. The assistant principal contacted parents of the boy after his teacher came to the office with concerns over the boys safety.

Spokeswoman for the school district, Rhonda Bromley told reporters that the students in a class at Willowcreek Middle School in Lehi had been assigned to create an advertisement about themselves that would hang on the classroom wall. This 14-year-old student's ad was about him being gay.

“The teacher asked the student if he wanted his ad put up on the wall with the rest of the class. He said yes. School officials then worried the student was a potential target for bullying because of negative comments overheard in the hallway.” Said Bromley.

"When there started to be a little bit of a negative response to that, the administration called him in and got involved," Bromley said.

"The assistant principal spoke to the student and discovered the student's parents did not know about his sexual orientation. The assistant principal decided it was important to let the boy's parents know about their concerns over bullying.

"In that case, it's absolutely important that we include parents any time there is a safety issue that has to do with the student. It's the responsibility of the school to include the parent," Bromley said.

On Dec. 7 the parents were called in for a meeting with the assistant principal, which the student did not attend.

At about this same time, said the report, a Face book page was created with the student's name, saying he was outed by the school to his parents. It also said he had been suspended for being gay. Bromley says the school did not suspend the boy, but his parents decided to keep him home.
So, I tried to go on face book and get some information.  There is, nothing available to me on face book, which, I must say, pleased me no end.  Of course, these people are underage, so without knowing their names, there should be no way to access this.  So far so good.

I wondered why a face book page was created in the first place and I came up with two reasons.  The first is the old fashioned paranoid response of "gay is wrong--get him out of the school". The second is that someone was trying to be proactive and make the public aware that a possible miss justice situation was brewing for this kid.  If that is the case, then one can forgive, and kudos for someone for trying to make others aware.

Fact is I don't know which.

The Alpine school district and middle school itself have received quite a few angry communications based on the fact that people have assumed that the kid was "in trouble," which is not true, Bromley said. 

The district defends the way the incident was handled, saying the boy had made his sexual orientation public at school and educators had an obligation to let parents know about potential bullying and safety concerns.

"We need to step in and do whatever it takes to make these students feel safe," Bromley said.
"If it's happening at school, we have the responsibility to include the parents and let them know what's going on so they, too, can do what they can to keep an eye on things at home, so they can help that student feel support and safe, not just at school but when they are at home, as well," she said.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Romney Grilled By Veteran On Same-Sex Marriage

A Vietnam veteran took a bite out of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney at a campaign stop in a New Hampshire cafe on Monday.  Romney approached Bob Garon, a gay man seated at the Chez Vachon restaurant, taking note of the man's hat which was indicated the man was former Military.

"A Vietnam veteran!" Romney said, and took a seat at the gentleman's booth, which he was sharing with his husband.

Garon's first question was about New Hampshire's gay marriage law.  Garon asked the presidential candidate if he supported repealing state legislation, which currently allows same-sex couples to get married.

"I support the repeal of the New Hampshire law," Romney responded. "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. That's my view."

Garon responded, "It's good to know how you feel, that you do not believe everyone is entitled to their constitutional rights,"

"No, actually, I think at the time the Constitution was written it was pretty clear that marriage is between a man and a woman," Romney replied. "And I don't believe the Supreme Court has changed that."

Romney has said throughout the early stages of his presidential campaign that same-sex marriage was a state issue before announcing his support for a constitutional amendment banning such unions.
The Associated Press report on Romney's cafe stop claimed that an aide then tried to pull Romney from the conversation because the candidate "had another interview with Fox News Channel.

"Oh, I guess the question was too hot," Garon replied, at which point Romney said he had given Garon a yes or no answer as requested.

Garon said to reporters that he had married his husband in June, and had done so "in New Hampshire, where it's legal. Unless Mitt Romney gets elected."


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Circle in the Square

I must be living in a hole.

Apparently I missed a three-day conference for LGBTQ and same-sex attraction Mormons, on sexuality and religion in Salt Lake City, Utah, several weekends ago. 

Quick non-side-bar side-bar -- I have tried to focus my learning of spiritual things to what is available in the church.  I have felt that there is safety in sticking to the side I feel is right.  Obviously, I haven't scratched the surface of current knowledge available.  I also have experienced the spirit bearing witness to me on a few subjects, and I know of the veracity of learning through the spirit. 

In my reading, I was blown away the other day by a "civilian book" on a civilian subject.  I didn't agree with what was being represented, but it opened my mind to a new idea, which in turn affected (read strengthened, clarified, what have you,) what I thought I already knewIt sufficeth to say, for now, that when I hear of a gathering of people claiming to seek and share knowledge, I pay more attention now than I used to even a week before.

The event, which attracted more than 300 participants of varying faiths, was sponsored by Mormon Stories and the Open Stories Foundation, organizations with no official affiliation with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, according to the Deseret News.  

I looked them up.  So far "them" is a "he" who states that he is a member of the LDS church in good standing, and yes, this is important to me. 

The conference sported the name “Circling the Wagons” which I think is appropriate for the issue and for the roots -  at least in name - of the organization sponsoring it.  Featured speakers were various clergy, therapists, artists and writers who tried to create a place to "gather to acknowledge, explore and honor shared experiences."  

The conference was created for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and same-sex attracted persons and their families who had a background in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Deseret News was clear to report that “Homosexuality isn't supported by the LDS Church, but the church reportedly strives to "understand and respect" those with same-sex attractions.” 

Featured was a speech from Kevin Kloosterman, an LDS bishop from Illinois.

"I began to see the emotional wounds and scars that many of you have today, and I began to ask, 'Where did you get these wounds?' And the answer, unfortunately, was in the house of my friends. And when I felt that answer, I grieved and wept as any parent would for their own child," he said.

Again, I know little about the Mormon Stories Organization.  On its website, Mormon Stories states that it is “an internet blog and podcast (i.e. radio/TV show) created in 2005 by John Dehlin. Inspired by Terry Gross - Fresh Air, and Charlie Rose, Mormon Stories seeks to "interview interesting people about Mormon-related current events, issues, media and culture.”

In the podcasts FAQ’s, there is a short essay by Dehlin who records his background with the LDS church.

From what I read, volunteers participated in recorded segments for the "It Gets Better Project," a popular video campaign aimed at young adults who are harassed because of their sexuality – a project I have long admired.

As far as “by their fruits ye shall know them” goes, (unfortunate, unavoidable pun that always makes me giggle) this organization seems to be, by definition, “good” -- promoting understanding, respect, and the gaining of knowledge.

If anyone has experience with the conference or the Mormon Stories organization, feel free to comment.