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FW: US - Do not fear to speak up for others rights... [The Morgan Hill Times]

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  • Editorial @ 'Peak-View'
    ... From: Brenda Lana Smith R.af D. Morgan Hill Times http://morganhilltimes.com/life/lifeview.asp?c=15639 Do not fear to speak up for others¹ rights Friday,
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2003
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      -----Original Message-----
      From: Brenda Lana Smith R.af D.


      Morgan Hill Times http://morganhilltimes.com/life/lifeview.asp?c=15639

      Do not fear to speak up for others¹ rights

      Friday, February 28, 2003

      By Melissa Ballard

      During my first glorious day back to school from winter break, I was
      once again reminded of the uncivilized world we live in. ³Shut up you
      faggot!² someone said in voice that could be heard from where I was
      sitting.

      I was sitting a fair distance away from this individual. The comment
      wasn¹t directed toward me, but it didn¹t matter. I debated whether or
      not to say anything to this person. I never did, in fear of getting the
      same kind of negative response from them.

      Later, I regretted not saying anything. Why didn¹t I? Fear. The same
      fear that I am not supposed to have because I am what some call, a ³gay
      rights activist.² We are supposed to be fearless. But when it all comes
      down to it, I am just as vulnerable as those who came out of the closet
      to the world. To stand up to someone and kindly tell them to please not
      use those words is often a hard thing to do. It¹s a risky business that
      I am in.

      I never know what kind of response I will get when I politely ask
      someone to not use such words. Complain to an administrator or teacher,
      and you run the risk of further ostracism by peers. I just can¹t win. It
      seems that neither can those teens who struggle through their teens
      years feeling like the odd man out because of their sexual orientation.

      There is more to people than just their sexual orientation. They are
      human beings underneath the label their peers gave them.

      During the last three years, I have learned that some people just don¹t
      change. It doesn¹t matter how many times I ask them to not use such
      words as ³dyke², ³fag² and ³homo.² They have their opinion on the matter
      and it won¹t matter what I say. That¹s what worries me the most.
      Ninety-four percent of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT)
      persons have reported experiencing some act of victimization at least
      once in their lives because of their sexual orientation. And then you
      have to factor in all those who are straight but are victims of gay
      bashing because they ³act gay.²

      Gay bashing has gone beyond just bullying. Columbine and Matthew Shepard
      are crude reminders of the kind of hatred there is towards homosexuals.
      It¹s one thing to push someone around, but to kill them is another
      entirely.

      After what happened at Columbine, President Clinton asked 350 students
      to ³speak up² in support new civil rights protections for homosexuals.
      Kudos for him.

      There are other allies. LGBT individuals and LGBT organizations are
      supported by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU recently filed
      lawsuits against schools in Kentucky and Texas for discrimination
      against gay-straight alliances. In Kentucky, after suspending all clubs
      in order to prevent 30 students from forming a gay student association
      (GSA), the ACLU stepped in. The ACLU charges that both schools violated
      students¹ rights under the federal Equal Access Act and the First
      Amendment.

      Some conservatives hold that, in the beginning, homosexuality was an
      attempt of Satan to disrupt the lineage of the Messiah. Furthermore,
      because they are considered less than human, they are not deemed
      entitled to the basic human rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of
      happiness. So much for the American dream and equality. Doesn¹t America
      pride itself on having equal rights for all?

      So what was it that made this time particularly special, when I hear
      name calling all the time? I noticed people laughing at the comment and
      finding it humorous. But other than that, there was silence.

      Silence. Youth, parents and teachers especially, need to break this
      silence. Because our teachers see us more than our parents do usually,
      teachers know the kind of language that parents don¹t want to admit
      their children use. Or worse, parents use his kind of language
      themselves. Only two out of my five teachers confront students who make
      anti-LGBT comments.

      That¹s just not good enough. Live Oak is lucky enough to have a very
      supportive administration, but the administration can¹t be in all the
      classrooms at once. So, teachers need to start listening to the words
      coming out of their students minds.

      They have to admit that there just may be a gay, lesbian, bisexual or
      transgender individual in their classroom that is being robbed of self
      respect because of anti-LGBT comments. Teachers need to become educated
      on the matter of anti-LGBT bias and make their classrooms a happier
      place.

      In a recent national survey taken by GLSEN, the leading national
      organization fighting to end anti-gay bias in grades K-12, harassment is
      not an uncommon experience for LGBT youth. They are often uncomfortable
      in school because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or
      expression.

      But besides teachers becoming allies in this war on discrimination, so
      do our peers need to be. What can teens do to fight anti-LGBT comments?
      Strike up a conversation about what they think about the issue. Or
      become involved with Live Oak Gay-Straight Alliance events such as The
      Pledge or The Day of Silence, which are coming up in April. Both of
      these events will show your support.

      Melissa Ballard is a senior at Live Oak High School. She alternates
      weekly with Chrissy Bryant in writing Teen Perspective. Contact Melissa
      at editor@... and the Live Oak Gay-Straight Alliance at
      liveoak_gsa@...

      ------------------------------------------------------------------------

      Melissa Ballard is a senior at Live Oak High School. She alternates
      weekly with Chrissy Ramoneda in writing Teen Perspective.

      --
      Kindly appreciate that Brenda Lana Smith R.af D. having had no editorial
      input whatsoever in the above declines to entertain e-mail argument on
      its content...
      --
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