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Homosexuals take note
December 2, 2004 8:19 AM   Subscribe

Are you a gay teen in Utah? Do you want to attend a high school dance with a same-sex date? Better bring a note from your parents!
posted by mr_crash_davis (26 comments total)

 
I feel for the kid. I knew a gay student in my graduating class and the level of bullshit the kid had to deal with was just unbelievable. In the eyes of many of the students anything positive he did was 10x less so and anything negative he did was 10x worse, to say nothing of the hateful and spiteful rumormongering. I know that's pretty typical high school stuff but this kid had it worse than anybody, simply because he was out of the closet. Luckily he had lots of good, supportive friends- I just hope young Mr. Atwood has the same. He seems like a sharp kid, though, sharp enough to know that the high school BS ends in high school.
posted by baphomet at 8:41 AM on December 2, 2004


It is getting increasingly difficult living in this heterosexual dictatorship.
posted by halekon at 8:43 AM on December 2, 2004


Fundies wouldn't have to do this sort of thing if teh gay weren't so contagious.
posted by nofundy at 8:50 AM on December 2, 2004


What's really a bummer is that for Utah, the "permission slip" take is downright progressive. Although I wonder if it might say something as "so long as you are aware your child will burn in hell, and may be sent there early by peers..."
posted by medea42 at 8:55 AM on December 2, 2004


It's for the safety of the children. Wont' somebody please think of the children. *snort*

If they were really concerned about the safety of the gay students, they would establish a zero tolerance policy for harrassment, and they'd stick to it. Any student caught calling names and such should be disciplined immediately, and it should be escalating discipline. This is another case of the stupid "punish the victim" syndrome. The BULLYs should be the ones missing out.
posted by raedyn at 9:14 AM on December 2, 2004


Are you people really that shocked and offended? Come on. Maybe - and I know this is a strange thing to say - maybe the guy in a newspaper article is actually a principle of a highschool, and this really seems like the best way to make sure that the kids' parents are aware that this could possibly be a dangerous thing for their sons to do. Maybe he's wrong and there'sa better way, I don't know, but this as a sign of "heterosexual dictatorship"? Please. Maybe he should have just called up the parents in question and said "I have concerns x, y, and z and I think you should be aware of them and maybe one of you would like to chaperone for this event?"

No, no, you gus are right. Lets collapse into despair at every attempt to deal with the issues as a sign of the end times unless it meets our exacting, after the fact standards.
posted by kavasa at 9:25 AM on December 2, 2004


I wish I was given the option of a permission slip- at least I could have forged my parents' signature. I wasn't allowed to take a same-sex date to my prom in 2001, and that wasn't in Utah but in a school district you might remember in southern California.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 9:27 AM on December 2, 2004


He had been openly BLACK for four years, and his experiences had taught him that peers could be cruel. Screams of "NIGGER," warnings that he would burn in hell, taunts in the hallway. He had heard it all.

Principal Tom Worlton, who acknowledged that racial harassment was an issue in his West Jordan school, told Atwood black couples would need parental permission to attend the dance.

in most places in america, re-writing the story like this would put principal tom worlton out of a job.
posted by three blind mice at 9:36 AM on December 2, 2004


in most places in america, re-writing the story like this would put principal tom worlton out of a job.

Or get you another four years as president.
posted by AlexReynolds at 9:41 AM on December 2, 2004


If they were really concerned about the safety of the gay students, they would establish a zero tolerance policy for harrassment...

Why should only gay students have this sort of protection? What about the nerds, the the fat kids, the ugly kids, etc?

While I agree this whole thing is nuts, why should any group get any more protection than any other?
posted by bh at 9:43 AM on December 2, 2004


...the high school BS ends in high school.

Really? It seems like the high school BS just keeps coming sometimes.
posted by safetyfork at 10:00 AM on December 2, 2004


Why should only gay students have this sort of protection? What about the nerds, the the fat kids, the ugly kids, etc?

While I agree this whole thing is nuts, why should any group get any more protection than any other?


They shouldn't of course, schools should be protecting all their students from bullying, harassment and violence in general. Did you really have to be told that? Its the principal that seems to think that he can't offer a safe environment in his own school. Perhaps he should have attended to this a long time before it got to this point.
posted by biffa at 10:36 AM on December 2, 2004


Oh, shit. This BS reminds me of our senior year high school yearbook. You know the "superlatives" in yearbooks, like "Nicest Smile," "Best Dressed," things like that? The couple voted "Class Sweethearts" by the students in our class was comprised of the two nicest girls anyone knew. And of course there was a moderate-sized shitstorm over the result. For whatever reason, there was real opposition to putting their picture in the yearbook, even though it wasn't in the least inappropriate; I think they were holding hands or something. Anyway, because the students wouldn't let it go, the picture was printed -- and apparently my school doesn't allow a "superlatives" section in the yearbook anymore.
posted by jenovus at 10:37 AM on December 2, 2004


ahh, high school. brings back memories...

most specifically memories of at the graduation of a friend's younger brother and realizing that a kid had just received a special award from the faculty under the heading of "spiritual prize" for surviving being openly gay without getting pissed on by the hockey team. it was a big moment, both for the kid in question for graduating, and for the school for acknowledging that every gay boy before him had to withdraw because they were, well, pissed on by the hockey team.

this was a highly conservative new england prep school, however, it should not have taken until 2001 for one gay boy to survive. i specify "boy" because i was openly queer for all of high school and i didn't get any medals. or any flack from the hockey team.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:48 AM on December 2, 2004


He had been openly gay for four years.... Screams of "faggot," warnings that he would burn in hell, taunts in the hallway. He had heard it all... "I was worried about my safety," Atwood said.

Forget the prom, maybe he should have been required to produce a note from his parents just to show up at school each day.

In any case, if the student is assaulted or injured because the school failed to protect him on school property from known threats, a note from his parents simply permitting him to attend the prom will not necessarily insulate the school from a lawsuit.

State law explicitly places the burden on schools to protect students from harassment and promote tolerance, [ACLU of Utah spokeswoman] said.

It sounds like this school was already in violation of this. If so, the principal's request for the parental note could in itself serve as an admission the school's policy (or lack thereof) with respect to protecting students was known to be inadequate. And four years of harassment should not have been tolerated, permission to attend the dance or no.
posted by jellybuzz at 11:49 AM on December 2, 2004


That's because lesbians are hot, grapefruitmoon. And gay men scare people.
posted by graventy at 12:29 PM on December 2, 2004


kavasa, given that, as you say, this guy is the principal of a high school, his behavior indicates a complete and utter abdication of responsibility for the treatment students receive at his school. Yes, he never says anything homophobic. Yes, many worse things happen other places. But allow us for a moment to use this story that did get reported as a surrogate for those that don't. He isn't doing the worse thing he could do as principle, but nobody can say he's doing the best. No assembly on tolerance, no education on sexual harrassment, no punishment for bullying is ever mentioned. This is completely unacceptable, and allowing this national call-out to go unnoticed (as it will; after all, MetaFilter is just a website) just indicates tacit public consent for local adminstrators' complete lack of commitment to their students' welfare.
posted by rustcellar at 12:35 PM on December 2, 2004


It's not the wars that'll down the American Empire: it's the stupid.
posted by dash_slot- at 12:38 PM on December 2, 2004


The principal is also making sure students have to come out to their parents by doing this.

Bastard.
posted by Hildegarde at 1:00 PM on December 2, 2004


This actually made me cry.

That poor boy, all he wanted to do was go to the prom with the date of his choice. And that cowardly principal, rather than taking the fucking responsibility that he should be taking, instead abdicated.

I can't take this shit anymore. I can't keep looking south of the border and see this happening. Yes, it happens in Canada too.. but not nearly to the same degree (even allowing for differences in population).

I don't know what to do, though. The Far Reich has taken over in your country, and these are people who won't listen to concepts like 'logic' and 'compassion.'

I feel so helpless.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:14 PM on December 2, 2004


Even so, Worlton is not budging. He said his position as principal - this is his sixth year at Copper Hills - gives him wiggle room when it comes to making safety decisions.
"I don't feel like I'm really discriminating," he said. "Unless someone can convince me that it's an unfair policy, we'll live with it."


This cavalier attitude really got to me, because obviously he is not the one "living with it" but rather Atwood and the other gay men who have to either miss the prom or notify their parents " I'm gay and may I go to my prom?"
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:39 PM on December 2, 2004


How do proms typically work in the states? At my highschool in Nova Scotia, you buy a couple of tickets...and go with whoever you want. You're a girl, and you wanna take a female friend? Cool. You're a girl, you wanna take your girlfriend? Cool. You're a guy, you wanna go with guys- as stags, or as dates? Whatev. You wanna take someone from outside of the school, regardless of sex? Sure, just get 'em to sign in with the principle. The relationship between you and your date is the business of no one but you two.

And trust me, this is NOT a progressive high school I'm talking about ...I lobbied for a year to get some kind of Gay Straight Alliance going on, and had admin tearing down posters and writing articles about us in the provincial paper. But prom was never an issue for queer kids, because of the "don't ask don't tell" nature of dates.
posted by stray at 6:04 PM on December 2, 2004


Good point, stray. In Ontario proms seem to be run more by student councils. The adminstration couldn't give two shits who you go with. Nobody knows how you go with. Everyone buys their own ticket. They buy two or four or ten tickets. You write down "I am bringing a guest" or something, if they're nosey enough to bother with that. Whoever you show up with is your own business.

Honestly. America can be confusing sometimes. Why do people care so much? What's going to happen? Drunken ass-sex after the prom, or maybe just a boy-on-boy slow dance? Nobody cares.
posted by Kleptophoria! at 7:25 PM on December 2, 2004


Why don't they just issue an official pamphlet telling us who it's OK to date, and who it's not OK to date...?

Something we can take to court as evidence.
posted by Balisong at 7:56 PM on December 2, 2004


What stray and Klep describe is exactly the way my Atlanta high school worked. Girls or guys often went together when they didn't have dates, and (slow dances excepted, generally) you often saw students dancing with others of the same sex.

So this isn't an "America" thing necessarily; I'm very curious about the whole administrative process around this prom, and how it is that the principal could regulate this at all.
posted by rustcellar at 8:00 PM on December 2, 2004


I'm very curious about the whole administrative process around this prom, and how it is that the principal could regulate this at all.

We're talking about Utah here, not America.
posted by cj_ at 12:29 AM on December 3, 2004


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