Write Your Principal
October 18, 2010 5:23 PM   Subscribe

Want to know what your old high school is doing to protect and support its LGBTQ students? Write Your Principal encourages and collects correspondence about anti-bullying efforts between alumni and their alma maters. [via projects]
posted by lalex (17 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I am debating whether to send one to my old K-12 school. Either the response would be a delightful surprise to me, or the letter would just fall into the inbox like an empty Coke bottle from a clear African sky.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:03 PM on October 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Well I went to catholic school, so I guess I kind of already know the answer.
posted by saraswati at 6:09 PM on October 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


(That's not to say that the project isn't great, or that I won't write him a letter anyway)
posted by saraswati at 6:11 PM on October 18, 2010


Hi! This is my jam right now!

saraswati, I went to Catholic school, too. And the answer is actually that they SHOULD be doing more, because the Church recognizes the full humanity of GLBTQ people. Check out this article [PDF alert, "Gay Adolescents in Catholic Schools"]. And think about donating a GLSEN Safe Space kit to the school. There are a few letters to Catholic schools on the site right now, too--would love to have more.
posted by liketitanic at 6:12 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


or the letter would just fall into the inbox like an empty Coke bottle from a clear African sky.

So your principal will go to the end of the Earth to respond appropriately to your letter? Cool!
posted by Salvor Hardin at 6:26 PM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Done!

Dear Dr. Thoenes,

I graduated from x High School in 1997. While a student there, I was involved in a lot of activities such as Quiz Bowl, drama and choir as well as student government. I think back on that time with some fondness, partly due to the influence of my teachers, especially Mr. Duffey and Mr. Bartel, whom I see are still teaching there. I was close with Mr. Bowles as well. But it was also difficult for my LGBT classmates, in particular my twin sister, because they were treated badly by other students. I distinctly remember my sister and close friends being openly teased in classrooms and hallways without repercussions. I also remember a classmate wearing a t-shirt that said "Silly Faggot, Dicks are for Chicks" t-shirt and when I raised objections to it, I myself was teased for being offended.

Fortunately, my LGBT classmates and my sister have gone on to have productive and happy lives.

I wish I could say that everything is better for gay kids today, but of course it’s not.

* Gay lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students hear anti-gay slurs about 26 times a day, or every 14 minutes. (National Mental Health Association, 2002) .
* According to a 2005 National School Climate Survey by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, bullying around issues of sexual orientation, non-conforming gender behaviors and dress was the most common form of bullying, second only to issues of appearance (e.g., body size and disability).
* For every lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth who is bullied, four straight students who are perceived to be gay or lesbian are bullied.
* LGBTQ teens are more than twice as likely as their heterosexual peers to be depressed and think about or attempt suicide.
* And of course the recent suicides of Tyler Clementi, Justin Aaberg, Seth Walsh, Raymond Chase, and Billy Lucas add a sorrowful urgency to this situation.

In response to the spate of suicides, many people are speaking out a little more and there is a project called “Write Your Principal” (www.writeyourprincipal.com) in which people ask their principals what is being done at their schools to ensure a safe and friendly environment for all kids, including the gay kids.

I do not live in x, but if I did live nearby, I would offer to help in anyway possible to make this happen.

You were not my principal in 1997, obviously, but you are the principal at my old school, so I ask you to ask you what you are doing to prevent bullying at x, and to make the campus safe for LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff.

I know that x has changed as a community since the late 1990s and I hope that it has become a more tolerant and welcoming place.

Sincerely,
k8t
posted by k8t at 6:53 PM on October 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


I read the other letters and discovered that someone else had a kid with a Silly Faggot Dicks are for Chicks shirt. Weird.

Hope the spam filter doesn't block it.
posted by k8t at 8:13 PM on October 18, 2010


A friend of mine did this last week, sending a letter to the principal of the very exclusive prep school where she was a charity student (and harrassed by both students and faculty for their perception that she was a lesbian) back in the 80s. The principal (not the same one as when she was there) called her a couple of days ago to discuss her letter; she said it felt pretty darn good.
posted by not that girl at 8:39 PM on October 18, 2010


Q? I'm guessing for Queer? What does that cover that LGBT doesn't?

Serious question.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:35 PM on October 18, 2010


Q is for questioning.
posted by lullaby at 9:51 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Q can also be for queer. Some people like to identify that way because it allows for a more fluid concept of sexuality. Some people like it because it moves beyond the idea of gender as a binary. It's also an identity with kind of a heritage of radical political activist connotations, which appeals to some people.

Wikipedia's got a pretty decent synopsis on the use of queer "as a contemporary antonym of heteronormative."
posted by sigmagalator at 10:35 PM on October 18, 2010


k8t: "I read the other letters and discovered that someone else had a kid with a Silly Faggot Dicks are for Chicks shirt. Weird."

This seems to have been a popular joke around that time. It was actually told by the student MC at the high school battle of the bands one year when I was in school (graduated in '99). My suburban Alabama high school classmates and faculty didn't even bat an eye.
posted by This Guy at 5:34 AM on October 19, 2010


Well, in truth it'd be good if they could prevent bullying for all students.
posted by Sutekh at 6:17 AM on October 19, 2010


OK, the 'q = questioning' makes sense. 'q = queer' is fine, but odd as an adjunct to LGBT, which it would replace.

Thanks for the insight.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:26 AM on October 19, 2010


OK, the 'q = questioning' makes sense. 'q = queer' is fine, but odd as an adjunct to LGBT, which it would replace.

Well, not exactly. Some people identify as queer specifically and explicitly NOT as LGBT, and some people identify as LGBT and not as queer. It's a complicated political issue among LGBTQ folks.

The acronym at its most complete is LGBTQQIA = lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and allies.
posted by liketitanic at 12:10 PM on October 19, 2010


My HS principal wrote back. Yay!
posted by k8t at 1:06 PM on October 19, 2010


The acronym at its most complete is LGBTQQIA = lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and allies.

OK, I see the appeal of just going with 'queer.'
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:12 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


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