As the end of the school year approaches, I notice that the usual stories are listed in the various gay press newspapers and magazines. Gay/Lesbian students forced out of school or at the very least barred from enjoying the extra-curricular activities offered to the student body.
When interviewed many school officials deny knowledge of any problems at their schools. They acknowledge their student body consists of at least some homosexual students, but they allege they are not harassed or treated any differently from any other student.
Sadly, the gay/lesbian/bisexual students have very different stories to tell. Most report harassment from other students — verbal and physical. Almost all report that they were advised by teachers to keep their sexuality secret. I am sure that the teachers have the best of intentions, but the underlying message remains — this is a shameful secret. And for those students who do not heed the warnings of teachers? Well, they are on their own for no one in authority will get involved. And in fact, they will all turn a deaf ear to the harassment happening around them. After all, the student was obviously asking for it, wasn’t she?
Still and all, every school will be forced to face the annual question — what to do about homosexual students who wish to attend their prom?
I must admit, there have been some very creative answers to this question.
Some schools with arrange a district-wide prom event for GLBT students only. There is obviously something to be said for this idea, as it would eliminate a lot of the fear and stress these students may face were they to attend the regularly scheduled prom. However, as we have often seen, different is rarely equal and though I have not heard any reports of how these proms pan out, my only hope is that they are worthwhile events.
Other schools will ignore the issue and then must deal with the fears and reactions of all in attendance when the few GLBT couples show up. I have not heard of any riots resulting from a school prom attended by GLBT youth, but I imagine it must be a stressful event for all.
This year there is a new twist to the senior class prom, that I doubt anyone could have foreseen.
In a small town just outside of Seattle, Washington, the only out lesbian at Ferndale High School, Krystal Bennett was voted Prom King at the senior class prom. Sounds pretty wild, eh? Well, it gets more exciting. You see, the Prom Queen, Kara Johnson did not mind, nor did her boyfriend. As Ms. Johnson stated, “It’s not that big of a deal. It’s high school. Let it go.”
Well, needless to say, the town of 9000 is not ready to let it go. And neither are some of the religious crazies. Rev. Hate himself — Rev. Phelps — traveled all the way from his home in Kansas to let the townsfolk know that GodHatesFags — though I doubt that was really necessary. Reading quotes from the local politicians and school board members, I suspect they already know the message the Reverend plans to provide.
I suspect all of the hoopla will be over in a week or two, and hopefully everyone will take a little something from this experience. Maybe this will be the catalyst for this town to address its own homophobia — or at least begin the journey.
In reading the details of this story in the various newspapers and magazines, I am struck by a question that I thought I might share — why are heterosexual teens still children but homosexual teens are not?
Until next time…