Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Straight students feel the effects of anti-gay abuse

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According to an article and TV newstory on Denver 7 (ABC) News, a straight high school student has been forced to quit the cheerleading team because of the endless anti-gay abuse and harassment he suffered at the hands of other students. Cole Graves, a junior at Platte Valley High School in Weld County, Colorado, was one of two male cheerleaders on the team. "I know I'm not gay," he told the Tribune (local Denver newspaper). "It's probably harder for a person who is gay and has to be called names. I feel so sorry for them." ====== Unknown to many, straight students can face just as much anti-gay harassment and abuse as gay students. Students who may be straight but are suspected or assumed to be gay often face the same amount of torment as their gay peers. In Cole Graves' case he received the torment because he participated in what has been, traditionally, been seen as a high school female sport. Many school personnel, like those on the Board of Education of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, refuse to do anything to protect students based on sexual orientation because they think that it will only "justify" a sin. I wonder if they know that it is not just LGBT youth who face harassment on the issue of sexual orientation? They value heterosexuality so much but yet they will even let straight students go without protection and recourse. Persons who are on the boards of education are given one job and one job only: Do what is best for the youth of your community and do all that you can to teach and educate them as well as keep them safe and secure. Many school board members, especially in North Carolina, are failing to do their jobs when it comes to protecting youth. To protect youth, regardless of sexual orientation, is not only an ethical and moral obligation but also a legal one. All persons who sit on the boards of educations, whether that be local or state, should do ALL that they can to protect the youth entrusted to their care. I guess some board members have just not yet figured out that when we say all youth it also includes LGBT youth. America needs to start taking care of its most precious possession: our youth. What does it say about our society if we allow our youth to live in dispair, torment, harassment, prejudice, discrimination, hunger, thirst, poverty and so on and so on. Every society's worth can be measured by one standard: How well it treats and respect's it youngest and most vulnerable members.