In the post I wrote yesterday, I discussed recent comments Gordon had made regarding the Tiverton High School GSA and also mentioned how other officials and the school’s superintendent had publicly voiced their disapproval of his remarks and support for the group. The growing chorus of responses to his comments is a very good thing and several people had called out how inappropriate and misguided his attitude was.
I wanted to point out one response in particular that was excellent. Today, in a Letter to the Editor on the Patch website ,where Gordon’s initial inflammatory comment appeared, an alumni of Tiverton High, Sarah Jey Whitehead went a step further. In her letter she completely spells out why his statements and disapproval aren’t just out of line, but actual homophobic harassment and bullying in that they single out students who identify as LBTQ and their supporters in an attempt to silence their visible identities in school. She explains to him the difference between sex and sexuality, and the identity politics that go along with that. My favorite part is where she very clearly and eloquently breaks down the heteronormative culture of the average high school:
High school itself could essentially be conceived of as one big Straight Club that everyone is, by default, expected to join. From what I have heard, the Tiverton GSA is responding constructively and respectfully to that dynamic, by initiating a dialogue that acknowledges sexualities that are often overlooked or condemned.
We are talking about protecting and supporting young people’s senses of self here- and in equating this agenda with delinquency, lewdness, and cruelty, I hope you understand that you are bullying too.
And, on that note, an Anti-Bullying Alliance sounds like a great idea for another new organization- but changing the current title of the GSA would not only deny their right to name the social issue immediately at hand for them, but it in effect would imply that there is something wrong with discussing that issue. Seeing that the Straight Club that is High School culture can persist as it has without debate around the issue of sexuality, it would appear that sexuality is not the issue here, but gay people, and those who choose to ally with them.
Word, Sarah Jey Whitehead. Perfectly put.
It is important that this appeared on the local Patch website, not only as a direct rebuttal to Gordon’s latest hi-jinks, but as a primer for the entire town and community. Although I was happy to see how many comments support the GSA, the town also has several vocal comment-trolls that don’t see any problem privileging their opinions and religious beliefs about gay people over the safety of students and their right to not be bullied or told to lie and stay silent. And her letter is the first that doesn’t just say “Shame on you” to Gordon, but distinctly spells out the reasons why his attitude is fucked up and calls him out for the true plain homophobia at the root of his supposed concern to taxpayer dollars. Please go read the entire letter because it’s excellent.
And Ms. Whitehead if you read this, thank you for bringing the verbal smackdown to a debate that really needed your voice. Well done.