A man named Clint McCance recently wrote a series of anti-gay epithets on his Facebook profile. Is this newsworthy in itself? Not really.
What is newsworthy, however, is the fact that McCance is VP of the Midland School District in Arkansas. That’s right; a man who likes “that fags can’t procreate” and “enjoy[s] the fact that they often give each other aids and die” is managing the education of children.
If you wonder why so many schools are hostile places for LGBT youth, look no further than anti-gay school officials. While a large component of anti-gay sentiment is undoubtedly student-driven, if school administrators and teachers were more sympathetic to the unique challenges facing LGBT students, it’s likely that schools would become more tolerant from the top down.
Is anything being done about this? The answer is “kind of.” Soon after taking office, President Obama named Kevin Jennings, founder of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), director of the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools. While this is a good start, the recent LGBT teen suicides suggest that there is much work to be done.
What can you do to help make our public schools safe, welcoming environments? If you don’t work in education, one of the most important things you can do is vote in local elections for LGBT friendly school board and superintendent candidates. I realize this post comes, like, three days late, but keep in mind for future elections that local official can sometimes have huge impacts on the lives of LGBT teens.
If you are a teacher, coming out is one of the best things you can do. Mark Kleinschmidt, the Mayor of Chapel Hill, recently spoke to Blue Devils United about his experience as an openly gay public figure. Kleinschmidt said that one of the biggest regrets of his life was not coming out to his students when he taught high school social studies. Not only do openly gay teachers have the ability to change attitudes by promoting tolerance, but they also serve as crucial role models for LGBT youth. Openly gay teachers are becoming increasingly commonplace, and some have even formed networks, like the Proud Apple Social Club in Chapel Hill.
And don’t even try to tell me that teachers, regardless of sexuality, should keep their private lives out of the classroom. If your elderly Spanish teacher can ramble endlessly about his grandchildren, there’s no reason your English teacher can’t talk about her wife.