So, here's the skinny:
In Rhode Island, a piece ran in a local-news website about the Tiverton High School's new GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance). It's a really nice article, about how as her school project a gay senior started the GSA, and how it's become so much more for her - mainly a safe space, a catalyst for change, a "family."
The article has gotten a lot of comments (over 300), including one from the above-named elected official. Here's his comment (a second posting) that started the firestorm:
Bill, I didn't delete the comment. In fact just got off of the phone with the editor and had a conversation about it. I stand by what I said. Here is again, under my name.
"And this is why if I have anything to say about it, Tiverton will lose school funding to local charter schools. It doesn’t matter if gay or straight, if sexual meet-up groups are being promoted in our schools rather than improving test scores, that school is failing. Is it really more important for our children to get ’sexed-up’, than learning advanced math?"
According to the article about this at Advocate.com,
Gordon went on Providence radio station WPRO Thursday to explain his stance further. He said he is not antigay, that he has a gay cousin and gay friends, and that he served alongside gay people in the Marine Corps. He also said, “Anything of a sexual nature should not be taking place at a taxpayer-funded facility,” adding, “When I was in school, if there was a group for heterosexual students that was going to be meeting after school, I would all day be thinking about who are all the new faces that would be there tonight. That’s just human nature.”
Sexual Meet Up Groups? Getting Sexed-Up?
Wow. I've been an advisor to a Los Angeles area High School's GSA for the last three years, and I can tell you that so much of what is discussed is how to deal with this kind of ignorance and misinformation about what it means to be queer. A GSA meeting is one where students get together in a safe environment and are able to talk about the challenges and triumphs in being themselves - gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and straight allies. They talk about TV shows and homework, racism and homophobia, language and attitudes. In fact, here are 14 weeks worth of topics that many GSAs have used as starting points for their own discussions.
Cynda, the teen who started the GSA, responded to Rep. Gordon , and I like her comment so much I'll share it here:
4:56pm on Thursday, March 31, 2011
I figured by now it was high time I post something up. Being the creator of the THS GSA I am absolutely shocked. I am shocked that a representative would say such harsh and insulting comments on a topic he clearly knowns nothing of. As I said on a different article, nowhere in our agenda is there anything about sex, or sex related topics. Not only is the topic of sex completely irrelevent to the purpose of a GSA, but that is not a topic to be discussed. Mr. Forrest, our advisor, and myself, wouldn't allow it. We are here to make a change, to make a difference, in the school and the lives of the students that go here. We're trying to get people to understand that bullying, and not just towards gays, is wrong. We need people (students) to know that if they are having a problem at school, or even at home, and they don't know where they belong, that they can come to us. We will be there to support them no matter what, because we believe in equality. No matter what your gender is, or your sexual orientation, your race, religion, anything..we are all equal. That is what this GSA, and all other GSA's are for. Not for getting "sexed-up." Not even anywhere near that. I am absolutely in shock that Gordon, and those who agree with him would make such an assumption. You claim you are adults. Why don't you try acting like one, and start learning about those things that you don't quite understand before making assumption that aren't only rude, but also insulting and hurtful to others.
Thank you, Cynda.
And really, Representative Gordon. If you're so concerned with education, perhaps you could become better educated yourself about what really happens at Gay-Straight Alliance meetings before assuming that everything to do with gay people instantly becomes all about sex. Presumably, the state government of Rhode Island is full of heteroSEXuals. Would I be correct to assume that you are all able to go about the business at hand without yourselves getting all "Sexed Up" simply by meeting with each other?
I find this combination of ignorance and homophobia so frustrating.