Monday, December 3, 2012

Arizona Principal Punishes High School Boys for Fighting... by making them HOLD HANDS

Here's the full story of what happened last week.

"...the two students at Westwood High School in Mesa, Ariz., who have not been named, were faced with the prospect of either suspension from school, or sitting in chairs in the high school's courtyard and holding hands for 15 minutes during a lunch period. They opted for the latter.

"Kids were laughing at them and calling them names, asking, 'Are you gay?'" student Brittney Smyers told ABC affiliate KNXV.

Teens at the high school inevitably posted photos of the two, who spent the time shielding their faces with their heads in their hands, to social media sites."

Wow.   This says so much. 

And I have some things to say, too.

1.  As a culture we are so messed up about gay people.  The idea that the most humiliating thing possible for a young man would be having people think he was gay is TOXIC, and we have to change that.

2.  By offering this "humiliation" to the students as an option instead of being suspended, the school is acknowledging (and reinforcing) the idea that to be gay - or to be perceived as gay - is bad.

3.   What impact did this have on the queer students at the school?  Can you imagine how unsafe and homophobic the environment must be now?

4.  This shaming of gay people must stop.

5.  The fact that the other students uploaded photos of these two guys holding hands online, so they could share the humiliation on a broader level takes the old-fashioned idea of putting criminals in a public square in stocks into our technologically-driven century.  The two students hid their faces the entire time.

6.  This story makes me equal parts furious and sad.

7.  I wonder if the high school had a Gay-Straight Alliance club, if something like this might not have happened.

Ironically, the high school has an online form so students can, as it says on their website, "Stand Up To Bullying."  

I hope many of the students there fill this out, and cite the Principal's actions.  Because this didn't only affect the two students covering their faces in shame.  This affected the entire school community. 

And it's bullying.



Lisa Jenn Bigelow said...

I would add to your list that it's a shame that in our culture physical touch between men is viewed as an indicator of homosexuality. When boys are very young, they can hold hands with each other and everyone thinks it's adorable. Then they reach a certain age and it becomes stigmatized. Ditto for hugging and kissing.

Greg Pincus said...

This is wrong on so many levels it would be funny if it weren't real. I echo all your thoughts... and look forward to seeing some follow-up. One can hope, at least!

Heather Petty said...

So gross on so many levels. I just keep thinking what that scene would mean to a gay student standing in the crowd and listening to the insults and laughter, seeing shame on the face of the boys. So sad for them.

Anonymous said...

The implication here is not only that being gay isn't OK, but even touching someone of the same sex isn't OK. The homophobia comes with a side order of paranoia about affection itself.

ivanova said...

I agree with all of the above.

Sarah Stevenson said...

I'm just now hearing about this (thanks, Lee, for your newsletter!) and I couldn't agree more with all of your points. And, yes, furious AND sad here too.