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Graeme Taylor, 14, Is Sticking Up For Michigan High School Teacher Jay McDowell. And He Is The Awesome

You aren’t the only ones outraged Michigan high school teacher Jay McDowell was suspended for a day without pay after trying to make his classroom a place for acceptance rather than intolerance. So too is 14-year-old Ann Arbor student Graeme Taylor, who told Howell High School’s board we need more McDowells, not fewer.

This boy is amazing.

After McDowell was disciplined for telling a student to remove a confederate flag belt buckle (because it represented racism) while defending the purple clothing of Spirit Day, Howell administrators insisted McDowell was at fault for infringing on students’ First Amendment rights. Not cool, Taylor declared in front of the school board at a packed meeting on Monday.

Quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Taylor told board members about how their district isn’t just home to the KKK (Grand Wizard Robert Miles lived nearby before he died), but to intolerant students who drove him, at the age of nine, to attempt suicide.

What McDowell tried to do, says Taylor, was move the needle ever so slightly in the other direction and defend LGBT kids who have found hallway torment to be status quo. “The best thing you can do right now is just give him his pay for that day, and just reverse the disciplinary actions,” Taylor told the school board. “He did an amazing thing. He did something that’s inspired a lot of people. And whenever—ever—I have a teacher stand up for me like that, they change in my eyes. I support Jay McDowell, and I hope you do too.”

Kids these days. They are amazing.

 

By:           John Rogers
On:           Nov 13, 2010
Tagged: , , , , , , ,
  • 121 Comments
    • Graeme Taylor
      Graeme Taylor

      Hi, this is Graeme from the speech. Thanks! My name is spelled Graeme, by the way. ;)

      Nov 13, 2010 at 3:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cynedd
      Cynedd

      G_dd@mn, how could anyone not want to have a kid like Graeme?!

      Nov 13, 2010 at 3:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • bobito
      bobito

      @Graeme Taylor: WOW! Great speech, Graeme! You rocked my world today. I know Queerty takes a lot of flack from readers for some of their headlines, but they are 100% spot on with this one – you are the awesome.

      Nov 13, 2010 at 3:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michael
      Michael

      Is that really you, Graeme?

      When I was your age (1970), living in a small city in Canada, I would have been KILLED to speak up like that. It thrills me that things have changed so much. Sure, we have a long way to go, but look how far we’ve come.

      I have such hope for the future, with brave and beautiful people like you out front.

      You are AWESOME!

      Nov 13, 2010 at 3:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • bobito
      bobito

      (except for the misspelled first name, I mean, of course – so 99% spot-on)

      Nov 13, 2010 at 3:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Charlie Jackpot
      Charlie Jackpot

      You are a great speaker Graeme – enter politics

      Nov 13, 2010 at 3:28 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Theo
      Theo

      This boy is truly awesome.

      Nov 13, 2010 at 4:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • cenzo
      cenzo

      Graeme, WOW you have made my day !! You´re a star !!
      that was one heck of a speech. In high school I used to
      be in speech class and this is one eloquent speech you
      delivered. I tell ´ya text book. What a punch !
      You speak the truth and it shows. Stay close to it in life
      and you will always have a best friend !! Yourself :)

      best wishes, thank you and take good care of yourself.

      Nov 13, 2010 at 4:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • oldgayvermonter
      oldgayvermonter

      @Graeme Taylor: Outstanding and inspiring “schooling” of the apparently clueless school board! So of course they passed the buck. Please keep us informed about how things are going there and best of everything for your future. “Be all you can be”, dude.

      Nov 13, 2010 at 4:28 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jon B
      Jon B

      What an awesome kid. I bet we’ll see amazing things from him in the future.

      Nov 13, 2010 at 4:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Hotone2me
      Hotone2me

      @Graeme Taylor:

      As a youth counselor for GlBT, I so proud of your courage, spirit, and insight to put a voice and face to what it is like to be a young person that is openly homosexual in the schools today. You have a true gift to inspire the nation. I really hope that when Oprah calls you to be on her show, that you take a moment to feel the splendor of what is truly your destiny.

      You are truly remarkable and as you grow, the greatest aspect of your talents will also grow with you!!

      I am very proud of your words and moved to tears!! I thank your parents or primary caregivers for providing the support for you to be truly yourself!!!

      Amazing!!! Tremendous!!!

      p.s. ” Yes YOU CAN”!!!

      Nov 13, 2010 at 4:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tylertime
      Tylertime

      Kids have always been amazing. It’s not just “these days”. You only know more about it because of the internet.

      Nov 13, 2010 at 4:46 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BigRedLovefromCornell
      BigRedLovefromCornell

      @Graeme Taylor:

      YOU. ROCK. Your courage is awe inspiring. Thank you for standing up. You clearly have a kick-ass future ahead of you. Thank you for doing what I know I didn’t have the courage to do in high school.

      Nov 13, 2010 at 4:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      Very cool, Graeme and classmates. It appears Jay’s students are actually getting an education .. in school, and sound intelligent.

      Nov 13, 2010 at 6:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dallas David
      Dallas David

      That’s a great kid with a great message to take to all those “openly heterosexual” people.

      Nov 13, 2010 at 6:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joe
      Joe

      What a wonderfully strong speech made by a confident young man. He can be proud of his efforts and his speech today, as I am uplifted by hearing it. Kudos also to his parents for helping and supporting him. Many who have a kid come out that young would be trying to convince him that he just doesn’t know yet. So good for them for being supportive, and loving parents.

      I wish I could have spoken out when I was that age.

      Nov 13, 2010 at 6:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jimma
      Jimma

      What has this diatribe about being gay and bullied got to do with a belt buckle. And why do people blow things completely out of proportion…the teacher WAS wrong and violated the student’s 1st ammendment right. I’m a teacher and believe me, we have to pick some wierd battles, but this?

      Nov 13, 2010 at 7:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Evan
      Evan

      Oh my god, Graeme, you brought tears to my eyes. You’re a great speaker and you have an amazing heart and a lot of courage. Thank you.

      Nov 13, 2010 at 7:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ron
      ron

      @Jimma: I’m betting you’re not an English teacher…..

      Nov 13, 2010 at 7:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michael
      Michael [Different person #1 using similar name]

      This kid was a great speaker, but I teacher should not have asked the student to remove a Confederate flag belt. The flag hasn’t achieved the same universal symbolism as say, a Swastika. Because about 33% of the population of the country is from an area where the symbol represents Southern pride, it isn’t seen universally as a symbol of hate or racism. Sure it’s incendiary to many people, but it really is about perception in this case since the flag has many accepted meanings. Hell, it’s on Alabama’s flag.

      Nov 13, 2010 at 7:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ron
      ron

      @Michael: You’re wrong. About everything. And the Confederate flag is not on the state flag of Alabama.

      Nov 13, 2010 at 7:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jimma
      Jimma

      I meant weird battles, like dress codes, eating in class, improper physical(sexual)contact, drug use during school, gang activity, weapons, “prison” fighting…the
      school in this post sounds like a walk in the park!

      Nov 13, 2010 at 7:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jimma
      Jimma

      @ron: LOL..what are you saying, really, Ronnie?

      Nov 13, 2010 at 8:06 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DR
      DR

      @ron:

      You’re right about the Confederate Flag not being part of Alabama’s state flag.

      But it IS on Mississippi’s. And the General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard tv show, and a few other places in pop culture where it doesn’t represent racism.

      It’s that whole free speech thing again.

      Nov 13, 2010 at 8:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Wow
      Wow

      @Graeme Taylor: You…are an angel.

      Nov 13, 2010 at 8:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jimma
      Jimma

      When I was his age, I was also bullied for being a “sissy”. But, unfortunately, back then, we did not have the media opportunities kids have today. We had to suck it up and be strong. I did, and I developed a very unique way of dealing with it…I would tell people that if they didn’t like it, to F**K off. I had to kick some A** once in a while, but it worked for me. I still don’t see what this has to do with a belt buckle.

      Nov 13, 2010 at 8:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • wtf
      wtf

      @Jimma: well since you OBVIOUSLY know nothing about the incident why comment at all? “Suck it up and be strong?” Really? How about envisioning an environment where gay kids aren’t bullied at all? How about that instead? Then maybe you wouldn’t be some machismo schmuck with a chip on your shoulder. Ugh. Some people.

      Nov 13, 2010 at 8:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      @Jimma: “the teacher WAS wrong and violated the student’s 1st ammendment right.”

      Nope, you’re wrong. The class was intentionally disrupted by Mr Belt Buckle and a second student, who objected to Jay’s purple shirt. Jay correctly restored order.

      The SCHOOL had issued orders to remove the confederate flag, on disruptive grounds, because of activities involving a hate group at school. Jay was following school orders by removing such displays.

      Nov 13, 2010 at 8:42 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Wry Bred
      Wry Bred

      Don’t stop, Graeme. Don’t ever stop.

      Nov 14, 2010 at 12:41 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kieran
      Kieran

      Graeme’s only 14 and already he’s smarter than the average adult homophobe. Lol

      Nov 14, 2010 at 1:00 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ian
      Ian

      I’m both an out gay man and a child therapist, I must say VERY good job young man in both defending your teacher and representing yourself. As always the adults can learn much from the younger generation who tell the truth in such complete honesty.

      Nov 14, 2010 at 2:22 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • btonjason
      btonjason

      Amazing Graeme….Simply one of the best speeches I’ve had the pleasure of hearing…You’re a very brave individual and I’m truly impressed by you…. Take care and keep it up :)

      Nov 14, 2010 at 6:52 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Vellis
      Vellis

      Outstanding young man. I am not sure where he got the idea that 6 million gay people are killing themselves annually. But we can cut him some slack on that and applaud him for his courage.

      Nov 14, 2010 at 8:16 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Lefty
      Lefty

      @Ian: Agreed. Bravo, Graeme! Your courage is indeed inspiring. And I’d also like to thank Jay McDowell for standing up for what is right, and inspiring such eloquence and determination in pupils like Graeme.
      If ony more schools had teachers like Jay McDowell and more students like Graeme Taylor I think the world would be a much better place. We’re getting there, but it takes the uncommon bravery of people like this to bring about the change we need. Again, thanks to them both.

      Nov 14, 2010 at 8:50 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BoonesFerry
      BoonesFerry

      @Graeme Taylor:

      Much love for you, young man. Well done.

      Nov 14, 2010 at 9:55 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BoonesFerry
      BoonesFerry

      Amazing young man. Kids these days, in general, seem to be more at ease speaking their minds and are much more articulate than what I remember from when I was only 14.

      I admire these young people for standing up and speaking out.

      Nov 14, 2010 at 9:57 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Some people make no-sense, whatsoever
      Some people make no-sense, whatsoever

      So, let me see if I’m clear on this: Jimma “believes” that gay and bullied children should just “suck it up,” “be strong” or fight back,” because hey, it’s the victims fault for being a victim (he did it, so naturally, it should apply to everyone else and every similar situation). Rather than “believe” it is just too much to ask for bullies to knock their bullying shit off.

      Apparently being a decent human to all is just too difficult to ask of people. Especially bullies.

      Priceless. Truly. Priceless.

      Nov 14, 2010 at 10:01 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BoonesFerry
      BoonesFerry

      Excerpt from another article:
      The letter of reprimand read, “You went on to discipline two students who told you they do not accept gays due to their religion. After a failure of getting one student to recant, you engaged in an unsupported snap suspension, rather than allow the student his beliefs.”

      The letter added, “You also state you routinely do not allow this expression [the Confederate flag] in your classroom because it offends you, and you personally connect this symbol to a list of oppressions and atrocities. You do, however, allow the display of the rainbow flag, to which some of your students have voiced opposition.”

      McDowell responded in his own statement that there are no rainbow flags in his classroom–only the American flag, the newspaper article reported. Moreover, McDowell noted that restrictions on the Confederate flag were not limited to his own classroom: “the district has for the last year asked students to remove Confederate flags that have flown from the back of cars and trucks in the school parking lot,” McDowell’s statement said. “The reprimand states that the wearing of the Confederate flag and the statement, ’I don’t accept gays,’ did not cause a substantial disruption to the educational process and, therefore, I violated the students’ First Amendment rights.

      “I disagree,” the statement from McDowell went on. “I believe any symbol or speech that can cause a student to sit in fear in the classroom whether or not there is an outward show of that fear is by its very nature a disruption to the educational process.” McDowell went on to say that he had abided by school district policies and emphasized that he did not punish the student for his religious beliefs or political opinions, but rather sent him out of the room for disruptive behavior.

      Excerpt from: http://www.edgeboston.com/index.php?ch=news&sc=&sc2=news&sc3=&id=112352

      Nov 14, 2010 at 10:28 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • gollygeegaygoy
      gollygeegaygoy

      Graeme, thank you. You are inspiring, and you give young and older gay people hope for the future. I hope one day you run for President !

      Nov 14, 2010 at 11:31 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • EF
      EF

      Woooow. Respect.

      Nov 14, 2010 at 11:42 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS
      PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS

      @Graeme Taylor: Thanks for showing at 14 you have more common sense,intelligence, courage,and wisdom than your school’s administration……..

      Do us all a huge favor and connect with Will Phillips. You guys would make a great ticket in 2042 :p

      Nov 14, 2010 at 1:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brian Douglas Ahern
      Brian Douglas Ahern

      Graeme, you are every bit as much a hero as your teacher for standing up and doing the right thing. I have not seen such eloquence and strength from someone of your age in a very long time. Well done. Stay strong. Blessings.

      Nov 14, 2010 at 2:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MDA
      MDA

      Graeme, you’re an inspiration, and so is Mr. Jay McDowell.

      Nov 14, 2010 at 2:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • UK Female
      UK Female

      @Charlie Jackpot: I think he will (the first gay President of the USA)

      Nov 14, 2010 at 11:18 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JoeyB
      JoeyB

      This kid has more strength, courage and cojones than all these famous closet-cases that could help our cause and because of their love of money won’t come out. So yeah, who needs Anderson Cooper, Matt Boner, Zac Quinto and so many other when we have TRUE heroes like Graeme. I salute you Graeme. You are a real man at your age.

      Nov 14, 2010 at 11:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • christo
      christo

      @Graeme Taylor: Wish I had your courage/eloquence when I was in school. Growing up in a relatively small northwest-Georgia town(Dalton)in a protestant/christian-centered grouphome run by the Ga. Sheriff’s Association in the ’80’s during the height of the AIDS panic, especially if you were perceived to be the slightest bit “different”, was NOT fun. Whatever you do, come hell or high water, remain true to yourself, your convictions/beliefs, and your friends/family.

      Nov 14, 2010 at 11:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ian
      Ian

      @JoeyB: Truth to power, agree 100%.

      Nov 15, 2010 at 12:38 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chelsea
      Chelsea

      @Tylertime: I beg to differ. Though that may be true, I have rarely encountered teens his age that are as eloquent as he is. I don’t even know many adults my age (18) and older that can present their coherently present their opinions without hesitation. The fluidity of Graeme’s speech is very commendable, and his words were lucid and respectable.

      Nov 15, 2010 at 12:53 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Eric
      Eric

      Well done, Graeme.

      Nov 15, 2010 at 1:02 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Rich
      Rich

      Nice job Graeme! Great big internet hugs to you!

      Nov 15, 2010 at 1:03 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • andrew nicastro
      andrew nicastro

      I suspect we may have just been granted an early preview of our first (openly) gay President.

      Bravo.

      Nov 15, 2010 at 1:07 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • steph
      steph

      what an amazing, inspiring young man. i may have shared is convictions when i was that age, but i am not sure if i would have been so strong as to voice them in the manner in which he did. he is so inspiring and i hope the rest of the world wakes up and becomes more tolerant.

      the teacher is also inspiring, and i hope his punishment is ultimately reversed.

      Nov 15, 2010 at 1:36 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • cam1979
      cam1979

      @Graeme Taylor: You are all over the news and believe me you are making the difference for standing up and have the strength to speak without fear, you gave such a strong speech that bring tears of joy to my eyes… Let me tell you that I live in Puerto Rico so that means your words of wisdom are traveling the world. You are an inspiration not only for the gay community but for all of us and I truly thank you for that. I wish you the best of luck! BRAVO!

      Nov 15, 2010 at 2:04 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michael
      Michael [Different person #2 using similar name]

      Not with you on this one, Graeme. I see no justification to “bend the needle” of the First Amendment to favor anybody over another. You are entitled to voice your opinions about what you see in the Confederate flag, just as others are entitled to voice theirs over the Rainbow flag. Perceptions are what keep us divided, and therein lies the larger problem. Contrary to what you think, the Confederate flag does not have evil origins, and bear in mind, nobody gave the KKK permission to appropriate it for use as their symbol of hate. Likewise, the Gay community holds no special rights, title or interests to the rainbow. A kid that wears a Confederate belt buckle may or may not hold racist beliefs. Another kid that wears a Rainbow buckle may or may not be Gay, or Gay friendly. As you quote Dr. King, your’s is not to judge, and neither can you push the First Amendment to make people behave in a manner to better suit your mood.

      Nov 15, 2010 at 2:15 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Nate
      Nate

      “remove Confederate flag belt buckle (because it represented racism)”

      Omg ignorant much?

      Please go get educated. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confederate_flag#The_Confederate_Flag

      Nov 15, 2010 at 3:32 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • C'mon
      C'mon

      @Michael: Agreed.

      Nov 15, 2010 at 3:46 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      @Michael: “Another kid that wears a Rainbow buckle may or may not be Gay, or Gay friendly”

      That’s right. They may just be like rainbow unicorns.

      Many schools prohibit displays of racially insensitive symbols such as the confederate flag. This is not a new legal issue. Do a search for Tinker + Confederate Flag.

      Nov 15, 2010 at 5:57 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chip
      Chip

      Graeme, that was a great talk; good job! It’s getting you a lot of publicity. So be careful, son; some people watching may not be your friend. It is still a dangerous place for young gay folks. Watch your back; remember Matt Shepherd.

      Nov 15, 2010 at 8:07 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mary
      Mary

      Can someone explain to me why so many people in Michigan,Indiana, Illinois, and dozens of other states that WERE NEVER PART OF THE CONFEDERACY feel the need to express their “confederate pride”?

      Nov 15, 2010 at 8:27 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DavidUK84
      DavidUK84

      Nice little speech, wonder who wrote it for him.

      Listen kid, if you don’t get that free speech is free speech even when you don’t like it, then I’m judging you by the content of your character, and I judge you to be full of it.

      Nov 15, 2010 at 8:46 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS
      PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS

      @DavidUK84: Gee what a suprise!! A David Duke supporter tries to smack down a 14 year old who has bigger balls than the entire administration to come out and take such a brave stand……………

      Based on the Graeme’s poise and confidence when making his speech, there is no doubt they were his words. Something that a supporter of a bigot like you could never pry out of your empty cranium………..

      Nov 15, 2010 at 9:29 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JoeyO'H
      JoeyO'H

      What an amazing young man! Truly an inspiring young man with a bright and incredible future ahead of him.

      Nov 15, 2010 at 9:46 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bryant
      Bryant

      Teachers should not allow gay-bashers to have free reign in the classroom, but how does merely saying, “I don’t accept gays,” cause a problem? Students who don’t like gay people should be able to say so. It doesn’t sound like he made his anti-gay sentiment into a threat.

      And what’s wrong with the Confederate flag? McDowell says, “I believe any symbol or speech that can cause a student to sit in fear in the classroom [...]” — It’s not the student’s fault that his classmates have an irrational “fear” of a Confederate flag.

      Honestly, I dislike the American flag. It has overseen torture, genocidal slaughter, slavery (literal and figurative), mass rape, and other evils. I do not pledge allegiance to the flag, but nor do I cower in fear every time I see an American flag.

      McDowell is forcing his political beliefs on his students, and he should be suspended.

      Nov 15, 2010 at 9:47 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • REBELComx
      REBELComx

      @DavidUK84: And if you don’t get that free speech has limitations (within the US as well as the UK), especially in a public school, than you’re a dumbass. And just because you weren’t able to write so eloquently at the age of 14, that doesn’t mean some of us couldn’t or can’t.

      @Graeme Taylor: Dude, you are friggin awesome. I wish I had had the guts to come out at 14, let alone stand in front of a crowd of people and defend someone who was defending our community. You rock, keep it up.

      @Mary: Yeah, i don’t get it either. My own cousin, born and raised next door to me in North Eastern Pennsylvania got into that too. Like dude… you’re PA Dutch and Irish and like 1/32nd African. You grew up in a middle class, working family. Hunting deer doesn’t make you a southern hillbilly.

      Nov 15, 2010 at 9:51 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Franco
      Franco

      What courage. Bravo.

      Nov 15, 2010 at 11:21 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tom
      Tom

      @Graeme Taylor: Thank you for speaking out! You are eloquent and fiercely courageous. Keep up the faith.

      Nov 15, 2010 at 11:31 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • the crustybastard
      the crustybastard

      @Graeme Taylor:

      Well done, sir.

      Nov 15, 2010 at 11:59 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Max
      Max

      Graeme…You are an incredible spokesperson! Your parents should be commended for a job well done. You were obviously raised right! I am sure we haven’t heard the last of you!

      Nov 15, 2010 at 12:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tim
      Tim

      I’m just astonished and, I suppose, happy when I see 14-year-olds who are out. I had no idea of having ANY sexual orientation when I was that age, though I knew I wasn’t ever going to get married and have children. I guess it’s a sign of a more open world that people can even CONCEIVE of an identity at 14.

      Nov 15, 2010 at 1:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michael
      Michael [Different person #3 using similar name]

      @Kev C: Doesn’t appear you have read the case. In Tinker, the Supreme Court, by a 7-2 vote, invalidated a school policy that resulted in suspensions for three high-schoolers wearing black armbands to protest the war in Vietnam. Tinker was responsible for the famous claim by Justice Abe Fortas that “Public school students do not shed their First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse door.” After Tinker, schools couldn’t ban student expression unless there was some risk of that speech significantly interfering with school discipline.

      Nov 15, 2010 at 1:28 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ben
      Ben

      Seems to me, Graeme, you are judging others based on the content of their clothes. That’s wrong. Where was your father in all this? As a teacher, I would think he would have wanted to say a word or two. With protection from the First Amendment, surely he was not concerned about job security.

      Nov 15, 2010 at 4:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ryan
      Ryan

      I had Graeme’s dad as a teacher in 8th grade… the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!
      What a noble family!

      Nov 15, 2010 at 4:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ben
      Ben

      @Ryan: Hmm…advocating double standards for the First Amendment doesn’t sound noble, but, as long as you get what works best for you, nothing and nobody else really matters.

      Nov 15, 2010 at 5:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Yosharian
      Yosharian

      @Graeme Taylor: Hello Graeme (assuming it’s really you and not an imposter!). I spoke with the President of your school’s Board of Education via email. She says that the media have got this situation ‘out of context’ and that the school have dealt with it appropriately. I quote: “incorrect, out-of-context media spin”.

      Do you agree with that?

      Nov 15, 2010 at 5:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • John
      John

      He’s a very old soul and an awesome teen.

      Nov 15, 2010 at 7:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • einen
      einen

      GRAEME, I LOVE YOU!

      Nov 15, 2010 at 7:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Andrew L. Ayers
      Andrew L. Ayers

      @Graeme Taylor: Keep being awesome – we need more people like you for the future; your work gives me hope for this nation.

      Nov 15, 2010 at 8:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      @Michael: That’s correct. But using the pro-free speech Tinker standard, in case after case going back a decade, most high courts have upheld bannings of the Confederate flag at school. Free speech doesn’t give the right to disrupt.

      Nov 15, 2010 at 8:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • oldgayvermonter
      oldgayvermonter

      Please “Like” the “We support Graeme Taylor” page on Facebook. Anyone have a documented number of suicides per year among gay youth? Obviously the 6 million was a mis-speak.

      Nov 15, 2010 at 9:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • SizeQu33n
      SizeQu33n

      @Bryant: Quote: “Teachers should not allow gay-bashers to have free reign in the classroom, but how does merely saying, “I don’t accept gays,” cause a problem? Students who don’t like gay people should be able to say so. It doesn’t sound like he made his anti-gay sentiment into a threat.

      And what’s wrong with the Confederate flag? McDowell says, “I believe any symbol or speech that can cause a student to sit in fear in the classroom [...]” — It’s not the student’s fault that his classmates have an irrational “fear” of a Confederate flag.

      Honestly, I dislike the American flag. It has overseen torture, genocidal slaughter, slavery (literal and figurative), mass rape, and other evils. I do not pledge allegiance to the flag, but nor do I cower in fear every time I see an American flag.

      McDowell is forcing his political beliefs on his students, and he should be suspended.”

      It’s nice to see that not everyone follows the masses. I totally agree with all your comment. Excellent way to speak up and think outside the box!

      Read more: http://www.queerty.com/graham-taylor-14-is-sticking-up-for-michigan-high-school-teacher-jay-mcdowell-and-he-is-the-awesome-20101113/#ixzz15PKViHU1

      Nov 15, 2010 at 10:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • SizeQu33n
      SizeQu33n

      @Ben: “It’s all about me.”

      Nov 15, 2010 at 10:18 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cherish Sullivan
      Cherish Sullivan

      @Graeme Taylor:
      I respect you so much for this. Your still very young, and to speak like that in front of everybody? It was very moving.
      I’m lucky enough to go a performing arts school, where everybody is very accepting of eachother and there is even a Gay/Straight Alliance.
      I often forget not everybody is as lucky as I am.
      People can be intolerant. People can be close-minded. But conquer them with love. (: Keep fighting on.
      –Your new biggest fan<333
      Cherish S.

      Nov 15, 2010 at 10:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • John (CA)
      John (CA)

      Good grief, tea baggers.

      Swarming over this 14 year old kid – a victim of horrendous bullying no less – like a pack of locusts doesn’t prove that you are “patriotic” and “freedom loving.” It only proves that you are a bunch of spoiled, entitled adult bullies. There is a world of difference between protecting the powerless from harassment and defending the privileges of the powerful. This is a principle that the young man seems to understand. Graeme is not a federal judge or the attorney general for heaven’s sake. He’s making a moral argument in favor of a man he clearly respects and admires. It is unfortunate that much older, supposedly more educated folks cannot comprehend this simple distinction.

      There’s also a difference between censoring speech and condemning disruptive behavior, unequivocally and publicly, in the strongest terms. The best judge of whether it was disruptive are the other students. What happened in that classroom? What was the context? Did the Christian principal bother to ask them what they thought before handing down his little punishment?

      Nov 16, 2010 at 12:51 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      @SizeQu33n: @Bryant:
      2 racist, homophobic bullies disrupt a classroom, cause a scene, make trouble for everyone, and yet some idiots want to defend their actions? I applaud Jay McDowell for taking a stand, taking control of HIS classroom and kicking the stupid punks out.

      It’s an ECONOMICS CLASS. These 2 dumb guys won’t get a JOB wearing a friggin Confederate belt buckle and acting like stupid, disruptive punks!

      Nov 16, 2010 at 1:15 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ben
      Ben

      @Kev C: As you well know, the scene wasn’t remotely close to your depiction. Regardless, why not check the rainbow flags and Confederate flags at the door, and study economics.

      Nov 16, 2010 at 1:45 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ben
      Ben

      @John (CA): Graeme is not powerless. He has the same First Amendment rights as everybody else. He exercised this right in front of the entire town, just as anybody else was and is free to do.

      Nov 16, 2010 at 1:54 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ewe
      ewe

      @Graeme Taylor: You are a gem, a star, a champion.

      Nov 16, 2010 at 1:59 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BoonesFerry
      BoonesFerry

      Excerpt from another article:

      The letter of reprimand read, “You went on to discipline two students who told you they do not accept gays due to their religion. After a failure of getting one student to recant, you engaged in an unsupported snap suspension, rather than allow the student his beliefs.”

      The letter added, “You also state you routinely do not allow this expression [the Confederate flag] in your classroom because it offends you, and you personally connect this symbol to a list of oppressions and atrocities. You do, however, allow the display of the rainbow flag, to which some of your students have voiced opposition.”

      McDowell responded in his own statement that there are no rainbow flags in his classroom–only the American flag, the newspaper article reported. Moreover, McDowell noted that restrictions on the Confederate flag were not limited to his own classroom: “the district has for the last year asked students to remove Confederate flags that have flown from the back of cars and trucks in the school parking lot,” McDowell’s statement said. “The reprimand states that the wearing of the Confederate flag and the statement, ’I don’t accept gays,’ did not cause a substantial disruption to the educational process and, therefore, I violated the students’ First Amendment rights.

      “I disagree,” the statement from McDowell went on. “I believe any symbol or speech that can cause a student to sit in fear in the classroom whether or not there is an outward show of that fear is by its very nature a disruption to the educational process.” McDowell went on to say that he had abided by school district policies and emphasized that he did not punish the student for his religious beliefs or political opinions, but rather sent him out of the room for disruptive behavior.

      http://www.edgeboston.com/index.php?ch=news&sc=&sc2=news&sc3=&id=11235

      Nov 16, 2010 at 4:23 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      @Ben: The Rainbow flag is not the Confederate flag, the Nazi Swastika or KKK Cross. So pick a better analogy. Gays never oppressed entire races of people while waving rainbow flags. Goofball.

      Nov 16, 2010 at 6:55 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BartmanLA
      BartmanLA

      Graeme Taylor is a hero, not because he stood up for a teacher he didn’t even know, but he is one because he saw that as a gay teenager, he was compelled come forward, speak from very personal experiences and admit his support for someone that was trying to make the classroom a bit less judgmental and threatening. Jay McDowell isn’t even Graeme’s teacher, yet he made the decision to remove what he felt was a disruption to the remainder of the students in his classroom. Graeme Taylor went from Ann Arbor to Howell to stand before the school district board and say what he did about Jay McDowell because he felt that attempting to make any classroom free from hostility, bigotry, homophobia and less threatening was something he had to speak out about based on his life experiences to date. In addition, Graeme spoke from his own personal emotions, and how someone like Jay McDowell can not only be a teacher of education but one of honor and dedication, but someone that he felt was worthy of praise for giving his students a learning environment that any student can feel safe and not threatened or judged.

      Nov 16, 2010 at 10:35 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Nick J
      Nick J

      @Michael:
      Um, Michael. You didn’t read this case, did you? Graeme’s speech wasn’t about a belt buckle and the whole incident with Jay McDowell’s suspension wasn’t about a belt buckle.

      Go back and research this before you speak.

      Cheers.

      Nov 16, 2010 at 3:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Casey
      Casey

      @Jimma: You are a teacher and your advice to students being bullied is suck it up! I have an idea…find a new job because there are too many teachers like you as it is. We don’t need you. Your life means nothing!

      Nov 16, 2010 at 4:28 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ThatRandomGuy
      ThatRandomGuy

      @Graeme Taylor: First, I would like to say that you, sir, are quite the talented orator. Second, as a fellow gay teen, I would like to say: You Fucking Rock! =]

      Nov 16, 2010 at 6:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jan, Leiden, Netherlands
      Jan, Leiden, Netherlands

      @Greame Taylor: very impressive speech! With some shocking facts in it, but people like you make our future acceptable! Great!

      @Queerty, thank you for sharing this!

      Nov 16, 2010 at 8:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • alan brickman
      alan brickman

      What a brave little toaster!! Awesome!!

      Nov 16, 2010 at 9:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Razi
      Razi

      @Michael:

      I don’t think the needle he is talking about here is not the needle of granting free speech to the gay community whilst taking it away from racist homophobic idiots… I think the needle being talked about here is a change in the environment. We still live in a world where kids who are even perceived as being gay are picked on and bullied.

      Do you understand that the word “fag” that Mr Beltbuckle used is offensive to gay people? There is no place for that sort of talk in the classroom.

      Not to mention; I don’t think that students actually have the right to free speech in the classroom. Talking out of turn, talking back to the teacher and being generally insubordinate is a punishable offense. Students must adhere to a dress code. It isn’t like being on the street where a person can express themselves with anything short of obscenity which is not protected.

      I commend this teacher and I hope he gets a pay raise.

      I also admire this young man for standing up and defending him.

      Nov 16, 2010 at 10:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mlaiuppa
      mlaiuppa

      That’s BS because boards micromanage all of the time. They control the pay and the teacher’s record. It is the board’s authority that reverses the reprimand and restores the pay. And boards reverse the decisions of principals and even superintendents all of the time. Because that is the purpose of the board of education. They are the ultimate boss. The principals report to the superintendent and the superintendent reports to the board. The buck stops at the board.

      This board needs to be voted out asap at the next election.

      Nov 16, 2010 at 10:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • charles
      charles

      I have great respect for you Mr Graeme..
      Regards from The Netherlands
      Charles

      Nov 17, 2010 at 7:55 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth

      @Graeme Taylor: Wow, what an amazing kid. I don’t know anyone his age who talks like that. Just WOW.

      Nov 17, 2010 at 8:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Luke Olaf
      Luke Olaf

      @Graeme Taylor:
      I want to know this kid. I’m also 14, and seeing this video is so inspirational and so…comforting, i guess. So, thank you Graeme. That’s all I can say.

      Nov 17, 2010 at 11:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Shane
      Shane

      I have absolutely nothing against gay people, NPH is one of my idols, but McDowell should have been reprimanded for what he did. That kid wasn’t singling anybody out when he said he didn’t believe in gay marriage or rights or whatever. The Bill of Rights are there for a reason, and you can’t change something that high up just because it hurt your feelings. Whether you like what people have to say or not, they can’t get ostracized or in trouble because of it; unless of course it’s a personal attack with malicious intent.

      Nov 18, 2010 at 12:42 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mystique
      Mystique

      @Graeme Taylor: Wow. You, sir, are going places. You are an amazing individual and I applaud your bravery and intelligence at such a young age. Standing ovation from me!

      Nov 18, 2010 at 1:45 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Rob
      Rob

      So….the point the school board member is trying to make is that they don’t do anythingh….huh….seems about right. Way to pass the responsibility to someone else.

      Nov 18, 2010 at 11:50 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Razi
      Razi

      @Shane:

      You didn’t read what Mr Belt-buckle said… This was about purple shirt day… Purple shirt day was about anti-bullying, and to mourn those homosexual teens who have been bullied to the point of committing suicide. He flashed his belt saying “I DON’T SUPPORT FAGS”. That is a far cry from saying “I don’t support gay marriage” or “I don’t support people being gay”. What he said was intentionally offensive. It was more of the same bully rhetoric disrupts the educational environment and makes life hell for a great many of our kids.

      McDowell should be COMMENDED.

      Nov 19, 2010 at 12:34 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • euryka@hotmail.com
      euryka@hotmail.com

      @Graeme Taylor:
      hi Graeme
      you are one remarkable young man if every one in this world was like you the world would be a much better place
      reach for the stars my friend
      take care
      my friend
      your in my heart always
      gary h

      Nov 19, 2010 at 3:12 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Billy
      Billy

      send me a message I would love to discuss this topic in an adult conversation, I assure you that you have my respect as a human being. I am just baffled by your competance and confidence. Billy Davis is my facebook page…hope to hear from you soon, Billy

      Nov 20, 2010 at 8:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mary Glover
      Mary Glover

      @Graeme Taylor: thanks Graeme you are a remarkable young man. I had an uncle who was gay and of course pretty much shunned by family. He died of aids and we weren’t notified for 3 months-he was such a good person and I mourn his loss. Change takes a lot of time and your generation will see a lot of changes-hopefully.
      I am 63 and very liberal much to the distain of many family members.

      I look forward to hearing about you in the future.
      Good luck.

      Nov 22, 2010 at 12:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cayla!:)
      Cayla!:)

      Omg Graeme! You are absolutley an inspiration! I just watched you on “Ellen!” & my gosh aren’t you wonderful! I’m soooooo glad that you choose to stand up and say what you believed in! I am completley amazed by your speech….Why gosh you would make one heck of a politician….(i would vote for you)! Keep your head held high and don’t let anyone….no one…..bring you down. Because remember you are stronger then them in a way…you have the gutz to stand up for someone! You are my HERO! All that I can really say is….WOW!WOW!WOW!WOW! This speech is wonderful….& to think NO notecards. “The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public”! You are a remarkable young man….i’m sure you made history with that speech!

      (p.s)wonderful, tremendous, outstanding, wonderful, strong….this describes you!?

      ~Cayla!

      Nov 22, 2010 at 9:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cayla!:)
      Cayla!:)

      Omg Graeme! You are absolutley an inspiration! I just watched you on “Ellen!” & my gosh aren’t you wonderful! I’m soooooo glad that you choose to stand up and say what you believed in! I am completley amazed by your speech….Why gosh you would make one heck of a politician….(i would vote for you)! Keep your head held high and don’t let anyone….no one…..bring you down. Because remember you are stronger then them in a way…you have the gutz to stand up for someone! You are my HERO! All that I can really say is….WOW!WOW!WOW!WOW! This speech is wonderful….& to think NO notecards. “The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public”! You are a remarkable young man….i’m sure you made history with that speech!

      (p.s)wonderful, tremendous, outstanding, wonderful, strong….this describes you!?

      ~Cayla!

      Nov 22, 2010 at 9:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cayla!:)
      Cayla!:)

      Omg Graeme! You are absolutley an inspiration! I just watched you on “Ellen!” & my gosh aren’t you wonderful! I’m soooooo glad that you choose to stand up and say what you believed in! I am completley amazed by your speech….Why gosh you would make one heck of a politician….(i would vote for you)! Keep your head held high and don’t let anyone….no one…..bring you down. Because remember you are stronger then them in a way…you have the gutz to stand up for someone! You are my HERO! All that I can really say is….WOW!WOW!WOW!WOW! This speech is wonderful….& to think NO notecards. “The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public”! You are a remarkable young man….i’m sure you made history with that speech!

      (p.s)wonderful, tremendous, outstanding, wonderful, strong….this describes you!?

      ~Cayla!

      Nov 22, 2010 at 9:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Scotty708
      Scotty708

      Good for you Graeme!
      Amazing words from someone so young gives me hope for the
      future. You are an inspiration for both young gays and old.
      Keep it up shorty..

      sincerely
      Scotty [=

      Nov 28, 2010 at 4:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • declanto
      declanto

      #59 @Mary: These states had a massive workforce immigration from the south before, during and after WWII. They brought their histories and religions with them to work in the factories. Hate is a learned behaviour, taught at home.

      Dec 5, 2010 at 11:02 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Paige
      Paige

      Howell has an AWFUL rep.

      A girl committed suicide this weekend because she was bullied.

      Feb 28, 2011 at 4:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Andrew
      Andrew

      Graeme Taylor = absolute raw, pure, 100% courage. People tend to equate courage with saluting the flag, grabbing a gun and rushing off to some foreign country, but as far as I can see, what Graeme has done takes ten times more of the pure stuff. You can be way braver simply by having the guts to do the right thing right in your own home.
      Way to go Graeme – and ditto Jay McDowell!

      Apr 11, 2011 at 1:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Charles
      Charles

      @Andrew: You’re absolutely right Sir! Regards from The Netherlands.

      Apr 11, 2011 at 1:28 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Nathan
      Nathan

      The confederate flag is a symbol of nothing but racism and treason. It’s the same as a Nazi flag or the Imperial Japanese Flag. If you’re ancestors fought under that flag that’s nothing to be proud of, they were either oppressors or ignorant peasants fighting a war for the rights of oppressors to own slaves.

      Apr 11, 2011 at 1:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Alli
      Alli

      OMG Graeme! You are my inspiration! And I hate bullies! They are just so mean and who cares if domaines gay or a different color skin! I don’t really care! And I have like 5 or 6 friends that are gay and are different then me! I almost cried when I herd about this! And just wondering (not trying to be Nosie) have they stoped the bulling? Please wright back

      Love your number one friend/fan,
      Alli

      Jul 12, 2011 at 4:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Alli
      Alli

      OMG! I mean Someone!! Sorry

      Jul 13, 2011 at 10:52 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hyperhowie
      hyperhowie

      @ron: Although I came here on this site to also cheer on the young man, Graeme [Graham] Taylor, I do have to point out an inaccuracy. The Confederate Battle Flag is NOT a sign of racism, but of Southern Pride. Unfortunately, there are those (KKK, e.g.) who have waved that as “their” symbol of racial pride (or whatever.) That doesn’t make that right (just as waving a US Flag for a bad cause right neither.) So I FULLY SUPPORT young Mr. Taylor…but I also support that young student who wanted to wear a historically accurate representation of US Confederate history (I know of one teacher who wore the OFFICIAL Confederate flag — google it — and no one EVER caught on. Folks don’t realize that the battle flag was a change as with the haze of battle with canon and musket fire, the smoke made both the rebel and US flag appear the saem. So they CHANGED the B-A-T-T-L-E flag ONLY.) If the teacher had been excellent, he would’ve taken the time to explain history and those who use history to distort both facts and to use it for ill. And he would’ve also spoken boldly (as he did) against homophobic comments/slurs.

      Dec 14, 2011 at 3:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • HyperHowie
      HyperHowie

      @Nathan: You, unfortunately, have the same knee-jerk reaction that homophobes do when they hear/see gay symbols or comments. You have no clue about US history. The confederate flag — in this case, we’re talking only about the BATTLE flag (since that’s the only one that most ppl recognize, although the Offical Confederate flag is completely different) is a symbol of those Americans who fought for their STATE (read Gen. Lee’s comments.) Many disagreed with breaking from the union, but in a day and age when most folks didn’t go much further than the local church on Sunday (unless they were wealthy enough to own a horse and buggy), one’s neighbors/friends were what was important. Furthermore, it’s NOT the same as the Nazi or Japanese flag — though that’s not a bad analogy since the Japanese flag is flown TO THIS DAY — as these were AMERICANS who disagreed with the direction the country was going. The majority (76% were NOT slave owners (we won’t talk about the blacks who owned slaves.) The point is: you’re just as guilty as the students who jumped on young Mr. Taylor: You make assumptions based on old stereotypes. Read a bit of history — it’ll do your soul good.

      Dec 14, 2011 at 4:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dylan
      Dylan

      Graeme iam gay and my parents didnt agree whith it untell thay wached what you said to the sc hool bord. So you gave me my love life back so thank you so much

      Apr 30, 2012 at 6:16 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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