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High-School Paper In WI Blasts Gay Parenting As “An Abomination”

Y’know that “Don’t Say Gay” bill might not be such a bad idea after all.

An editorial ran in a Wisconsin high-school newspaper recently that called gay families an “abomination” and a sin punishable by death.

As USA Today reports, the piece ran in the Shawano High School Hawk Post as part of an opinion package about gay families.

In part, the piece read:

If one is a practicing Christian, Jesus states in the Bible that homosexuality is (a) detestable act and sin which makes adopting wrong for homosexuals because you would be raising the child in a sin-filled environment.

A child adopted into homosexuality will get confused because everyone else will have two different-gendered parents that can give them the correct amount of motherly nurturing and fatherly structure. In a Christian society, allowing homosexual couples to adopt is an abomination.

Outdated homophobia aside, this is just crap writing: What if you’re not  a practicing Christian by this person’s standards? Who says fathers give structure and mothers nurture? And the vocabulary and syntax read like something spit out by a seventh-grader getting a C in Language Arts, not prized prose you run in the school paper.

But even if this article were well-crafted, it’s incendiary and hurtful. What was the point of it—to spark debate? Even in high school we knew there’s no debating faith. And can you imagine the holy hell that would’ve been raised if someone wrote an op-ed in the Hawk Post attacking such Christian values as outdated and hypocritical?

What’s worse is there are kids at this very school with gay parents—Nick Uttecht and his husband, Michael McNelly (at left), for example. are the fathers of an eighth-grader at Shawano.

“This is why kids commit suicide,” Uttecht said. He rightly complained the language in the story was hateful and could incite violence against LGBT students.  “I’m worried about how this is going to affect my kids. And I’m worried how gay students in school will be treated.” Uttecht says he knows of at least three openly gay families in the district.

Shawano County Superintendent Todd Carlson said he was “shocked” by opinion piece:

The Shawano School District would like to apologize for a recent article printed in the Hawks Post newspaper. Proper judgment that reflects school district policies needs to be exercised with articles printed in our school newspaper. Offensive articles cultivating a negative environment of disrespect are not appropriate or condoned by the Shawano School District. We sincerely apologize to anyone we may have offended and are taking steps to prevent items of this nature from happening in the future.

This isn’t a slapdash Facebook update or Twitter post: It takes weeks for an article like that to go from some kid’s computer to the printed page, presumably with classmates, advisors and others seeing it along the way. Either this was an epic fail on a grand scale or the gatekeepers wanted this opinion to see print. (It should be noted there was an opposing column saying sexual orientation isn’t a factor in the ability to raise kids.)

While we’re glad USA Today brought this story to light, the paper gets it wrong by positing this as some kind of Freedom of Speech issue.

David Hudson of the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group First Amendment Center said the column may be distasteful to some, but the student journalists were practicing their constitutional right to free speech.

“I hope they won’t squash any political viewpoints because of this,” he said.

“Bullying is a serious concern, and I don’t take it lightly. But I hope it doesn’t lead to squashing different viewpoints. I do think (gay adoption) is an issue people are deeply divided about. Hopefully, student journalists don’t have to fear they’ll be squashed if they take a controversial view.”

Schoolchildren don’t have the same constitutional rights as adults: They can’t wear whatever they like, they can’t call the principal an ignorant, ugly ass, and they can’t use school property and funds to promote whatever opinion they want.

Time and time again, the mainstream media posits clear-cut stories affecting the LGBT community as controversies because that’s what they think sells newspapers. And maybe they’re right.

But if a student wrote an op-ed saying Jews were going to Hell or that all Muslims were terrorists, do you think the paper would call it “controversial”?

If you want to give school administrators a piece of your mind, here’s some relevant contact information:

Shawano Community High School
Scott Zwirschitz, Principal
220 County Road B, Shawano, WI 54166
zwirscs@ssd.k12.wi.us, 715-526-2175

Todd Carlson, Superintendent of Schools
carlsot@ssd.k12.wi.us
, 715-526-3194 ext. 8008

Photos: Fox, Shawano Community High School, Michael McNelly

 

By:           Dan Avery
On:           Jan 16, 2012
Tagged: , , ,

  • 29 Comments
    • Mike in Asheville
      Mike in Asheville

      Well, if this is supposedly a student paper with student writers and editors, who is to blame for such shoddy journalism? The student writers, the student editors, or the faculty adviser?

      Pretty shoddy stuff considering the editorial states, quite unequivocally, “…Jesus states in the Bible that homosexuality is (a) detestable act and sin which makes adopting wrong for homosexuals because you would be raising the child in a sin-filled environment.”

      Where, pray tell, exactly does Jesus state ANYTHING about homosexuality, where in the Bible does Jesus use the word “detestable”, where does Jesus say anything about same-sex adoptions?

      Jan 16, 2012 at 2:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • soakman
      soakman

      This is definitely outrageous in a high-school newspaper. But honestly, as far as the writing goes, it is not poor for the grade level. It’s not amazing, but it’s succinct and to the point.

      I’ve seen worse journalism on Queerty. Having been on a high-school newspaper staff, I know that it doesn’t always take weeks and weeks to go to print. And often, journalism teachers attempt to broaden the perspective of their students by adapting to other points of view.

      What is outrageous is that an article with this much bias and intentionally disruptive content would make it by the faculty adviser. He or she needs to be questioned about the content, whether they read the article or talked to the class about it, what was said on the subject, and why or why not it was put to print.

      This actually has a LOT of educational value if digested and analyzed properly by the faculty adviser. Without making the writer feel like a social outcast, there is a lot of room here to talk about journalistic standards and responsibilities.

      I wonder what section the story was placed under? If it’s an op-ed piece, there’s really nothing wrong here. The responsible thing would have been to have another student research a counter point and present both simultaneously or none at all.

      Jan 16, 2012 at 2:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      QUEERTY: “Schoolchildren don’t have the same constitutional rights as adults: They can’t wear whatever they like, they can’t call the principal an ignorant, ugly ass, and they can’t use school property and funds to promote whatever opinion they want.”

      Students can’t learn if you tell them they must never, ever make a mistake. These kids certainly did. They got the theology wrong, confusing a sentence or two from Leviticus, which contains a list of tribal taboos, or maybe some ramblings written by Paul (who used some made-up words, so nobody knows what he really meant), with what Jesus allegedly said.
      They didn’t understand how people would react to ignorant/hateful comments based on faulty theology, nor did they have a clue as to sort of reader reaction they’ll get.

      This is not a federal case. All these kids need is some feedback from their readers telling them how stupid they were.

      I’m really surprised, though, that QUEERTY would write, “It takes weeks for an article like that to go from some kid’s computer to the printed page, presumably with classmates, advisors and others seeing it along the way.” It takes hardly any time at all to go from a computer to the printed page – just look at some of QUEERTY’s hastily written articles for an example.

      Jan 16, 2012 at 2:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chad
      Chad

      Screw the syntax, this paper doesn’t even get the facts right cause JESUS NEVER SAID THOSE THINGS!!!!!!!
      Take this paper to task on the facts alone!!! Harping on syntax and offensiveness is just a bonus.

      Jan 16, 2012 at 2:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • soakman
      soakman

      Once again, OP ED Chad. Stands for Opinion/Editorial. Just because it’s not fact, doesn’t mean it can’t be printed.

      Look at the Onion. Or any letter to the editor/editorial page.

      Jan 16, 2012 at 3:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Arek
      Arek

      It’s a slow news day when you start picking up stories from high school newspapers…

      News at 11: The cranky old man down the street mumbled something homophobic under his breath!!

      Jan 16, 2012 at 3:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kyle
      Kyle

      As a teacher, I fully support the rights of student journalism. Though the article may be illogical, immature, and distasteful, I will always support my students’ rights to form, discuss, and publish their opinions, no matter how wrong they may be. Why? Because the student journalist who wrote this will inevitably learn from this, and who knows, may even begin to see things a little differently.

      Jan 16, 2012 at 3:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • soakman
      soakman

      @Kyle

      Depends on how his peers react. He probably won’t give a hoot what adults say so long as he doesn’t get busted for something. And if he does, it’ll probably just reinforce his stand.

      Jan 16, 2012 at 3:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mike in Asheville
      Mike in Asheville

      @Kyle:Defending freedom of speech and freedom of the press are perfectly wonderful things to defend. However, as a teacher yourself, how can you defend to a poorly written, poorly argued, and, most importantly, poorly researched bit of journalism? Sure, all of schooling, by definition, is a learning experience, and, usually, students learn how to do thing better from their mistakes. Alas, in this case, neither the posting, the linked article, nor the responses from the school administrators, mention the many blatant journalism errors…. No wonder our schools are so fucked up.

      Jan 16, 2012 at 4:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • David Aventura
      David Aventura

      Regardless of their opinions, the student writers have a right to express them. I accept all families. However, it is their “preference” not to do the same. I don’t care for their preference, but I can’t make them change.

      Jan 16, 2012 at 5:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Shannon1981
      Shannon1981

      The thing is, this is a school. The job of the school and any entity that represents it, including the school newspaper, is to first and foremost educate. This isn’t a general newspaper or online opinion column. Printing something like this in a school paper is tantamount to the school and the paper’s faculty advisers endorsing these bigoted opinions. Furthermore, the school is an arm of the government. The government cannot express opinions respecting one religion over all others. There is just far too much wrong with this, nevermind that it is inciting hate against LGBT students and students with LGBT parents, which is already such a huge problem in our school systems right now.

      Yes, these students have a right to hold these opinions. They do not, however, have the right to use the school paper to promote hatred against an already targeted group of students and their families on the basis of religious belief.

      Jan 16, 2012 at 6:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mike UK
      Mike UK

      Am I right in thinking that religion is not taught in US public schools, if this is so why was this obviously religious bigoted article allowed to be printed in the public school paper?

      Jan 16, 2012 at 6:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      1. The author said “Right on Pickles!! I am they’re together or back together. I find that people who criticize these relationships are typically envious of one or both parties involved in the relationship or are a victim of their own insecurities.

      Jesus never said that. No quotes attributed to Jesus ever mentions homosexuality.

      2. These kids are of an age, when most of them have probably never even had sex (Especially likely if they are writing for the school paper) and barely know which end to use if they were, yet they are writing about families etc… things that they have no experience in and are having to rely not on any empirical evidence, but solely on the Bible. I”m curious, was this article labeled a “Religious” article? Because if it was, and the only reasoning the author has for his conclusions is the Bible, then the Journalism teacher is really not doing their students any favors by letting this one go through.

      Jan 16, 2012 at 6:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Patsy Stoned
      Patsy Stoned

      This was probably ghost-written by Maggie Gallagher.

      Jan 16, 2012 at 7:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 12 · Mike UK wrote, “Am I right in thinking that religion is not taught in US public schools, if this is so why was this obviously religious bigoted article allowed to be printed in the public school paper?”

      School papers in the U.S. are extracurricula activities in which the students learn how to put a newsletter or newspaper together. Most of what is in these things is rather vapid – things like, “Little Johnie had the best Halloween costume this year.” The school claims it is reviewing its procedures to avoid a repeat, but most likely the article just slipped through the cracks, with nobody noticing until it was too late.

      Jan 16, 2012 at 7:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • just sayin
      just sayin

      @soakman:

      Actually, the piece was written by a female student.

      Jan 16, 2012 at 7:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dean
      Dean

      Having been raised near Shawano, Wi I am not at all surprised.

      Jan 16, 2012 at 7:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DavyJones
      DavyJones

      @Mike in Asheville: The response to this Op Ed should have been another student writing an op piece which directly counters everything said. Whether printed in the paper or not; there are obviously already students at the school who hold these opinions (someone wrote the article). So the fact that this has been put out there should be used as a spring board for trying to reach out and change those opinions.

      As Dan Avery points out, you can’t “argue with religion” per se; but you can change how people view their religion. Especially during high school, when so many students are still breaking away from their parent’s views and forming their own opinions on the subject.

      If I was a gay student as the school, or a gay parent of a child there; I would certainly be offended that this was printed, but it can hardly be surprising to them. I’m sure they know people at the school hold these values. So why not try to reach out and change them, rather than simply say no one should ever talk about it. As if not talking about something ever changed anyone’s mind.

      Jan 16, 2012 at 9:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chad
      Chad

      @soakman:
      I didn’t say it couldn’t be printed. What I did say was that if ur going to take issue with it, start with the facts ( or lack there of). U have a better chance of crumbling the foundation it tries to be built on.

      Jan 16, 2012 at 10:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • soakman
      soakman

      @Chad

      I agree with that sentiment, however, it seems as if nobody attempted to have a counter article or response posted. That is not at all the fault of the young girl who wrote the piece. It is a fault of the rest of the staff (if they even had access to the piece), but most responsible is the faculty adviser for not trying to find a student to counter point.

      Regardless of whether or not the original article was researched (poorly or otherwise, if it was an Op Ed then the responsibility relies on the community to deal with the resulting fallout. Punishing the student or the paper is BS. Journalism is meant to incite conversation and debate and (when not in the Op Ed section) information.

      Jan 16, 2012 at 10:54 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Andy
      Andy

      Seriously? You’re attacking the amateur editorials of 17 year olds? Seriously? How velvet maffia.

      Jan 16, 2012 at 10:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      Re No 2: “What is outrageous is that an article with this much bias and intentionally disruptive content would make it by the faculty adviser.”

      The faculty advisor was probably swamped grading homework. I knew one person who had a master’s degree in chemistry and ended up (due to an economic downturn or other circumstances) teaching a high school class. He ended up spending a lot of evenings and weekend evenings grading homework. If that is typical, it isn’t surprising that something got by a faculty advisor due to the advisor being overworked.

      Jan 17, 2012 at 12:17 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • TASTEY GOODIES
      TASTEY GOODIES

      @Mike UK: Yes, there IS supposed 2 b separation of church and state. One can’t pray in public schools nor try 2 “preach” or convert fellow students. Just the very act of publishing a religious and very riteous “opinion” is crossing those very lines of separation.

      Jan 17, 2012 at 12:59 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • TASTEY GOODIES
      TASTEY GOODIES

      The article states that a child raised in a homosexual environment would get confused. Well, I beg 2 differ on that point. I was raised in an Assembly of God household and I STILL turned out queer. NO, I did’t get confused (by heteosexuality)! I just evolved into the VERY wonderful and VERY unique rainbow person I am today.

      Jan 17, 2012 at 1:09 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Max
      Max

      The article above clearly states that this piece was part of a point/counterpoint. I don’t think it is irresponsible to publish an opinion, however distasteful we find it, when it is in the presence of a competing opinion, nor does its publication imply the endorsement of the school administration. I don’t think this opinion is particularly rare (it’s not like we didn’t all know that a number of people believe it). I edited my high school and college newspapers, and I frequently used point/counterpoints. Perhaps the opinion piece’s author could have mollified their view, but I don’t think this article merits this degree of backlash against the newspaper.

      Jan 17, 2012 at 2:45 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daez
      Daez

      @TASTEY GOODIES: Actually, one can pray in public schools as long as the prayer is led by a student or a student organization rather than a member of faculty. Religion is allowed in public schools it just can’t be endorsed in public schools. Because these were the religious view points of a student they are 100% acceptable and in no way violate separation of church and state.

      Jan 17, 2012 at 10:48 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JR
      JR

      @Daez: They are religious view points of a student. However school newspapers are generally endorsed by the school. My high school’s newspaper is an actual class period during the day as well as an out of school commitment, and is fully endorsed by the school. While the situation is surely different at Shawano, most schools support their newspaper through resources, which implies a quasi-endorsement.

      On another note, the support for the opinion seems almost nonexistent. If, perhaps, the article was supported by a study that found children raised by homosexual couples are more often emotionally unstable (as an example), it would be much less offensive than saying “children WILL get confused” and backing it up with more opinions and suppositions.

      I personally distinguish between a well supported opinion that, while potentially offensive, is supported by more concrete evidence, and an opinion that is based solely on personal bias and religious interpretation of a book that may or may not be fictional.

      All in all, I think this article should not have been published because it made unfounded claims based on the writers opinion. Yes, this is an opinion article, but no, a writer cannot make unfounded claims out to be fact without, evidence, even in an opinion article.

      Jan 19, 2012 at 12:03 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Louis Newton
      Louis Newton

      As a gay man, I loathe the sentiments expressed and as a sometime theological student I abhor the position (not to mention the incorrect statements) expressed by the student. HOWEVER, this is indeed a matter of free speech. I detest the opinions expressed here but we must not deprive people – no matter how badly raised and ill-informed they may be – of the right to be wrong.

      Also, disagreement is not synonymous with bullying which, in all cases, should be treated as a hate crime as appropriate in the situation. If we wrongly suppress dissent we will not change hearts and minds but only drive ignorance deeper within, where it will surely gain power in proportion to the suppressive force used against it. Yes, gay people have been wronged, cruelly wronged; but I hope we’ll be strong enough not, in our turn, to mirror the very hard-heartedness used against us. The laws governing our equality and treatment must change, but we must not deny the right to disagree with us, so long as the disagreement be respectful and non-violent.

      Jan 19, 2012 at 1:17 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mc
      mc

      soakman,
      This piece was an op-ed, where students wrote on both sides of the issue. It doesn’t seem like queerty.com wants anyone with a different opinion to be heard. Can we say ‘intolerance’?

      Jan 26, 2012 at 3:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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