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Outdated homophobia aside, this is just crap writing: What if you’re not a practicing Christian by this person’s standards?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the holy hell that would’ve been raised if someone wrote an op-ed in the Hawk Post attacking such Christian values as outdated and hypocritical?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
Todd Carlson, Superintendent of Schools
firstname.lastname@example.org, 715-526-3194 ext. 8008
Photos: Fox, Shawano Community High School, Michael McNelly