Not yet a safe space

Sara Yang

Despite stirrings of a LGBT-friendly movement, students need to step up to affect change

We learned the Golden Rule in grade school: “Treat others as you want to be treated.” If the lack of respect for our LGBT community is any indication, we have forgotten this elementary lesson. Editorial cartoon by Sara Yang.In the past couple months, our school has taken small steps to address the lack of regard for our LGBT community. Classrooms have become “safe spaces,” teachers have broached the topic in classrooms, and thesaurus-like posters remind us to think before we speak. For a small chunk of time in early February, it seemed that our school was about to engage in a movement to change our culture.

Yet, despite the efforts of students, teachers, and administrators across campus, a progress report would show little improvement. And that is a problem.

The environment of the school—whether friendly or not—is perpetuated by student behavior. Change cannot be left up to the teachers and administrators. Yet for some reason, they have been the main forces pushing for progress.

Herein lies the crux of the issue. The smalls ripples of change have failed to make a splash because they were part of a movement carried by the teachers.

In-class discussions facilitated by teachers like biology teacher Renee Fallon and Spanish teacher Joyce Fortune proved effective—until the effects faded within a week. So perhaps students need a collective shock in order to snap out of it. Perhaps a school-wide discussion confronting the issue  would redirect our school on a more effective path to improvement.

Then again, who is to say that the effects of something even as widespread as a school discussion would not simply fade out… again?

Today, it is not uncommon to hear complaints about that annoyingly difficult math test—and how it was so “gay.” It is not uncommon to see students pretending to be gay for laughs, or deeming their sharply-dressed comrade as the “gay best friend.”

But if a white person adopted a Indian accent and joked about turbans and curry, how would an Indian person feel? If a student complained, “That’s so Jewish!” or “That’s so Muslim!”—would that be acceptable?

Probably not. And a majority at our school probably recognizes that.

It boils down to an issue of respect. That poster telling you to stop saying “That’s so gay!” is not a crusade against the simple misuse of a word. Simply altering your vocabulary isn’t going to fix the problem; the solution lies in recognizing why you, as students, should make that change.

At the risk of sounding cliche, remember the Golden Rule: “Treat others as you want to be treated.” It is an elementary concept, but one that we seem to have forgotten.

{cc-by-nd}