Friday, May 30, 2008

"Weeding Out" Homophobes

Two weeks ago in South Carolina, Eddie Walker resigned from his principalship at Irmo High School after a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) was created at Irmo. His resignation letter stated that his religious and professional beliefs “put him at odds” with such a group. Recently, there has been quite a fuss over Walker’s resignation. (See for more information.)

Let’s tell it like it is: An admitted and unapologetic homophobe has chosen to remove himself from a position of authority over children. This is a sign of hope for LGBT youth in public schools, because it indicates that Walker felt it would be futile to attempt to destroy the GSA from within.

Though he was clearly hoping that the school board would ban the GSA, Walker’s resignation doesn’t seem to have hurt the Irmo High School community yet. If anything, it appears to have further cemented the solidarity among queer-positive people in Greenville. Earlier this week, a large crowd gathered outside the district school board meeting to support the foundation of the gay-straight alliance that Walker protested. One Greenville resident spoke about the homophobic murder of her son this past year. The crowd sent a message to the school board about the absolute necessity for the gay-straight alliance that Walker had such a personal problem with.

Though I believe education is a crucial first step in effectively addressing LGBT ignorance, I also believe that it doesn’t hurt to put pressure on homophobes and transphobes to get out and stay out. People who are unwilling to self-educate and open their eyes to ever-growing worlds of sexuality and gender should be made to feel unwelcome. I have no qualms about forcing people like Eddie Walker to confront their own biases, and I have no sympathy for bigots who are put on the spot and called out for their violence. Claims about so-called “reverse discrimination” against heterosexuals are completely bogus.

We need to trash this trumped-up notion of “tolerance” that fosters condescension from heterosexuals and cisgendered people towards LGBT individuals. Let’s dispose of the concept of “tolerance” that does nothing to prevent the stigmatization and phenomenalization of queer and trans people. I wish more public schools would send the message: We will not tolerate anyone who propagates bigotry and hate. Not around here.

To Eddie Walker: Good for you, for standing with your convictions. And good riddance.

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