Homophobia at Oregon City High School

18 Apr
Home of Homophobia

Home of Homophobia

I have to thank my dear friend and amazing LGBT ally, Jennifer Carey, for inspiring me to write this story. She actually heard about this sad news before I did. Yet another story that hurts my heart.  Once again, here in the self purported progressive Portland, we witness some very ugly homophobia. Even more sad is that this awful incident comes in the wake of the Farmers Pantry homophobic debacle.

This story has a lovely beginning. Students at Oregon City High School were honoring the National Day of Silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools.  Just to prove how much we need this Day of Silence, other students at Oregon City High School decided to protest, creating and wearing shirts that read: “Gay Day is Not Ok.”  I won’t even bother to link to the very hurtful homophobic interview one of the teens gave, but I will share some of  his words:

I don’t have a big problem with gay people. It’s just when they start parading around the school about how we have a day of silence for gays, lesbians, transvestites — it’s like, we don’t have a straight day!

Let us hope this young man will have a transformative experience in his life and will not be full of so much hate. Let us hope he will evolve. I also tire of the often heard heterosexual victim attitude of: “I’m not homophobic — I just don’t want to treat gays equally.”  How do we even address the ignorance of “it’s like, we don’t have a straight day”?  I hear this from many white people about Black History Month — “why don’t we have a white history month?”   Really people? Every day is white heterosexual day.

I contacted the school and tried to speak with Principal Tom Lovell about this incident, but he never returned my calls. I am interested in how he is addressing or not addressing this very serious problem.

The impact of this incident sends a very clear message that LGBT students are not safe at Oregon City High School. It also sends a message that LGBT people here in Oregon have a long way to go to being treated as human beings. We have yet another reminder that we LGBT folk must navigate the world with extreme care. I guess we cannot “parade” our lives in public like heterosexuals who are allowed to be who they are all the time.

Call to action: Here is an opportunity for LGBT folk and our allies to call Principal Lovell and ask that he address this homophobic problem.  On a larger scale, we have another opportunity to ask all schools in every state to create and enforce policies that help protect LGBT students from bullying and harassment.

18 Responses to “Homophobia at Oregon City High School”

  1. Christine Noble April 18, 2014 at 5:59 am #

    Reblogged this on Hand of Ananke and commented:
    “we don’t have a straight day” That actually came out of someone’s mouth. But people wonder why I am so keyed up sometimes.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt April 18, 2014 at 6:01 am #

      Christine, I share your anger! I am in a constant state of disbelief when people say “Why don’t we have a straight day, or why don’t we have a white history month?” It just shows how much ignorance is out there still!

  2. Christine Noble April 18, 2014 at 6:00 am #

    I am made of angry right now.

  3. Elizabeth Brett April 18, 2014 at 6:01 am #

    Thank you Michael for highlighting this sad story.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt April 18, 2014 at 6:05 am #

      Liz, thank you for commenting here. Yes, it is a very sad story and a very sad reminder around issues of safety for the LGBT community.

  4. garyhollander April 18, 2014 at 7:03 am #

    In our local work on acceptance, we have found a need to do a lot of general education on the meaning of the word. The majority of people we meet understand acceptance to be the absence of rejection. To them, avoidance or tolerance are just other forms of acceptance. We have been using a new tag line: Acceptance means no strings attached.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt April 18, 2014 at 7:25 am #

      Gary, thank you for commenting! I’m glad to learn the word “tolerate” is being replaced with acceptance and I love how you have said: ” Acceptance means no strings attached.” Peace, Michael

  5. Mandy April 18, 2014 at 7:57 am #

    Thanks for this post, Michael. It breaks my heart at the intolerance still out there. I had the unfortunate experience a couple of weeks ago of having lunch with some people I wanted to get to know. Within 15 minutes the racist, homophobic views almost knocked me down. I didn’t believe, until then, that the problem was as real as what I heard. This particular interview you mention really hurts. When it’s the young people (and not the old fogy’s) who feel the way this student does, we have a really long way to go. I’m looking forward to the Basic Rights rally in downtown Portland in a few days! http://www.basicrights.org/event/vigils-for-the-freedom-to-marry/

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt April 18, 2014 at 9:14 am #

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Mandy. It is truly sad to discover how safe some people still feel expressing their intolerance. When it’s clear that homophobia still knows no geographic or generational barriers, we still have a lot of work to do. Peace, Michael

  6. Central Oregon Coast NOW April 18, 2014 at 8:42 am #

    Reblogged this on Central Oregon Coast NOW.

  7. Mandy April 20, 2014 at 9:59 pm #

    Hi Michael, I have nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award. You may choose to accept or not. It’s just my way of letting everyone know about the important work you do and I hope others will follow your blog.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt April 21, 2014 at 6:31 am #

      Mandy, I am exceedingly honored and humbled by this award. Thank you for your voice for social justice! Yours in solidarity, Michael.

  8. The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap May 6, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

    Always happy to connect with a like minded friend. Paulette❤

  9. Sun May 25, 2014 at 9:26 am #

    Well, a white history day? Isn’t living in a homogenous area a white history day? Obviously these people and parents need to be educated about american history! This is not their land, rights were only given to white male landowners, Manifest Destiny (an epic entitlement and genocidal movement), slavery to create wealth, and redlining in areas such as Oregon City and the surrounding areas. I am of color and I live in Clackamas. I see racism, white privilege, entitlement everyday. With my education and background, it is difficult to be around people who are those things. At times it has been scary. My daughter and I have experienced the violent hatred that is imbedded in this culture and it has not been challenged or confronted (thanks to redlining!) The solution would be for the administration of the school to hire highly-qualified teachers of color and perhaps people with beliefs of equity and equality. They need to challenge the broken system that has been put into place by the people who birthed the United States. But why should they if they are the ones benefiting from the system? Entitlement is an ugly word and practice!

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt May 25, 2014 at 9:31 am #

      Sun, thank you for commenting here! You have done an amazing job of explaining how white privilege is so embedded and remains such a part of our country’s narrative. We must always look at the intersections of race, gender, sexual orientation, and the many other ways we target people. Thank you also for calling attention to both equity and equality, which are similar but different issues with different outcomes. Yours in solidarity, Michael.

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