January 18, 2008

Snoqualmie, Washington's Martin Luther King Day Assembly

School disgusted me today. The one assembly of the year where Mount Si withholds their immaturity in order to honor a man that gave his life in the name of racial equality and it was brought to a disturbing end. Not by freshman giggles or that boy that always seems to be texting, not even by students holding a white supremacist viewpoint. No, they all listened, reverently and respectfully to the national acclaimed speaker, Ken Hutcherson who in turn delivered a thoughtful representation of his childhood in the racially divided south. Following his speech, we shared in a celebration of unique cultures, especially those of the Pacific Islands, with our peers. When Quinn gave his closing statements, we were all fulfilled. We did not get to see some of our star athletes catch random foods in their mouths, or shave balloons, but we were content nonetheless. We all knew what Quinn was talking about when he briefly approached the delicate issue of the planning that went into the assembly and did not, and would have not pursued the unspoken issue in the fashion that nobody knew would follow that meeting. Instead of just being dismissed as usual, a teacher, in no way involved in the planning of the assembly (at least to my knowledge) felt the necessity to interrupt the peace by giving a spiel about her association to Mount Si's Gay-Straight Alliance and asking Doctor Hutcherson a specific question about his views on Gay Rights. It was in no way applicable to the situation or a statement that would have enlightened a group of students quickly growing uneasy. It was the wrong place at the very wrong time. Her single inappropriately placed question was understandably denied an answer. Her actions disgusted even those that agree with her viewpoint, and I was personally embarrassed by her behavior and knew the worst was to come.

As any student or faculty member will tell you, Gay Rights is one of the most disputed issues at the school. Far beyond issues of abortion and the Iraq War, Gay Rights are only discussed when they must be (which is often when teachers feel they should) due to the verbally violent form the debaters take on. It becomes the issue that tears friends apart and turns complete strangers against one another. It destroys the fragile learning environment and takes a strong willed supervisor to return the students to their proper courses of learning. Why would anyone purposefully do something to create something as disturbing as the discord we saw today? If you cared at all about the learning and safety of students, why would you use the classroom to further your amoral agenda?

What I saw today made me upset. While I participated in only a few discussions of that nature, as I have more important things to be doing at school, the atmosphere around me made me sad. To see people on both sides so upset that they were calling their parents, going home early, yelling red-faced at their peers was horrifying. You read in the Bible that the last days will be full of hate and anger and while I am sure greater hate must exist elsewhere, I believe that today a few English teachers created the type of drama that must mirror the fear inducing hate that we will see in years to come. The thing that may surprise whoever may find and read this (or possibly only support an already growing opinion) is that the most venomous comments were coming from those who believed that the other side was full of haters and bigots. I do not say that to be biased in any way. Never have I seen those against the Gay Rights movement "make the first move", so to speak, when defending their beliefs. They are not the ones who disrupt school with their Day of Silence. They are not the ones who defile the name of Reverend Martin Luther King with their flamboyant obsession. However, that is not to say that we are going to watch defenselessly as our beautiful nation is torn apart from within.

There have been many views of what happened today. To close, all I will say is that I saw hate. Not from those who want to preserve the classical family unit, but from those that are trying to overthrow it. I am thankful that I have friends with whom I can disagree and openly examine the issues with, but who will still respect me and my beliefs, no matter how different. It is something that I wish everyone could try. I also thank the teachers who let those of us who felt the need, briefly discuss and release our problems then steadfastly directing us to get to work. They were forced to step up in a situation created by their coworkers and should be praised for that. As for what will happen to the teachers who both created and furthered the issue, we can only hope that the administration will feel of the fear and disruption that were created today.

No comments: