June 5, 2010

O Mount Si! You Never Cease to be in the News

On June 3, 2010, The Seattle Times published a story about a student who was severely injured in a locker room fight at Mount Si High School. You can read the story online, but to summarize, the story states that the victim was a fourteen year old boy who had a friend that was constantly harassed about being gay (the article never says that he was homosexual, just that that is how he was being teased). In a courageous act, the victim stood up for his friend resulting in him being beaten, as his mother described, beyond recognition. This happened in November of 2009 and is only being reported now.

My argument is not with the facts of the story. While I would not consider The Seattle Times to be a completely honest source, that is not what I would like the address. In regards to the article itself, it accomplished what it was meant to accomplish. As anyone in the Seattle area knows, the Snoqualmie Valley and especially Mount Si High School are considered a hot-bed in a gay-civil-rights-sort-of clash. Since the school’s GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) club was formed it has worked to increase the amount of turmoil in a school system plagued by poor and mismanagement. In 2008, this created an even bigger problem as people throughout King County got involved in Day of Silence protests and rallies at the school. Of course, the good old Seattle Times brought this up first. It does not matter that one student smashed the face of his own peer. It does not matter that harassment in general is wrong. What matters is that the whole issue revolves around homosexuality and how Mount Si is apparently full of people who hate them and administrators who either do not seem to care or support the anti-gay students.

Now, as someone who graduated from Mount Si, I would say that I know the principal, Randy Taylor as well as any of the other students in the school who read the notices he would send home and listen to countless rambling monologues over the intercom or assembly pulpit. Having said that, I can say that unless Mr. Taylor is overcompensating for something else, the man is FAR from anti-gay. While that does not make him a champion of gay rights or anything like that, the man does not have enough of a backbone to be on either side of the issue.

And there is where the problem lies. Not in that he cannot choose a side to fight for (or at least sit around and write pointless letters home for), but in that he has no backbone. Ever since he arrived, the school has spun out of control. What power the administration does have left comes from Ms. Castle, but she derives her power from scaring teens, not by solving problems. Elsewhere, the power had been absorbed by teachers (who without authority act out worse than the students) and clubs…primarily the GSA.

While reading the response of one student I know, she pointed out that this incident should not have been covered up or hidden from the students. I disagree strongly with that statement. I view this incident not as Mr. Taylor and the administrators acting out of fear, but acting with responsibility. I believe that in order to protect the citizens of a country, there are some things that cannot be public knowledge. Likewise, not only was it not the business of every student in the district to know that such a thing happened at school. Frightening a captive audience does no good. Plus we all see what has happened now. Mr. Taylor’s life has once again been inundated with angry e-mails and meetings suggesting that the violence was his fault. Now, I am not a fan of the guy, but I think that that is beyond harsh. While the people inside of the school are often unruly, I would argue that Mount Si has done well managing violent students (in the sense that they are usually expelled promptly). As much as some students wish, Mr. Taylor cannot stop crime before it happens unless it is expected. Safe to say, nobody expected one kid to start slamming another kid around in the locker room. The assailant was expelled and the victim has since transferred to another school despite counseling in which he allegedly said he believed he was safe at Mount Si after the attack. The problem has been dealt with.

But of course, at Mount Si, it’s not over until everyone and their mother writes to every paper in King County about the ordeal.

I will admit, I do have a problem with the part of the story where Mount Si waited an hour to call emergency services to take care of the boy (especially since I have been to “the nurse” before and not once did I ever see a nurse). I do not know whether that is the truth or a Seattle Times original, but I hope that it is the latter. There is always time to figure out who did the crime after 911 has been called.

In conclusion (there’s a fun thing you learned in school), I do not think that this incident can be blamed on the administrators at Mount Si, and that they were only trying to do good by not publishing the story when it happened. While the assailant may have been anti-gay (but more likely just a troublemaker), the climate of the school regarding homosexuality did not contribute to his behavior.

To see what some people are saying about this, check out:

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=116237251752682

No comments: