GSA concerns still simmer in Morris

The hot social issue around here has been the efforts to get a Gay Straight Alliance club established at Morris Area High School — it has been approved by the school board, but they immediately slapped up new rules to restrict the ability of that club to advertise its existence. The usual small town reaction has occurred: letters to the editor of the local paper! I’ve actually been rather happy with the response — most of the letters have a decidedly liberal bent.

Here’s one from Nancy Carpenter, of the chemistry discipline (a lot of the liberal glow, or should I say taint, is coming from the university community) which I rather liked.

I’ve lived in Morris for more than 25 years – almost half my life. I’ve made good friends of all kinds here and in general, I’ve found it a good place to live. I’m glad I landed here… but that doesn’t mean that all is right in our world.

It is such a shame that our high school, school board and community have not embraced, uplifted and celebrated our youth as evidenced by the recent failure to enthusiastically support the MAHS Gay Straight Alliance (GSA). While the majority of the school board members voted to allow the GSA to exist (a good and honorable thing to do), there was a general resignation and begrudging realization that “it had to be done.” Here was an opportunity to embrace our young peoples’ efforts toward social justice, human rights and respect for one another (I daresay these are “Christian values”) – but it was an opportunity lost. Instead of endorsing this group and applauding their efforts with overwhelming support, the GSA – along with other “non-curricular” groups – was slapped in the face after the school board vote with back-handed, backroom rules that will effectively undermine any efforts to move forward. (See Kim Ukura’s piece “Literature in a Hurry,” Oct. 24, on the new policy rules.)

The Morris Area High School “core values” include (among others) “integrity and honesty,” “respect” and “communication.” When will the community members of Morris and our school personnel stop being cowed and stand up for these core values? “Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph” (Haile Selassie). Evil may not have triumphed here, but the silence is deafening.

I wish I could rebut one small part of that letter by saying those are atheist values, too, but lately I’ve been feeling like a lot of atheist values are more regressive than those of some liberal churches.


  1. John Small Berries says

    lately I’ve been feeling like a lot of atheist values are more regressive than those of some liberal churches.

    Put an ‘s’ and an apostrophe after the word ‘atheist’ there and I’d agree with you. But I’m an atheist and I don’t share those regressive values.

    Go ahead and call me a “dictionary atheist”, but I think one’s values have more to do with whether or not one possesses a sense of empathy than whether or not one believes in any gods.

  2. says

    Wow, well said Ms. Carpenter!

    John Small Berries:

    Go ahead and call me a “dictionary atheist”,

    I’m starting to want every person who brings up dictionary atheist to be smacked, hard, on the head. Can we not have one discussion which does not cater to these self-centered…people?

  3. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re 3:
    how about we consider “Atheist” to be a category label. A set that includes many members, who may have additional characteristics (of different categories) that may be disagreeable to some of the members of the atheist set.
    Think of Venn diagram, with many circles, partially overlapping. “Dictionary Atheists” appear to be that part of the “atheist” set where no other sets overlap, and demand that only that segment of the set be “atheist”. Many here argue that “atheism” is not a singular, stand-alone set, but includes many overlaps. “Atheism” and “regressive values” are not mutually exclusive, nor decisively inclusive (ie being one of those two, does not ensure being part of the other one).

  4. Funny Diva says

    I read the “Christian values” part as Ms Carpenter basically calling the regressives hypocrites without actually using the word…
    As in, “what’s the matter with you? These are the values you SAY are YOUR core values…and yet, when it comes to gay students they have to be suppressed. Why is that?”

    Her use of scare quotes made it pretty clear to me that she was not, herself, claiming that these were exclusively Xtian values…only that they’re values that Christians are fond of claiming (often exclusively) for themselves.

  5. goaded says

    What is the difference between “non-Dictionary Atheists” and “Secular Humanists”?

    Is it worth a discuss thread, so people can be told “go look in there”? Somehow I doubt it would be welcome in the “Interesting Stuff” thread.

    IMO, there are good reasons why Atheists should be Secular Humanists, but there will be some who are not, just as there are good reasons why children should pay attention in school, but there will be some who do not.

  6. blf says

    Oh FFS, the OP is on the bigotry, discrimination, and lies about LGBTQ people, and more-or-less everyone is arguing about the definition of a word.

  7. F.O. says

    I agree with Funny Dive #6, the mention of Christian values is pretty much calling out Christian hypocrisy.
    Yeah, those are values that every decent human being should have.

    And yes, religion or lack thereof seems to have no correlation whatsoever with the goodness of a person.

  8. goaded says

    I would like to watch a funny dive, but it was funny diva. I also agree that bigotry is wrong, duh, but we’re not the ones redefining a word.