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.