It’s been a little quiet in the ongoing battle between Texas and Florida for which state has the title of most intolerant and stupid population. Florida, who was already winning the homophobia category, put the final nail in Texas to win the 2005 top honors with this gem:
In an elementary school in Orange Park, FL, two 6th graders we’re mouthing words to each other while the teacher was lecturing. Not an uncommon occurrence, about on par with passing notes and whispering, something each of us has done at one time or another. While it is often considered rude by teachers, usually students face admonishment, detention or in rare circumstances, a trip to the Prinicipal’s office.
But not in Florida. No, teacher Larry Eager decided to really teach these kids a lesson, by making them get up in front of the class and tell everyone they were gay. That’s right, this brilliant genius, who up until a couple of days ago was teaching children, thought it would be a good idea to get these kids up and make them sit closely next to each other with their knees touching and holding hands and announcing to the class that they were gay.
It goes without saying that this kind of humiliation technique is completely inappropriate for a teacher to engage in, as well as it being a little overboard for kids, who were probably not paying close attention, but also not disrupting class in any way.
But the larger issue is the idea that being gay is some sort of punishment and should be considered a thing that was a threat or humiliation. It just goes to show how deep this kind of bigotry runs in this country.
Remember that guy (from Florida) who beat his 3 year old kid to death because he thought he was gay? Remember those other kids (in Florida) who burned down the home of two gay men? Where do you think that kind of mentality comes from? Right here in this school. This teacher was obviously way out of bounds, but for someone who is obviously educated enough to be a teacher to think that this kind of thing was OK, is wrong on so many levels.
This sort of behavior maintains the idea that being gay is so horrible that you should be traumatized for life or killed because of it. It’s absolutely outrageous that this teacher did this, but I also think it is even more outrageous and contemptible that the teacher resigned. Good riddance you say? You bet, but that means he wasn’t fired immediately. He was put on 97-day probation. To me that says that the teacher was only disciplined because the students and their parents complained.
And that’s at the heart of it. When the school, the community and the church do not openly condemn this kind of thing, but conversely give it tacit approval by not responding with definite action and also turn around and preach discrimination and hated of gays in the houses of god and seats of government – where are people supposed to learn that this is wrong?
Can we really blame this teacher for taking his hatred of gays just a step further than the church, government and community are comfortable with? Actually yes, because it’s his non-thinking, prejudiced action that is at fault, but equal blame must reside with the society that not only allows it t happen, but clandestinely condones it.
This is not the kind of country I’d be proud to call home.
This article originally appeared on The Rudicus Report. ED/PUB:LM