Sunday, May 24, 2009

It hurts to think about... but gotta give 'em hope.

Two other human rights issues involving students this week. Both slightly farther away, in the US.

1) A sixth grader who was inspired by the recent Harvey Milk movie, decided to do a presentation on the movie for school. The school censored it.

They refused to allow the child to give the presentation in class, and required her classmates to get parental permission to see the presentation during a lunch recess. Although Harvey Milk was an elected city councillor, and an important historical figure in California and American history, because he was gay and championed gay rights, the school superintendent decided the girl's presentation violated a district board policy on “Family Life/Sex Education.”

I have to admit I still haven't gotten around to seeing the Harvey Milk movie (I want to, just haven't yet). But I know a great deal about Harvey Milk. I did a history presentation on him back in 1988, grade 13 history class... are you ready .. wait for it.. IN CATHOLIC SCHOOL. No one had any problem with it. In fact, because gay rights was a "new" area of history no one knew much about it, and my classmates were as shocked and horrified as I was to find out that gay relationships (not marriage, but simply being in a gay relationship) was illegal in about 20 US states at the time.

It's incredible to me that a California school in 2009 (I mean c'mon California) could be more backwards that a Catholic school 30 years ago in a medium-sized Canadian town.

2) After tripping across that, I was checking out The Galloping Beaver where Dave has a post about a NY times story describing racially segregated proms Montgomery County High School. Modern day racially segregated proms.

Apparently the students have tried to desegregate he proms, and both white and black students would like to see this happen, but white parents are holding out.

The US is a country of contradictions. They produce pot-smokin comedies like Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle but in real life will throw an 18 year old in jail for 25 years for the possession of a small amount of marijuana. They hold their First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech so dearly, yet a young girl studying a prominent California politician is silenced by her school. They've elected a black president, but would have kept him from attending the white kid's prom if he's grown up in Montgomery County.

It makes my head spin. When I feel this way.. I think of two things. An elder who once told me "I may live in a colonized country but I refuse to behave like a colonized woman." and of course I think about Harvey Milk... gotta give 'em hope. (watch the YOUtube video.)


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