JHS students respond: ‘Love is for ALL’March 6, 2017
By ALLEN LAMAN
JASPER — Two days after “straight pride” fliers were discovered on display areas at Jasper High School, students and kids in the community gathered Sunday to share a message of their own — one promoting love and unity.
They decorated the sidewalks outside the school’s main entrance in a rainbow of chalk artwork and uplifting quotes.
Phrases like, “Love is for ALL,” “We rise by lifting others,” and “Be kind to one another” were drawn inside sidewalk blocks and on stairway structures to create a bright checkerboard of positivity outside the building.
“(After) the incident on Friday, there was kind of a negative, somber feeling in the school,” said event organizer and Jasper senior Sydney Traylor. “I thought, what better way to spread positivity and bring joy than to start the week off right with something that people can do.”
She said she wanted to put students entering the building on Monday in a good mood.
The “straight pride” fliers were removed before students arrived at school on Friday. Their text said they were “Brought to you by all the students that are sick of hearing about your LGBT Pride” and said “Celebrate being straight at JHS by not annoying the heck out of everyone about your sexual orientation!”
The fliers also stated that “Nobody cares about what you think you are,” and “If you want equality, stop shoving your ideas down our throats!”
School administration identified the individual responsible for their placement on Friday, but did not comment on the consequences he or she will face.
Traylor approached school administration the same day and received approval for Sunday’s event. Teacher sponsors included Joshua Dodd, S.J. Burns, Atalie Schroering and Dana Kunz. They monitored the kids while they drew.
“As a faculty member, as an educator, I think I can speak for everybody at the school that we just want a safe environment that’s inclusive to all,” Dodd said. “There’s a lot of kids that don’t fit in. I think it’s good to show support for those students. For some of those kids, this is the only place that they come that they might see any positivity. They might not be getting it at home because mom and dad might not be there or might not agree with what they’re doing. This might be the only place they can find that kind of positivity. We just want to be that place.”
Burns estimated that about 40 kids came to the chalk-drawing event on Sunday. Jasper junior Jack Greener was one of them.
“I think something really small like this — that’s easy and fun to do — can really help someone,” Greener said. “We all wanted to show that one person’s view that was plastered everywhere wasn’t everyone here. I think that this is really showing that and the support of this is really cool.”
According to Greater Jasper Superintendent Tracy Lorey, the fliers did not follow the necessary protocol to be placed on the display areas.
These spaces are located above lockers throughout the building and are typically used to promote the activities of school groups, clubs and athletics teams. Students need to acquire permission through a club sponsor, coach or administrator to utilize them.
“I don’t want to speak for the whole student body, but for me, I don’t feel like anybody shoves anything down my throat at all,” Traylor said in response to the fliers. “I was just kind of taken back that something like that would be posted in Jasper High School. I just thought it was kind of ridiculous.”
Dodd said the papers were not representative of what normally happens at the school.
“I feel like the students here — for the most part — do a really good job of bonding, getting along and are accepting of others,” Dodd said. “These kids aren’t going to stay in Jasper, Indiana, their whole lives. They’re going to go to bigger cities, other states. They’re going to experience a lot more culture than what we have here. It’s our job (as teachers) to make sure that they’re prepared for that and that they’re at least able to be tolerant of it because you can’t have a job and have radical views. You work with different groups of people, especially on a global level, you’ve got to be kind of tolerant of everyone you’re working with.”
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