'Straight Pride' fliers posted at Jasper High SchoolMarch 3, 2017
By ALLEN LAMAN
JASPER — “Straight Pride” fliers were discovered hanging on hallway display areas at Jasper High School this morning.
The fliers read: “Celebrate being straight at JHS by not annoying the heck out of everyone about your sexual orientation! It is easy! Just come to the JHS, then you go about your day without telling everyone about how ‘different’ and ‘special’ you are!”
The fliers went on to say that they were “Brought to you by all the students that are sick of hearing about your LGBT pride. Nobody cares about what you think you are. If you want equality, stop shoving your ideas down our throats! We have nothing against your sexual orientation. We just don’t care!”
The sheets of paper also included two rainbow flags accompanied by the phrase, “We are taking back the rainbow.”
Principal Brian Wilson said the papers were removed before students arrived for classes.
He confirmed that the school has identified the individual responsible for their placement, but did not comment on the consequences he or she will face.
Greater Jasper Superintendent Tracy Lorey said the fliers were hung between Thursday’s class dismissal and Friday morning. She did not comment on the total number of fliers that were hung.
She said they do not represent the dominant mentality at the school.
“It is our intent to provide students opportunities to express themselves in a way that helps them to be understanding of the unique qualities of all individuals,” she said. “The world is full of unique individuals (regardless of) race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. That’s the world, and it’s our job to prepare students to function within that world and to have respect for others.”
She added that the students don’t have to always agree, but they have to be able to respect contrasting opinions and beliefs. She encouraged students that are scared by the fliers to reach out to faculty members.
“It’s our intent to provide our students with a safe, caring and nurturing learning environment,” Lorey said. “We encourage students who are concerned about actions to talk to a teacher, administrator (or) counselor. We address those things swiftly and encourage students to do that so we can deal with their concerns and provide actions that ensure that they don’t feel that way.”
The school’s display areas are located above lockers throughout the building and are typically used to promote the activities of school groups, clubs and athletics teams. In order to utilize them, students need to acquire permission through a club sponsor, coach or administrator.
The “Straight Pride” fliers did not follow this protocol.
A post on the school corporation’s Facebook page said that all unauthorized material on the displays will continue to be swiftly removed and offenders will be dealt with through the school’s disciplinary policy.
“Through extra-curricular clubs and activities, we encourage students to develop their sense of self and respect for the unique qualities of others,” the post read. “Student expression is encouraged through the established protocol of the school. Such expression should not interfere with the educational programming of the school. Any activities that create a substantial disruption will not be permitted.”
On Monday, the newly formed group Huddle: Dubois County donated a banner to the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance that was later hung in the school's cafeteria.
The banner contained seven words and a heart (pictured above).
The group believes the fliers may be in response to the banner being displayed in the school.
Huddle’s Facebook page describes the group as an inclusive, action-oriented community of individuals striving to make its members’ voices heard and turn their values into actions. It promises to work for progress on local, state and national levels for civil and human rights, as well as equality and justice for all.
“The banner was just a show of support to those students who might feel alone and isolated,” said group co-founder Abbie Rumbach of Jasper. “It was a show of support to let them know that there are people in the community that stand behind them (and) that love and support them.”
The group posted a letter to Jasper students on its Facebook page that said “LGBT pride” is a movement that exists to let people know they don’t have to hide or feel ashamed or alone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2016 that the rate of suicide attempts is 4 times greater for LGBT youth than that of straight youth.
“For many years, LGBT people have been told being LGBT is illegal, morally wrong or dangerous, and they’ve been harmed in many ways as a result,” the post read.
The letter also had a message for students that don’t fall under that umbrella.
“Students of Jasper High School who don’t identify as LGBT, we support you,” the post reads in part. “We want you to grow up to be courageous, strong and empowered adults who understand the immense privilege you were born with in this world. We want you to understand why you should advocate for the rights of people who aren’t like you, and why your families and communities will be stronger when you stand up for each other and the differences you have. We don’t want you to wonder why there isn’t a “straight pride” movement. We want you to understand why you don’t need one. You can feel grateful every day you were born into a world where your sexuality and gender identity are publicly valued, and where you don’t face persecution for not being LGBT. We’re here for you as you grow and learn.”