Student responds after ‘straight pride’ backlash

"Straight Pride" fliers, like this one, were discovered hanging on hallway display areas at Jasper High School on Friday.

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

JASPER — The Herald received a two-page letter this morning from the 16-year-old Jasper High School student responsible for creating and posting “straight pride” fliers on display areas inside the school last Friday.

The Herald will not identify the minor involved but confirmed their identity through the student’s parent.

In the letter, the student discussed their intentions for hanging the papers and revisited parts of their message.

“The purpose of my flier was to not only recognize the straight community, but to also give a message to the LGBT community that equality is not effectively found in granting special privileges to minorities by differentiating them from our great society, but should rather be found in gaining support through cooperation and equal incorporation to our society,” the letter read.

The fliers were taken down 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 papers 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.

In the flier creator’s letter, the student also addressed several parts of the fliers that they believed “many people have interpreted incorrectly” since photos surfaced online last Friday.

The papers had the sentence, “Just come to the JHS, then you go about your day without telling everyone about how ‘different’ and ‘special’ you are!”

“If everyone is truly equal, then nobody should differentiate themselves from society by means of protective isolation and stating that they are not like others,” the letter read. “If everyone is equal and should be treated as such, it should not be necessary to state that certain individuals are different or special.”

The fliers also read, “If you want equality, stop shoving your ideas down our throats!”

“By saying that certain individuals are shoving ideas down other people’s throats, I did not mean that they should not have the right to practice their own freedom of speech,” the letter responded. “What was being referenced was the idea that whenever an individual decides not to support the ideas of another individual, they face being attacked, ostracized, and detested. What was being referenced was the fact that individuals who do not support progressive ideology are forced to accept or remain censored.”

About 40 Jasper High School students and kids in the community gathered Sunday evening to decorate the sidewalks outside the school’s main entrance in a rainbow of chalk artwork and uplifting quotes in response to the fliers.

A full copy of the student's letter is below:

I am writing this letter in response to the posters that I hung around the school on Thursday. My intent is to refine my reasons for doing so and to hopefully bring understanding between the GSA and the GSA reactionaries.

On Thursday, I wrote about how Jasper High School should recognize the straight community with equal enthusiasm as the LGBT community since both are filled with amazing human-beings that should be treated equally. Everybody is entitled to share their own thoughts on how a stronger community can be achieved and how the acceptance that everyone shares with one another can be improved.

In no way was my flier intended to offend and demean the GSA, and if it hurt anybody's feelings I would encourage my condolences to be accepted. Hurting your feelings was not my intention.

The purpose of my flier was to not only recognize the straight community, but to also give a message to the LGBT community that equality is not effectively found in granting special privileges to minorities by differentiating them from our great society, but should rather be found in gaining support through cooperation and equal incorporation into society.

All people experience hardships; some more than others. Everyone should push through these hardships and do great things in spite of them. People should not use these hardships as a reason for promoting their equality, but should use the fact that everyone is a human being as a justification for ensuring equality among all people.

When an opposing side voices their opinion and offers constructive criticism, the intent is not to suppress the other side’s voice. At the end of the day, everyone is a human being and should be treated as such with equal opportunities, and in a lot of ways people are already treated equally.

Great progress has been made in many realms as far as social issues have gone in recent years, and I feel like an alteration in the basis of why people should be accepting of one another has good reason to be accepted. If our society adopts the idea that everyone should be given equal opportunities because everyone is a human being over the promotion of the idea that certain individuals are underprivileged or more prone to being offended, our communities can learn to be more accepting of one another.

With this alteration, our society can eventually toss aside the idea that everyone is separate, and everyone can become recognized as part of a cohesive community. This cohesive community can only become reality by all parties recognizing the fact that facing people who are not accepting of their own views is part of the process of living.

People should recognize that facing people of opposing views and hearing ideas from other people is simply an element of what the education process was derived from. Creating a cohesive society where topics can be discussed and progress can be achieved without the fear of offending groups of people is not effectively achieved by censorship. Everyone can become part of a cohesive society by recognizing that integration is more constructive than separation and differentiation from society. The basic principles of our nation grant all people freedom and equality under our Constitution.

I would now like to address some parts of my flier that many people have interpreted incorrectly.

“Go about your day without telling everyone about how different and special you are.”

• If everyone is truly equal, then nobody should differentiate themselves from society by means of protective isolation and stating that they are not like others. If everyone is equal and should be treated as such, it should not be necessary to state that certain individuals are different or special.

“If you want equality, stop shoving your ideas down our throats.”

• By saying that certain individuals are shoving ideas down other people’s throats, I did not mean that they should not have the right to practice their own freedom of speech. What was being referenced was the idea that whenever an individual decides not to support the ideas of another individual, they face being attacked, ostracized, and detested. What was being referenced was the fact that individuals who do not support progressive ideology are forced to accept or remain censored.

Reactionaries to the GSA simply want to be able to retain the right to not accept your views. I support the social ideology of equality for all people protected under the Constitution, but I also recognize the fact that my peers have the right to object to other people’s ideas without their ideas being censored even if it is seen as hate speech.

I believe in equality while still recognizing people’s rights to have opinions that others may view as vicious. 

If the LGBT population in the United States truly hopes to win the respect or tolerance of their heterosexual counterparts and along with that basic human rights such as marriage, then pride activists must alter their methods to show that they deserve to be taken seriously - that they deserve not to be subjugated or persecuted based on their common genetic disposition.

The social liberal ideology stands for equality and incorporation into society and yet establishes safe spaces for isolation. If you attend a safe space because you feel like it is a place that you can be loved, I can tell you that society does love you.

People simply want to let you know that they have the right to object to your ideas. People can love you and disagree with you at the same time. Society will love you no matter what, even if they object to some of your ideas.

People simply don't want to have to accept you because they were forced to accept you. People want to accept you because they chose to accept you. These means of acceptance are simply different from your method of acceptance, but the ultimate result is the fact that you are accepted and when you are accepted, you are loved.

Instead of having pride in the things people cannot determine, lets all have pride in the fact that we will all go on to do great things in life.

 




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