Gay + Lesbian Youth – Making History

Dave Hammer,
Gay-Straight Alliance

DAVE HAMMER: I don’t know if it’s even like a macho thing… I mean like the generic cool guy is supposed to get the girl.

MARNIE GIBBONS: I don’t think that kids right now purposely mean to be mean sometimes when they call kids a fag, especially, but it’s just part of their vocabulary. And just like when we’ve taught kids that it’s not okay to call somebody a ni***r any more… It’s the same sort of a thing.

NARRATOR:  Some male students admitted only off-camera they didn’t support homosexuals. But in the anonymous survey, some said, “I hate them,” ….. “..just keep  them out of my sight and away from me.”

Attitudes like these prompted Weld’s Commission to release it’s first report on how to make schools safe for gay students.  It recommends schools create policies to protect gay students, support groups for gay and straight students and their families, provide teacher training, and gay studies in the library and curriculum.

AMALIA BARREDA: Cambridge Rindge and Latin is one of the handful of schools across the commonwealth currently tackling the issue of discrimination against gays and lesbians. Those behind this program have high hopes that the governor’s recent recommendations advocating gay rights in schools will make the issue a high priority will make high priority among educators across Massachusetts.

The five recommendations call for establishing school policies protecting homosexual students from any form of discrimination, training all school staff in crisis intervention and violence prevention, starting school-based support groups for all students, keeping information in school libraries for homosexual adolescence, and expanding the curriculum to include gay and lesbian issues.

Lesbian high school student, Jessica Byers, hopes the recommendations will help people be more comfortable with the issue and stop avoiding it.

JESSICA BYERS: I mean all I want is to just have it be like everybody else and be able to talk about it if I want to talk about it. Not if I don’t. Not have to have to be a really big deal

AMALIA BARREDA: But opponents say the issue does not belong in the classroom morally or practically. Pat Anthony is a laid off teacher whose a member of Citizens for Family First.

PAT ANTHONY: And again, teachers are overworked as it is. We’re just trying to teach the basics. We don’t have time to add anything new.

AMALIA BARREDA:  The head  of the Governor’s Commission, however, says that a 30 percent suicide rate, among gay high school student is a big problem that needs addressing now.

DAVID LAFONTAINE: We can’t afford to let peoples’ fears get in the way of giving the kids the health they need.

 AMALIA BARREDA: The State Department of Education has also given its approval to the recommendations. Gay rights supporters say that’s another huge step toward making a very touchy issue more acceptable and hopefully beyond. For the night file, I’m Amalia