The student who created and hung "Straight Pride" fliers in an Indiana high school has spoken out since officials took them down last week and fellow students hosted a pro-acceptance gathering over the weekend in response to the incident.
The fliers, which were removed before Jasper High School students arrived Friday morning, read, “Celebrate being straight at JHS by not annoying the heck out of everyone about your sexual orientation!” along with "We are taking back the rainbow" and “Brought to you by all the students that are sick of hearing about your LGBT Pride.”
The Dubois County Herald reported that it received a two-page letter from the 16-year-old who created and posted the fliers and that the paper confirmed the student's identity through the student's parent.
The student apologized if the message of the fliers hurt others' feelings, and said that "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," the letter read, according to the Herald, "but should rather be found in gaining support through cooperation and equal incorporation to our society."
The Herald added more from the letter:
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.
The paper reported that the posted fliers weren't approved by the school and that the administration wouldn't say what discipline, if any, the student who posted them might face.
Hours after the fliers were removed, a group known as Huddle: Dubois County — which fights for "civil and human rights, equality and justice for all" and champions "diversity in all of its forms" — posted a message on its Facebook page in support of students who may have been upset by them.
"We know what it’s like to grow up feeling marginalized among your friends, family and peers. We know what it’s like to be unsure about whether you can be yourself in your home, your church, your school and public places," the message read. "We support your right to live a life free of persecution. We support you if you choose to speak out about your safety and well being, and we support you if you choose to keep your sexual orientation or gender identity private. Know you have many people cheering for you, and you don’t have to be silent if you don’t want to be."
The Huddle message added that it doesn't want non-LGBT students 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."
On Sunday evening, about 40 Jasper students got together with other community members to decorate the sidewalks and walls outside the school's main entrance with chalked quotes and phrases to counteract the message of the "Straight Pride" fliers, the Herald noted in a separate story.
“(After) the incident on Friday, there was kind of a negative, somber feeling in the school,” event organizer Sydney Traylor, a senior, told the paper. “I thought, what better way to spread positivity and bring joy than to start the week off right with something that people can do.”
As for the fliers, Traylor told the Herald, "I don’t feel like anybody shoves anything down my throat at all. 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.”
Here's the full text of letter written by the student who posted the fliers, via the Herald:
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.