Gay Students Need Support, Not a Jury of Their Peers

What a sight it must be, to be 16 years old and see more than 100 of your classmates lined up outside your school to condemn your very existence.

Kind of makes worrying about a history test seem rather incidental, I'd imagine.

That, however, was the scene Monday outside Fountain Valley High School as students and some of their parents demonstrated against a small group of gay students holding weekly meetings over the lunch hour in a vacant classroom.

In today's lexicon, these are "support" meetings. If you have any doubt about why homosexual students need such meetings, Monday's demonstration should answer it.

Trust me, no French Club ever got picketed.

The gay support group doesn't even have official "club" status but is legally entitled to meet on campus. The group first met on campus last month and has only a few members, although some heterosexual students have also shown up for the discussions.

The organized opposition surfaced in the form of a competing student group calling itself Future Good Boys of America. But this isn't a "guy" thing; many of the protesters also were girls.

Almost always when a minority group is being hassled, the hasslers couch it in other terms. Landlords and restaurateurs 30 years ago didn't discriminate against blacks; they were just exercising their proprietor's right not to serve them or rent to them.

At Fountain Valley High, the protesters may want us to believe that the issue isn't homosexuality, but letting the gay and lesbian group have a special classroom over the lunch hour.

Let us give short shrift to that charade. Having once been a high school student myself, I can't think of a "principle" less likely to bother students than one involving the use of classroom space.

No, let's call this for what it is: an anti-gay bias.

To underscore that, a Future Good Boy spokesman said his group was formed to promote "strong morals" at the school. Wink, wink.

Why the Future Good Boys don't demonstrate against those darned homosexuals sitting next to them during regular class time is unknown.

But let's talk morality. One presumes that if the young spokesman were questioned about what constitutes morality, he'd eventually get around to discussing the choices we all have to make about our conduct. Indeed, in the absence of making choices, it's hard to discuss morality or immorality at all.

I would ask him whether he thinks his gay classmates have chosen to be. If he answered affirmatively, I'd ask him why, in the most peer pressure-driven environment known to man (junior-senior high school), someone would opt to be something as unpopular as a homosexual. If he answered negatively, I'd ask him how he can call them immoral for something they had no choice over.

I'd then ask him what moral choices he makes in his life that, apart from being gay or straight, distinguishes him from those facing his homosexual classmates. Cheating on exams? Lying to your parents? Drinking at a party?

I might even offer to give him 50 bucks for every one he could come up with.

Well, I already know where the argument would sputter and die: The Future Good Boy would argue that homosexuality is immoral. Period, end of discussion.

Let them go meet at a local pizza parlor, he'd say.

He's right. The gay/lesbian group, known as the Fountain Valley Student Alliance, could go meet in a pizza parlor. It's just that there's no reason why it should .

I've known and talked to many gay people over the years. It isn't unusual for them to mention that they considered suicide at some point in their lives--usually during their teen-age years when their sexual identity formed. A spokesman for a national gay political group cites a federal study that says gay and lesbian teens are two or three times more likely to consider suicide than heterosexual students.

Here's my message to all Future Good Boys:

Future is the operative word for you guys. For the present, you aren't being very good at all.

Not to see that homosexual teens face unique problems is to be foolish. To line the streets of Fountain Valley to protest their use of an empty classroom to discuss those problems would be ludicrous if it weren't so mean-spirited.

And, finally, if you want to promote strong morals at your school, why not ask the non-gays who have attended alliance meetings why they went.

Why not sit in on a meeting or two yourselves?

Surely you've heard that you can learn a lot more inside a classroom than you can out on the street.

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