Monday, June 14, 2010
The Hudson City School District, where I have taught for 14 years, has decided not to remain neutral on the issue of sexuality. Instead, they have chosen to be very vocal in their support of crossing gender lines. This is obvious, as we have now made history and the news, not for grades or sports, but for allowing two guys to be crowned Prom King and Queen.
The local Registar Star reports:
The Hudson High School prom made history this past Saturday when openly gay best friends were named prom king and queen.
Seniors Charlie Ferrusi and Timmy Howard won their respective crown and tiara by a landslide Saturday and said the support they received from their peers and school administration has been fun and humbling.
“It’s a really big step for Hudson but also for the gay community in general,” Howard said Wednesday. “To have this happen in our city is pretty exciting.”
In 2008 Augie Abatecola ran and won the race for Hudson prom queen but he was denied the crown by school officials. This time around Ferrusi and Howard decided to run their plan by advisors and Principal Steven Spicer beforehand.
The school officials said they wouldn’t interfere with the student body’s vote and gave the boys their blessing.
“We’re proud of all our students,” said Spicer Wednesday. “They know they have the right to pick whoever they want. It was exciting for them and it was exciting for Charlie and Tim.”
One of the hardest parts of the experience, Ferrusi and Howard said, was deciding who would run for king and who would be queen. Both added they had the full support of their families.
Ferrusi and Howard’s crowning was appropriately timed, as Hudson will hold its first ever gay pride parade on Sunday, June 20. They said they plan on riding down Warren Street in the back of a truck with their crowns and homemade sashes.
Ferrusi has been involved in the event planning committee for the Hudson Pride celebration and has organized a large group of gay, lesbian and straight teens to walk together in the parade under the banner of “Future Pride.”
The event’s head organizer, well-known drag queen Trixie Starr, said having Ferrusi participate has been special and what they accomplished at the prom is bigger than the boys may even realize.
“It’s a brave new world,” Starr said. “It’s a brave new Hudson.”
Read the full article here.
The story is making its rounds in national news as well. Among the many who covered it were FoxNews and The Huffington Post. I have heard that talk show hosts, including Ellen Degeneres, may be interested in hearing from the boys.
I heard about the so-called history-making when a good friend and parent of a young student in our district called me to tell me the story was on the front page of the newspaper. This brings me to my issue. How is it that public schools feel justified in taking positions that they are well-aware are controversial, positions that are the very antithesis of the values of many family and community members? People do not send their children to school so that adults can teach them that it is acceptable that a boy be crowned queen while a girl is overlooked. They don't teach their children the values they hold dear so those values can be peeled away little by little by educators. And unfortunately this is what many parents are seeing--and they don't like it.
As an employee, I believe I not only represent the district, but it represents me as well, and I am very concerned about how I am represented. Blurring gender lines does not represent who I am or what I believe in--and our schools should remain neutral at the very least on this issue. As you will see in the embedded video of the press conference, the principal compared this issue to what Martin Luther King fought for. Not by any stretch of the imagination. One cannot compare granting rights to Blacks to allowing gay friends to be crowned king and queen at a public school function. It is an insult to even make the comparison. I did not choose to be Black (although I surely would have). I did not choose to run as a White person in some competition. While I do not believe anybody should be hated for any reason, trying to make a connection between the color of skin God gave me and someone's "sexual preference" is so far-fetched it's absurd--and Dr. King was not talking about sexual preference in his "I Have a Dream" speech.
The principal said that he wouldn't deny a boy being queen because he didn't have a vote. It was the students who would vote. Since the students voted for the couple, he said it was all right. The problem with his rationale is that nobody gets to vote on gender. The kids should never have been given the opportunity to vote on this. Are we now judging the appropriateness of actions based on the votes of minors who are supposed to receive sound wisdom from adults? Students would also vote to bring various and sundry illegal things into the school if we let them vote on it. That's where adults come in. They don't get that vote. The bottom line is that Charlie and Tim are boys. No vote can alter that. Allowing students to vote against girls to choose a boy for queen is ridiculous, and it sends the wrong message. It is an attack on the traditional family, and sets the stage for more aggressive agenda-heavy antics. What will be next? Will I be expected to incorporate a two daddies or two mommies lesson into my curriculum?
Principal Spicer spoke a lot about tolerance and diversity. I can appreciate a good conversation about respect and acceptance. I believe everyone should treat others the way they want to be treated. These two are no exception. I am not in favor of mistreating the young men. I have no problem with the boys themselves. Charlie was in my seventh grade English class. I taught him, taught his brother, and worked with his mother. He is a decent, bright, polite young man. But he's a young man, as is Tim. They are not girls.
No, this is not personal. This is about principle. It's about not forcing an agenda on our students. It's about respecting the parents of the entire student body. Had the school responsibly considered this, it would have stayed far away from this and just stuck to Anatomy 101 and allowed a girl to be queen, for she is, after all, the only gender that qualifies. But then we wouldn't have made history, would we? And we wouldn't be praised all over the media either, right? And isn't it true we wouldn't be able to compare the Civil Rights Movement to crowning two boys Prom King and Queen? I don't know about the historical aspect of this, but I do know we just rung a bell that cannot be unrung.
Hudson, NY will hold its first gay pride parade on...Father's day, of all days--and the boys will be participating with their Hudson High School Prom King and Queen garb. Indeed, these are interesting times in which we're living.
Because I work in this district, and because I must stand on principle, I have to follow what my conscience dictates. So I respectfully and professionally emailed our principal and superintendent. I wrote:
Despite the praise that I hear is being heaped upon the HCSD regarding the selection of this year’s prom King and “Queen,” as an employee of the district, I want to voice my concern.
I was informed of this through a phone call from a parent of a student in our district who read about it in the newspaper. Clearly, it was the administration’s call to make, and you made it. However, for my own conscience’s sake, and in respect to parents and community members who are not in favor of a school embracing this agenda, I felt it necessary to send an email. I view silence as consent. I, therefore, wanted my opposition to this decision to be expressed. The situation is over and done, but having just learned of it, I want to say that it is my desire that our school would, at the very least, remain neutral on these so-called gender issues, in respect for employees’ beliefs, our parents, and our students first—some of whose parents are concerned that the stands they take morally within their homes are being undermined within the public school.
Again, it’s over and done, and obviously it wasn’t my decision to make, but it is my hope that you will take my thoughts into consideration. The newspaper clearly stated that Charlie and Tim are viewed as having done something bigger than they realize, to have opened doors of some sort. I guess that leaves me to ponder what is behind that door, and what will be next.
It is out of respect for your positions as administrators that I bring my concerns to you, and I hope that you receive this in the spirit that it is intended. Thank you.
I haven't heard back from the administrators, and I'm not sure I will, but it's important to speak up regardless. I needed to go on record, to take a stand for what's right. Teaching is a challenging profession, and kids can drive teachers to the brink of insanity, but they are still worth fighting for. And the agenda that is being poured out upon them is alarming, to say the least.
The first video below is the video that includes comments from the two boys and Charlie's mom. Following that is the press conference the administrators held.