exploring our beliefs, living our values, changing our world

First Principle

The wires are HOT over this issue– A letter from Fred Hammond’s blog via Jim Becker.

Dear members of the Itawamba County School District:
I just read  that the school board in Itawamba County, Mississippi  has decided that a student could not attend her prom in a tuxedo and bring her girlfriend, also a student at the school, because it might be uncomfortable for the other students.  This is not the lesson that should be taught.  It teaches that segregation and hiding our truth is acceptable behavior because integration of our differences and being honest might make someone else uncomfortable.  The lesson that needs to be taught is to embrace our differences be it racial, ethnic, religion, gender, sexual orientation or gender expression.   We live in a pluralist society.  This is the reality of our nation.  We are going to meet someone and most likely several someones in our life time who are not just like us.  Doesn’t it make more sense to teach our children how to live in that reality rather than teaching them to be fearful of the other?  Being uncomfortable is a form of fear and that is no way to live.
Your non-discrimination policy clearly states that your district does not discriminate based “on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age or disability in the provision of educational programs and services or employment opportunities and benefits.”  If this is true then why discriminate against someone whose sexual orientation is different.  
My religion teaches that all people are born with inherent worth and dignity.  All people are entitled to be treated with respect for who they are.  And that includes people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender.  All people are worthy of respect. 
And that includes Constance McMillian. 
Rev. Fred L Hammond
Our Home Universalist Unitarian Church
Ellisville, MS


Comments on: "First Principle" (3)

  1. Here is another letter to the School Board:

    Bob & Betty Spencer
    134 Reynard Drive
    Tupelo, MS 38801
    March 4, 2010

    The Superintendant & Board Members
    Itawamba County School System
    605 S. Cummings Street
    Fulton, MS 38843

    Dear Caretakers of our Youth,

    This letter is about the recent publicity that reports your policy of denying young men and young women their God-given right to be who they are if they happen to have an emotional preference for the same gender. In the instance of Constance McMillen and her friend, you propose to forbid them from participating in that high school rite of passage, the April Prom. Reportedly the reason is so as to not “make other students uncomfortable”. In effect, you choose to publicly shame a young couple for being who God created them to be. You choose to deny them a very important life experience to salve the bigotry you perceive in others. I wonder just how many of your Junior and Senior class you have really discussed this with.

    In my years of experience (I’m 71) I have consistently found great variety in God’s creations and I rejoice in that variety. Who are we to criticize what He has done? Surely your school system no longer forbids left-handed children from being left handed; that is how God made them. Why would you then deny His wisdom when He created human beings who do not have the same preferences as you do? This issue of gender preference is real; it is not a choice they have made, it is the way God made them. Please, do not cast them from the flock for being who they are.

    Please, all of you in the position to make decisions about this issue and this case, step back from your conditioned responses and take some time to really think and open your mind prayerfully. Let yourself discover whether you should condemn what God has done. These two young women deserve justice, not prejudice. This nation, “under God” promises “Liberty and Justice for all.” Liberty and Justice for ALL.

    God Bless you that you may do right.
    Bob Spencer

  2. Amy Hinton with Safe Schools writes:

    When I was at Ole Miss in the GSA (Gay/Straight Alliance), we had our first “Second Chance Prom” for college kids. We had a good number to show up for the even… some came from Alabama and South Mississippi.

    Anyway, point being, PFLAG-Laurel (Jenny, myself and others who volunteer), if ACLU/MSSC is planning to host a prom for high school age students, we are considering to be there as chaperone/volunteers for the event. My plan to was discuss the specifics with Sarah (MS Safe Schools) at our meeting on Tuesday.


    On Mar 12, 2010 12:57pm, Knol Aust wrote:
    > I was going to bring this up on the call… They organized one last year, and literally just confirmed this info for the second one (at 10am there were no specifics from the ACLU).

    Unity Mississippi is also planning a “Pride Prom” in June as part of our Pride Month activities. We pushed a teaser through our Facebook page today (http://www.facebook.com/msgaypride). It’s something we’ve planned to do since we first discussed organizing Pride. Of course, our vision is to focus more on adults that may have missed their proms for similar reasons or simply want to attend a formal event where they can be themselves.

    See the site for the Safe Schools Coalition, which
    is promoting a ‘Second Chance Prom’ — which I bet we’ll want to support!


  3. Aaron Kerlin said:

    I think that almost everyone who reads this will agree on some basic beliefs about human rights that are widely held the world over.
    -Human rights are an endowment from our creator. Whether you believe your creator to be god or the biolgical process started when the fastest little swimmer met the egg, you posses your rights because you are a human.
    -since human rights come from our creator, and not from a government or other person(s), they cannot be granted or taken by a government or other person(s).
    -if nobody else is around, our human rights are neither decreased or increased, we still have all our human rights intact. even if we are the last person on earth, our human rights would be exactly the same.
    -no person or government can legitimately or justly take away or infringe upon our human rights. To infringe on, deny or prevent exercise of a person’s human rights, (while governments, groups and individuals do this in our imperfedt world) is an act of violence.
    If we accept these statements as truths, we also must accept certain truths as corollary. If we do not accept these statements as truths we accept other truths as corollary.
    If we do not accept that rights are not granted by our creator but are granted by governments, there can be no human rights abuses by governments. If governments have the power to confer rights and take them, any action of the government can be considered just and proper. Most people do believe governments can be guilty of human rights abuses and that the origin of human rights does not reside in governments.
    If a person has all of their human rights, even if nobody else is around, then the existence of a person’s human rights cannot depend on the actions of inactions of others. If human rights do not depend on the actions of others, there is no human right that has to be secured for you by the actions of another person. A person cannot compell another person to do or not do anything as conditional to another person posessing human rights.
    If you agree with the above, you will have to accept also that there is no right of any student to attend a prom, in any dress, with any escort. The prom is an event brought about by another person(s)’s actions, it therefore cannot be a right. To say that the prom is a right, is to say that people’s rights are dependent on another person’s actions to do something to bring rights into existence. Itawamba county has no effect whatsoever on the existence of human rights.
    We really cheapen the existence of human rights when we start to include things that cannot be human rights. There are real people with real rights being violated and prom dates, dress, and attendance is not and never will be one. The school can set the rules for their party, and the students can attend or not, there can be no violation of a right because the captain of the football team and Constance and every other student still have no right to a prom. The judge who determined that constance’s rights were violated seems to think that we have rights, but the existence of our rights depends on other people’s actions. This position is contrary to the belief that our rights exist by virtue of being human.
    Human rights are also not increased or decreased by sexual orientation, Matthew Sheppard was the victim of the ultimate violence, the taking of his life. He was no more violated than anyone else who is brutally murdered, no matter the twisted reasons for the heinous crime. If we make some violence count as being worse, we can also make some violence count less. I guess this is the belief that allows some groups to violate others as being ok. This belief needs to be challenged and rejected if we are ever to get to the place where the inherant worth and dignity of every person is affirmed.

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