Monday, November 8, 2010

Has anyone heard about this? I was on and searching around and found this article. I read the title--and considering ALL of the terrible incidents of this last month--I was shocked that this was once again coming up in the media... (I guess that’s my good old fashioned optimism that schools were going to take action against hate crimes and form anti-bullying policies in response to recent events).

An Arkansas school board member, a member of the Department of Education, Clint McCance, made several appalling anti-gay statements that were posted on his Facebook page. Some of the comments can be found on the link. I don’t feel that they should ever be posted again on another blog, so I’m not going to post them, but I encourage everyone to read the entire article. Mr. McCance said he will resign from the school board.

Many of the recent hate-crimes and publicity surrounding these incidents have made school officials want to take action to form anti-bullying policies. It is very evident that LGBTQ youth need civil rights protection, but is this the right--is this the only solution?

Bullying and abuse violates individuals’ federally protected civil rights. Many people have discussed that schools need to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for harassment and bullying in response to McCance and in response to last month’s tragedies. So you may wonder... What has been the response from trans activists--and the LGBTQ Community, what is their next move?

From Gender JUST news, they have a different approach and reaction to anti-bullying policies--stating that anti-bullying policies would be an oversimplified solution to the problem-- and that the problem lies within the culture of thought in the school system itself. Below is a statement from Gender JUST.

“The real bullies we face in our schools take the form of systemic violence perpetrated by the school system itself: a sex education that ignores queer youth and a curriculum that denies our history, a militarized school district with cops in our schools, a process of privatization which displaces us, increasing class sizes which undermine our education and safety. The national calls to end the violence against queer youth completely ignore the most violent nature of our educational experience.”

“Our greatest concern is that there is a resounding demand for increased violence as a reaction, in the form of Hate Crime penalties, which bolster the Prison- Industrial-Complex and Anti-bullying measures which open the door to zero-tolerance polices and reinforce the school-to-prison pipeline. At Gender JUST, we call for a transformative and restorative response that seeks solutions to the underlying issues, takes into account the circumstances surrounding violence, and works to change the very culture of our schools and communities.”

The response from the article we were assigned in class (from the Sylvia Rivera Law Project) discussed demands of the activists from Trans Day of Action 2009. Their response is similar to Gender JUST in that they both disagree that the solution to end Queer youth violence rests in zero-tolerance anti-bullying or harassment policies. Below is a statement from the SRLP website.

“An increase in hate crime laws will not solve the problem but will give increased power to the state to put more people in jail. Instead we call for a unified effort for all of us to address the root causes of why these incidents happen. As a society that seeks social justice we seek to find ways of preventing attacks on TGNC people by building strong and knowledgeable communities and using transformative justice to hold people accountable.”

School officials might want to ask specific communities their opinion as to what policies should be implemented to give every child a safe environment to learn and live.

I also want to remind ourselves--that we all must take personal responsibility and accountability for what we write in blogs, facebook, texts, emails, and in what we say in person.

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