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01/30/2007

Deerfield High follow-up: We said, now she says, so we say

by Jeremy Hooper

So you might remember last week when we refuted the logic of Laurie Higgins, a staff member at Illinois' Deerfield High School who went on a Christian radio program to denounce the gay-accepting policies of the nation's public schools. Well, today we received this response from Ms. Higgins herself:

Hi Jeremy,

I am deeply discouraged by the epithetic rhetoric I read in some of the blog entries regarding my Moody interview. I am, however, even more discouraged by the misunderstanding of my arguments by you and others.

I wrote a lengthy response to clarify my arguments, but friends on both sides of the issue recommended I not send it because the evidence suggests it will not result in civil discourse.

I do, however, want to make two factual corrections:

1. I did not, as one responder stated, have anything to do with bringing an ex-gay speaker to Deerfield High School last year.

2. In my Moody interview, I did not reference “drug dealers” as you twice stated. Rather, I referenced “drug use.” Furthermore, I was not comparing gays and lesbians to drug users, but, rather, suggesting that broadly defining safety as the absence of disapproval, which many schools implicitly do, would by logical extension preclude administrators and faculty members from expressing disapproval of any conduct in which kids engage, for to do so would likely make those kids feel bad.

If you would ever like to communicate privately, I would be more than happy to do so as long as it’s off the record. I need to protect both my emotional equilibrium and that of my youngest daughter who was terribly hurt by the name-calling in one of the blog responses.

Sincerely,
Laurie Higgins

And since we are considering this her official response (with further private conversations kept off-record), here is our reply:

Hey there,

First off, the only "blog entries" I have made in regards to this situation is
the one original response to your interview (and I have also responded to folks in the comments section of the entry). Those who comment, gay or anti-gay, are free to say what they want (with the exception of extreme vulgarity or speech that we deems too inflammatory). If you are going to respond to me, you must only respond to my words. They are the only ones for which I will vouch.

Secondly, your assumption that your lengthy response "will not result in civil discourse" is offensive to me. Civil discourse means that you say your piece, I say mine, and we go back and forth until one of us tired of it. While we use an irreverent tone at G-A-Y, we try our damnedest to refrain from making personal attacks or insulting the character of our opposition. In fact, there was one time we made an "obesity joke" because it was just WAY TOO EASY. That out-of-character jab caused this writer to lose sleep for a few nights!

Third -- I have posted the one response that has come to me from a certifiable Deerfield alum. Again -- I can't vouch for its accuracy. More Deerfield alumni have said they were going to comment (a few of which were on your side), but those have yet to come forward.

Next -- you're actually right that I made the mistake of using the word "dealers" instead of "users" in two instances. Honest mistake, and I've now corrected it. However, I 100% stand by my thought that you deliberately mentioned gays and drug users in the same breath (even if unconsciously). I fully understand what you are asserting, which, to put it in less verbose terms, is that schools are saying you can't condemn homosexuality because such disapproval would hurt a kid's feelings. However, that doesn't negate the fact that you ARE undeniably juxtaposing a condemnation of drug use with a condemnation of homosexuality. For those of us who view homosexuality as an in-born, fixed, perfectly acceptable part of human normalcy, yet view heroin as a vile social ill, we can't help but be offended by the comparison! It should also be noted that you made a similar comparison in a piece you wrote on the Chicago Tribune's "Voice of the People" blog, wherein you stated: "Principled opposition to homosexuality no more embodies illegitimate discrimination than does principled opposition to polyamory or adult consensual incest." Homosexuality is just a bird of a much different feather than those things with which you on the other side of the issue like to link it.

Lastly, I'm sorry that your youngest daughter was hurt by comments made by some of our readers. We've already said our piece on commenting policies, so there is no need to repeat that. However, by putting yourself out in the public as an advocate for your "team" in this so-called "culture war," you have opened yourself up for response.
Trust us, we understand how much negative response can hurt! But Ms. Higgins, with all due respect, you say in your radio appearance, "I think we need to speak out and not let fear compel us into silence." We could not agree more, which is why we fearlessly responded to what we found as very offensive rhetoric.
But we do want you to know that we do not for a second believe that you hate anyone. We just want you (and all of our opposition) to realize that the hate our community faces is an inevitable byproduct from the sort of non-accepting words that you have put forth.

Best,
Jeremy Hooper

Deerfield High students, you might want to look elsewhere for a G-SA sponsor [G-A-Y]
**For those who missed the audio of Ms. Higgins' radio appearance, it can be found at the link (10/22 show; her peice begins around 10:30)

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Your thoughts

When are schools going to start focusing on what's important here? As far as I've seen schools have bigger problems with over crowding, violence, and lack of qualified teachers. There will always be Gay students. (Even though the Christian front would like to exterminate us) We will always be in the classroom. I learned very early on it was not okay to be out. Watching everyday in jr high while girls avoided the one out lesbian girl in my class. Yet her being a lesbian didn't change the fact that she needed an education.
And when you spend all your money not educating the youth of tomorrow on true life, and instead give them the Joan Cleaver version of the world you are putting them a step behind the graded curve of the world.
So tell us how it is okay for us to ignore the truth and get a version fed to us by the organized religions and in 20 years don't complain when your daughter and her friends aren't capable of working in the real world.

Posted by: m.k. | Jan 30, 2007 5:39:25 PM

I hope that both Ms. Higgins and her daughter watch February's re-airing of "The Principles of Youth" on In the Life on PBS. I just don't see how she could reconcile her views with the reality of that production.

Posted by: drhaber | Jan 31, 2007 1:12:27 PM

The post is good both in regards of knowledge and general awareness. Thanks for the post.

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