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01/20/2011

A Valley Stream's denied bridge

by Jeremy Hooper

South HsIt's always annoying when a gay-straight alliance is unfairly denied by a school's higher-up. But when said higher-up slights the very reason why the GSA needs to exist in the first place, it gets worse:

A principal at a Long Island high school has blocked a group of LGBT and straight students from forming a gay-straight alliance at Valley Stream South High School. The principal, Maureen Henry, denied the request after three students -- with the support of several hundred of their classmates -- submitted a proposal to form an official school club. The students had been working on the proposal since October, and tell the Long Island Herald that they followed all proper protocols and procedures.

Still, Principal Henry denied their request. And here's an added insult to injury: when the students told Principal Henry about rampant anti-gay slurs, including use of the word "faggot" in the school, the Principal said it wasn't that big of a deal.

"Principal Henry told the students that she too called people 'faggots' when she was young and didn’t mean anything bad by it,"
says a press release from LIGALY, the Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth organization.
Long Island Principal Blocks Gay-Straight Alliance, Says Gay Slurs Aren't Really that Offensive [Change.org]

Uhm, wait a sec: She actually said that? A principal? Of a public school? In 2011? That's just weird.

But ya know, they're funny things, words. Oftentimes, the weight of them isn't determined by the person who speaks or writes or transmits them in some other way, but rather by the individual who is slighted behind the writ large slur. That's true for current day students whose f-word abuse can put an LGBT classmate into a dangerous funk. And it was also true in Maureen Henry's past pupil days, when she may have been able to loosen her lips and walk away unscathed -- but the "sissy kid" in the back of the room was surely not as lucky.

**

*Most excellent update: District approves Gay-Straight Alliance at South High [LI Herald]

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