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HIgh School Student told to go back into the closet


Guest Dabeagle

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It sounds as though the school's main beef was with stuff being posted on YouTube and other social media. It would be interesting to know whether this same principal was clamping down on any other students for what they might be posting on internet sites.

I don't follow the logic of not identifying the school. This being the internet age, someone will undoubtedly figure it out and publicize the name of the school (and the name of the principal).

R

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I can understand the decision not to name the school. Yes, the information will probably get out (someone else at the school will recognise him and release the name, if no one else does), but he didn't name the school before when using social media, so he's being consistent.

I agree that the school should be named, but I'm happy that he decided he didn't want to be the one to do so. That's his decision and we should respect it. That doesn't mean we have to agree that the school shouldn't be named....

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Go to http://www.towleroad.../02/wallis.html and scroll down to the bottom of the comments, then go to page 3. Near the top there's a list of sites that show Austin Wallis at Lutheran High North (LHN) in Houston, TX. He was an active freshman student at the school and is pictured on the student newsletter. His Junior State of America (JSN) fundraising page is there with a goal of $250 and $0 raised so far. Fat chance of that ever increasing!

The principal, Dallas Lusk, is also identified with links to his LHN school website. What amused me is there's a link to one of his SoundCloud playlists. Check out the album on that playlist: 'Creature of Habit' by Bruneaux. :ohmy:

My guess is that LHN will pull all of this as soon as they realize their anonymity has been breached.

Colin :icon_geek:

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In this first of his YouTube videos he identifies himself as living in Texas and going to a really small Christian school.

I think this hits the nail on the head 'a really small minded Christian school', sorry my error, 'a really small Christian school.'

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I think this boy is extraordinarily thoughtful and caring. I am so impressed that he is making this effort 'give back' and help others work through the same passage. 'I feel so light,' he says toward the end, and he makes me feel encouraged that there are other gentle, caring souls like him out there who may themselves become reassured and supported by what he has done with this video.

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I want to say something about the (so far limited) media coverage of this episode. Both the Huffington Post and the towleroad blog post make it sound like Austin was attending a mainstream high school, although if you read carefully there is reference to it being a "private" school.

Nowhere is it actually stated that this is a small Christian school. That, however, is a vital bit of information.

The current thinking in many conservative Christian circles is a grudging admission that being gay is not a choice, but that even so the orientation must not be acted upon. In other words, the gay person is told, "maybe you can't help who you have feelings for, but you can control your behavior." The gay person is to stay celibate and not act on his feelings. It is compared, ridiculously in my view, to a person with a weight problem refraining from eating.

I can picture the conversation with the principal. He would have told Austin that his behavior is contrary to the school's understanding of Biblical teaching, and that his extensive celebration of it on YouTube cannot be tolerated while he is a student there. So if he wants to continue as a student there he must take down the Internet stuff.

It seems like the same kind if discussion that would occur if a student at the Christian school was running a YouTube channel advocating atheism, or devil worship, or terrorism. From the school's perspective it would've been the same.

That's why I remarked earlier that Austin was doomed not to be a good fit at this school, given the state of conservative Christian beliefs about homosexuality.

But my main point is that the media coverage of this episode is misleading when it omits the true context.

R

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For the record, I consider myself to be a Christian.

For the record, I send my two boys to a Christian private school.

Neither is being indoctrinated to hate or villify. One boy has indicated in the past that he considers himself to be agnostic. Both are being taught to care for others.

Please don't stereotype.

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This is the second time you've checked me. I don't like it and ask you to do the same as you ask me. Respect other peoples opinions as much as your own.

Further if you can't see or admit that most of the current homophobia is perpetrated by religious zealots then you are not too observant. It is and will continue to be so until some sort of check and balance is put in place to neutralise them. Its a point that cannot be argued. True, too, is the fact that many, if not most, faith schools do in fact indoctrinate children with their own firmly held and often skewed view on what is moral and what is not. Homosexuals, which again cannot be denied, are their favourite whipping post. They choose parts of scripture that suit their skewed views and choose to totally ignore other scripts that would, in fact, condemn themselves.

That to me is the end of the argument and a factual statement of the current climate in which we all try to live.

Rick

Hi, Rick,

I've always acknowledged that religious zealots are a major source of homophobia. I just have an objection to statements that imply that all religous people and organisations are sources of homophobia. The faith-based school my boys go to does not teach homophobia. The church that I belong to does not teach homophobia (though some congregations within that church do). Indeed, at last years first Pride Cup in one of the local football competitions, the local church minister was called on to speak before the game to talk about tolerance and acceptance of gay people. Not a bit of religious-based homophobia in sight....

I also haven't been objecting to the large amounts of anti-religious rhetoric that has been posted here at AD. As you've said, I respect other peoples opinions and have generally been quiet and not responded. It was only the comment that implied that the school my boys go should not existing that triggered my simple statements.

Your experiences regarding faith-based schools may be true in your country. I'm just pointing out that it's not universally true. It's certainly not the general experience I've encountered here in Australia. Apart from the Catholic education system, most faith-based schools here in Australia take a low-key approach to religious matters. Yes, there are religious classes, but religion is generally not pushed. Indeed, at some schools you would barely realise that they were owned by religious organisations.

As an aside, I still remember the Australian survey from a few years ago that indicated that out of the different Christian denominations, the Catholics were the ones most in support of homosexuality. From memory, it some less than a quarter of them it was roughly a third of them that considered homosexuality to be immoral. As the Catholics are the largest Christian denomination in Australia, that gives support to the view that most religious people in Australia do not consider homosexuality to be immoral. I can't prove that point (I can't remember the details for the Anglican and Uniting Church, the next two largest denominations), but I believe it to be true. Certainly, the majority of the Uniting Church (of which I am a member) supports homosexuals.

I've said what I wanted to say, and hopefully have done so with respect.

EDIT TO ADD:

I found the survey (from 2005) and my memory was wrong. It was only a third of Catholics that considered homosexuality to be immoral. A figure that, by coincidence, matched the overall population. I wouldn't mind knowing what a similar survey done today would show :smile:

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I'm not sure that it's true that in this country most homophobia stems from religious teachings. Perhaps that's true, but I think here, cultural concerns are very involved. Whether the cultural aspects began with religious teachings, well, that's a harder question to answer.

What's more important, to me, is where homophobic views come from today. It's been widely reported that in our schools here, not just many but most kids these day are not homophobic. They accept gay kids as simply another strata of their society, another variation of the whole. I have no idea if the demographics would be the same in religion-based schools. I hope it would. I hope they've made the same strides toward acceptance and tolerance than have been made in secular schools.

Teaching hatred in any school should be something we should have stopped doing.

C

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Rick, I think we're largely in agreement. I personally see two root causes for homophobia:

  • Religion
  • Ignorance and Fear (the two go together)

However, while one major source of homophobia is religion, the corollary that religion begets homophobia is not true. There are non-homophobic religions and religious groups. As I indicated in my previous post, the Uniting Church in Australia (the third largest Christian denomination) is not homophobic, though there is a sub-group within that organisation that I would consider homophobic (despite their protestations that they're not). There are similar denominations in other countries, such as the United Church in Canada, and parts of the Anglican Church in the USA.

The other major source of homophobia that I can see is simply ignorance and fear. It's the reason young teenage males are more likely to be homophobic -- they're afraid that homosexuality means weakness. As they grow up, they learn otherwise, and the levels of homophobia in the group decreases.

I would also put down ignorance and fear as the reason that survey in Australia indicated that 25% of male atheists (those who said they had no religion) still considered homosexuality to be immoral. Given that the respondents said they didn't have a religion, it's hard to blame religion for that attitude. I believe it's simply ignorance (the graph of homophobia against education levels supports that argument).

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Here's glsen's snapshots for the 29 states for which they exist, showing summary information from their National School Climate Survey about harassment and assaults in schools:

http://glsen.org/statesnapshots

To sum it up, the amount of kids that report verbal harassment is around 85% nationally. About 9,000 students participated in the study.

Here's a PDF of the executive summary: http://www.glsen.org/sites/default/files/NSCS_ExecSumm_2013_DESIGN_FINAL.pdf

You can download the PDF of the full report here: http://www.glsen.org/sites/default/files/2013%20National%20School%20Climate%20Survey%20Full%20Report.pdf

And here is the website for the survey: http://glsen.org/learn/research/national-school-climate-survey

I think it's really easy to say "it's getting better" after seeing lots of positivity on the news and in the media. The truth is a bit rougher. Just browsing the state snapshots, I'd say that the east and west coasts fare a bit better than the flyover states, but we still have a long way to go before it really gets better for kids in school.

I also think it's really easy to pin this on the homophobic conservatives and the fag-baiting Christians. We do like to keep things in their little boxes. But I think it's a lot more gray than being able to categorize things so simplistically.

I'm glad this kid isn't in that school anymore.

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:hug: No problems, Rick. I'm fully aware of the problems that religion has, and still does, cause. I'm also aware of the many good things that religion has done. I make no attempt to try to see if one balances out the other -- that's futile and, in my opinion, stupid.

You'll never have a problem from me with complaining about the ills of religion. I'm not blind -- I can see them. I just get upset when the brush stroke is too broad... :smile:

As for why I'm religious, there are multiple reasons but one of the top ones (since I have a strong mathematics background) is that I can't view Euler's Identity without wondering about a universe where a simple equation of the five most important mathematical constants, combined with the core mathematical operations of addition, multiplication, exponentiation and equality, each used exactly once, comes out so beautifully.

Euler_Identity.png?zoom=1.5&resize=510%2

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Changeing the direction slightly:

I've said this before but there should be a set of values set out to either qualify or disqualify anyone who seeks public office. It should be stringent and rigorously enforced.

Rick

I think I see where you are coming from, but who gets to set or change that Set of Values? Me? You? The old biddy down the street? Public opinion? We know how fickle the latter can be.

------------------

There is a question fundamentalists and zealots of all religious persuasions and none never ask themselves: What if I am Wrong?

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It is quite possible that religion becomes ingrained to such a degree in many people that it becomes futile to argue against those who have faith in it.

Exposure to alternative, rational arguments for non-belief may offer varying degrees of release from dogmatism and bigotry. However, the underlying faith itself may persist depending on the indoctrination and acceptance of the explanations for the meaning of life, or projections for an afterlife.

There can be little objection to such personal belief in a faith, but freedom of belief must be accompanied by freedom from that belief being imposed on others, if we are to avoid demands to submit ourselves to authoritarian tyrannies.

Atheists are often accused of imposing their non-belief on others, but really, that accusation arises from the religious still applying the rules of dogma to the atheist's non-belief in any deity. The atheist in the purest form has no dogma because he has no belief. If dogma exists then there is belief and it is not really correct to call such a person an atheist.

For this reason you may see many people now referring to themselves as non-believers. It's a little awkward, but if we think of them as not being subjected to a dogma it may assist us to understand their position of not being subjected or answerable to concepts of gods.

For many people this will be a scary proposition; for others it will be a liberation from the demands of ancient texts and disciplines, including organised religions.

If, as some would say, we are facing a confrontation between, and amongst, religious faiths, and those who have, for one reason or another, rejected religious notions, then let us hope we can be enlightened enough to accommodate the differences without returning to the forces of a new and terrifying crusade against heretics and non-believers on the one hand, and the believers on the other.

We may also have to wait out the conclusion of horrifying confrontations in hope that some of us survive without the dogma. Of course, that will mean that we will be faced with the demanding, if not scary, proposition of understanding anthropology in psychological terms of the evolution of our cognition.

This is scary because it might be easy to fall prey to a Darwinian model of survival of the most fit "id", or even the most dominant ego, rather than providing our species with the promise of human compassion; as stardust in search of evolving love.

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Isn't it strange that in some cultures, a nanny is used to raise a child till he's old enough to be shipped off to boarding school, and yet, for the most part, the views and sensibilities of the parents are those he adopts, rather than those of the nanny.

You're describing me, there, Cole and yes, I have inherited a lot of 'views and sensibilities' from my mother - and although I saw so little of my father in my childhood I didn't even know what his views were, I've still ended up with similar political views to him. Weird, isn't it?!

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Even though it appears that I am in a distinct minority here, I want to say a word or two in favor of churches and Christianity.

My church has just under 500 formal members, and there are a number of others who regularly attend services and participate in activities without formally joining. It's a mid-size church, smaller than some really big ones around here but bigger than many others.

We place a high priority on community service as well as worldwide outreach. We have a very active child daycare center that serves about 110 children, from infants through kindergarten age, each day, including hot meals. Our "Kid's Hope" program matches adult mentors one-on-one with at-risk elementary school children in the area for support and guidance in dealing with (for example) neglectful and abusive home environments. As a church we direct 10% of our revenues directly to mission uses, as well as holding separate fundraisers for specific programs. We sponsor trips each year with teams of doctors, nurses, and other helpers to one of the poorest areas in the Dominican Republic, where we have helped in building a school that has helped hundreds of children there. We sponsor a missionary in Bengla Desh who runs a shelter for homeless or abandoned girls in the area. Each year a group of men travels to Mexico to build a house for an indigent family there. This weekend I will be traveling with another group of men to work on the foundation for an orphanage that we are building on donated land south of Tijuana. We also sponsor missionaries in such far-flung areas as Egypt (where Christians are heavily persecuted), Nigeria, and China.

Closer to home, we regularly feed the homeless with meals cooked in our church kitchen, and supply food, clothing, and other necessities to those in need. We constantly remind ourselves that we must not focus on making our internal church life more comfortable so much as making the world better.

Of course we are imperfect people and do a lot of stuff that is wrong and a lot of stuff that is stupid. But we try to have out hearts in the right place. Every time I go to Mexico I am humbled by the abundance that I have back home. It gives me immense gratitude for how I am blessed.

All of this is so far removed from the extreme stereotype (if not caricature) of the greedy and unprincipled televangelist that it's hard to find words to describe the distance.

Paul wrote in Romans 13:9,

The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Maybe that thought is 2,000 years old, but it works for me.

R

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