In another 20 years, gay rights will not be the issue it is today. It will not be the issue it is today because kids like Graeme Taylor understand that gay kids are no different from straight kids and the homophobia in schools is not only unacceptable, it's deadly. Taylor also understands the difference between encouraging hate and encouraging understanding. In his amazing speech above, he takes the Howell, Michigan school board to task for disciplining a teacher on the day students wore purple to school for supporting gay students against bullies.
In reprimanding Michigan high school teacher Jay McDowell for telling a student his anti-gay comments were unacceptable and having him leave the class, administrators said his actions "could be construed as teacher-to-student bullying; ironic of the anti-bullying message of the day. Your demonstration of intolerance stands in contradistinction of the anti-bullying message of the day."
What the nine-year Howell High School teacher McDowell did was confront student Dan Glowacki's belief that wearing a Confederate flag belt buckle — to many, a sign of racist support — was the equivalent of people wearing purple in support of LGBT youth. For that, McDowell was suspended for a day without pay; he's appealing. But McDowell, who's filing a grievance contesting the district's decision, says the school district's report, which blames the incident squarely on the teacher, is a "complete fabrication" of what transpired.
"You disciplined them in anger under the guise of harassment and bullying because you opposed their religious belief and were offended by it," the reprimand letter continues. "The students were causing no disruption to the educational process" — a clear nod to students' First Amendment protections, which are limited in schools only by disruption of normal school activity. Part of McDowell's punishment calls for him to attend First Amendment protection training.
To which Graeme Taylor, son of a teacher and Ann Arbor high school student, calls BS: