Pardon my intolerance

A one act play this afternoon in my after-school group.

(12 year-old male student interrupting another student who is doing a video interview about an environmental learning center she visited last year.)

Student: That place is gay!

Teacher: Please don’t interrupt. She’s doing a video. And how can a place be gay?

Student: I just meant it’s happy and stuff – you know.

Teacher: Is that really what you meant? Because it’s not OK to use “gay” as a put down in my room.

Student: It’s gay. It’s happy. Not the other kind. That’s sick, man.

Teacher: What do you mean it’s sick? Being gay is sick?

S: Yeah, of course it is.

T: Would you say that if I was gay?

S: You’re gay?

T: How do you know I’m not?

S: Are you saying you’re gay?

T: Maybe I am. How would you know? Would you still say it’s sick if I was?

S: You’re gay?

T: What if my daughter is gay? What if my friends are gay? What if the parents of one of these other students are gay? What if another student is gay?

(other students becoming very uncomfortable at this point)

S: That’s sick man. Ain’t no gay kids here.
(pause)
Gays are gonna burn in hell.

T: You know, when I was your age, I might have said the something like that. Then I got to know a lot of gay people. My next door neighbors are gay. I have a lot of really good friends who are gay. They’re very good people and it hurts me when people say they’re sick or going to Hell.

S: But gay is a sin. My mom says they’re sick and my preacher say they’re gonna burn in hell.

T: OK that’s enough. You’re free to believe what you want, but I can’t let you talk like that in my classroom. I WON’T let you talk like that.

S: So I can’t say what I want? Are you saying my preacher’s wrong? It’s in the bible.

T: ?

ZING! — He had me there. It IS in the Bible.

We can’t both be right.

(post script – as we were walking down the hall a minute later, I overheard one of the other students say to her friend, “It is in the bible, you know, and I believe the bible”.)

Talk amongst yourselves . . . . .

(p.p.s – I hadn’t heard about the Supreme Court ruling at the time I posted this. They discussed amongst themselves and decided that it IS OK to talk like that — and use even stronger language — at funerals of veterans. I guess it applies to schools as well.)

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