Friday, May 22, 2009

Silencing Harvey Milk

There's an effort in California to have May 22nd, Harvey Milk's birthday, noted as "Harvey Milk Day" in the state. Not a holiday, but simply a named remembrance of someone who was a tireless worker for social justice as well as the first openly gay man elected to public office in the state. (The governor doesn't agree.) Of course, Harvey Milk was the subject of a recent biopic, and was a victim of assassination.

In Ramona, CA, a rural, conservative town in the hills of San Diego County, a student who wanted to do a presentation on Milk was forbidden to present it to her classmates.
Jones was told she could not talk about Milk because it violated the school district's strict policy on "family life and sex education." Days later, Jones was told she could only give the presentation during recess, and students would be required to get parental permission before they could attend.

The school's policy stresses that parents will be notified if their children are being exposed to lessons about "human reproductive organs and their functions, processes, or sexually transmitted diseases" as well as "family life, human sexuality, AIDS, or sexually transmitted diseases."

Bonnie Jones, Natalie's mother, called the ordeal "unbelievable" in a press release on Wednesday. "To say my daughter's presentation is 'sex education' because Harvey Milk happened to be gay is completely wrong."
Unfortunately, this makes perfect sense in the current right wing strategy. It has nothing to do with Milk's sexuality, which (aside from the adjective "gay") has nothing to do with his story. It's not about gay marriage, which wasn't even on the radar when he lived. It's nothing explicit about his sex life. It's his act of's OUR act of existence, that the school, and the conservatives, want to eliminate. This is about enforced discrimination.
"Schools that act as if any mention of the existence of gay people is something too controversial or 'sensitive' to discuss are doing a disservice to their students," the ACLU's Elizabeth Gill said in a statement.
Indeed. No newspaper or television is free of "teh gay". Will and Grace, Queer Eye, the L Word, are all years old. It's not as though kids are unaware that some people are gay. What are they afraid of: Milk's sexuality, or his message of equality and social justice? "My name is Harvey Milk, and I'm here to recruit you!!" was not just a rallying cry for the GLBT community. It was how he brought together a coalition of groups for a progressive agenda in the City.

But they are trying to hide that because he was gay. Because we are gay, they are trying the same thing. Claiming we are too controversial for prime time has been increasing of late. Trying to hide us. To deny us rights, and protections. Do not be silenced. Be Harvey. As he said, “I finally reached the point where I knew I had to become involved or shut up.”. Now it's up to us to be the change we need.

The Day of Decision is Tuesday, May 26th. BE THERE!

1 comment:

James said...

Well stated, my friend.