â€śParents outraged! Is the Castro an appropriate destination for a second-grade field trip?â€ť
I caught this teaser headline while checking out a recent SF Gate story and got a good laugh. But then I started considering how my community, we LGBTâ€™s, are perceived in the human incubator Iâ€™m so thankful to call home.
The Town School, a highly rated and uber expensive private boyâ€™s school here in Oz is considered inclusive and open minded, but apparently some parents who can afford to send their kids to this prestigious â€śprepâ€ť school are offended that the school took several dozen 7 & 8-year-old boys on a guided, purposeful tour of the Castro.
A handful of parents expressed concern about the appropriateness of taking young boys on a tour like this. One parent, in particular, reached out to SFGate and expressed frustration, anxiety, and confusion concerning the field trip. The complex array of sentiments ranged from disapproval of teachers who told students that the word gay means â€śhappy,â€ť to fears that the Castro community would be unwelcoming to children.
I bet this parent and the others are well intended, scared and even embarrassed that they are afraid of their offspring being exposed to what theyâ€™re probably already used to seeing in every form of media on a daily basis. I know Iâ€™d be protective of my children if I had them. I certainly am when taking my nephews and nieces on various trips to The Russian River or even to local street fairs. But I doubt Iâ€™d try and hide my kids from exposure to human beings who are different than me.
One of the greatest traumas of my childhood was when I was 13, and an 18-year-old college student at Stanford asked me to go out for a burger with him. My mother chose to have him arrested for possibly being a child molester. His life was ruined, and my sexuality was compromised for decades due to shame and fear of myself being arrested and becoming a card-carrying sex offender.
The man leading the Town Hall studentsâ€™ tour took the boys by The Pink Triangle Memorial Park, where pylons rise above the ground in remembrance of the estimated 15,000 gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders who were persecuted, imprisoned and killed during and after the Nazi regime. A few other stops on the tour included the wildly colored Hope for the World Cure Mural, a pictorial depiction of the AIDS epidemic; the Human Rights Campaign Action Center, local headquarters for a civil rights organization promoting fairness for LGBT Americans; and Harvey Milkâ€™s camera shop, which the former gay activist and pioneering politician once lived above.
Iâ€™m troubled by anyone who exhibits prejudice or discrimination, and yet demands anonymity for those opinions and viewpoints that ultimately harm others. That having been said, a lot of my friends have put their kids in Town School, and itâ€™s an amazing place for any young boy to find himself. Itâ€™s full of great teachers, resources, programs, and even offers financial aid. The prestigious school is almost a direct path to the best universities in the world.
The question, however, must be asked: Do parents have a right, under the veil of anonymity, to publicly criticize a school tour of the Castro, denigrating the school for posing a threat to the moral fiber of their kids?