Letters to the Pilot

Thursday, April 18, 2002

Tired of hate-filled words


Mr. Editor, I wish allinstitutions could simply have a non-discrimination phrase that was as simple as, "We do not discriminate." Hopefully in 50 years that can be written and everyone knows what is included in that statement.

The Storm Lake School Board decided that it wasn't necessary to add the phrase "sexual orientation" into the district's discrimination policy. They feel they currently have achieved a quality educational experience with a climate appropriate for learning and personal growth.

Ask a student how often he/she hears "fag" or "gay" during one school day, and many won't be able to count it on one hand. Sociologists say that roughly 3-5 percent of the population is lesbian/gay/bisexual (some say as low as 1.5 percent and some say as high as 10 percent). With about 600 students, statistically there would be between 18 and 30 LGB students. These students already are going through the stress-filled environment of high school, plus they are

dealing with the stress of possible rejection or retaliation by their families, friends and churches. Should they worry about their educators as well?

Eliminating the daily hate-filled words that are based on ignorance and biased fear can be improved. If it's not happy or homosexual, it's not gay. If it's not a bundle of sticks or a British cigarette, it's not a fag. Teachers and students are the keys in getting this accomplished. Until it's written down, nothing much is usually done.

The school district could not find many examples when they looked at other districts in the state. Maybe they should look at post-secondary institutions. Buena Vista, Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Iowa, would be some good ones to start with. They have chosen to add "sexual orientation" into their faculty and student non-

discrimination policies. Do they know something different? Have they realized that it is no more a preference or choice to be lesbian/gay/bisexual as a choice to be brown-eyed or blue-eyed?

Many people find it hard to completely understand, as do I, but not fully understanding 3-5 percent of the population is no reason to discriminate against them. As with all other school districts across the nation, Storm Lake has a problem.

As Mr. Chindlund recently said [during a meeting], "In my day high school kids didn't run the school, it was parents and the school board." In my day, the parents and school board acted in the students' best interests. If students pass around a petition saying that it should be changed because they feel there is a problem, it should be changed. If not in written policy, what will the administration do?

Who will follow through?

Eric Bochtler

SLHS Student Body

President 1999-2000