On tolerance and bigotry

This is my 3/18/02 response to the article
"Pickets protest board's editing of tolerance film - Gay segment deleted by Grossmont Union"
in the San Diego (CA) Union-Tribune, March 14, 2002. 

Press Release

March 18, 2002

Gabi Clayton, Olympia, WA, member of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and a co-founder of Families United Against Hate (FUAH),     
Carolyn Wagner, Vice-President of PFLAG and co-founder of FUAH 
Janine Iamunno, Director of Communications & Special Projects - Arnold Shapiro Productions  

Gabi Clayton's response to article "Pickets protest board's editing of tolerance film - Gay segment deleted by Grossmont Union" San Diego (CA) Union-Tribune, March 14, 2002.

I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach when I read the article about the Grossmont Union School district insisting that a film be edited to take out a segment on discrimination based on sexual orientation. I am the mother who was interviewed in this film, "Teen Files: The Truth About Hate" by Arnold Shapiro Productions. My son Bill Clayton was the bisexual student who committed suicide when he was seventeen years old, a month after he was assaulted in a hate crime based on his sexual orientation.

There was a statement in the article from Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute, "that the district's decision to have the film altered was a responsible way to teach about tolerance while respecting the beliefs of parents concerned about the controversial issue." The Pacific Justice Institute claims that it specializes in the defense of religious freedom and the family. My family is apparently not included, and I believe that there is nothing responsible about respecting the kind of ignorance that leads to harassment and hate crimes.

School trustee Priscilla Schreiber "said the portrayal of a gay authority figure," (a police officer Chuck Limbert of the San Francisco Police Department, whom I have met) "sends a message that homosexuality is normal and acceptable, which she said does not belong in the classroom." It is normal and acceptable. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youths, teachers, staff and parents are in those classrooms, as are their siblings, children, other family members and friends. What should not be normal and acceptable in our schools and in our communities is promoting this kind of intolerance.

I believe that the decision to edit the film was a bad decision. What kind of lesson does this teach about tolerance? It should have been shown in its entirety. The film does not promote one sexual orientation over another any more than it promotes one religion, race or ethnicity over another. The segments that dealt with those biases were permitted.

Arnold Shapiro Productions responded when they were told about this:

Arnold Shapiro and Allison Grodner, producers of THE TEEN FILES: THE TRUTH ABOUT HATE, commented, "We are deeply disturbed by this turn of events and by the message it sends to the students at Granite Hills High School.  As long as this kind of censorship continues, so will the bigotry, intolerance, and violence that are a part of daily life for gay and bisexual teens across the country.  The school board's decision is offensive, dangerous, and completely incongruous with the entire point of tolerance programs in schools."

The way this was handled last week sends a message that my son Bill's life was less precious than others, and I take that very personally. Hate based on ignorance killed my son. He is dead now and my real concern is for those who are alive and live with this bigotry every day. What this cut says to me is that our gay, lesbian, bisexual children and adults are not welcome, not worthy, and have no right to expect to be safe in their schools.

What has been done in the Grossmont Union School district sends a message to all of our children who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender that they are not worth fighting for, and that is not true.

Gabi Clayton, Olympia, WA

PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays)

Families United Against Hate

"The Teen Files" - show on hate and prejudice - 1999 article written by Gabi Clayton for the PFLAG-Olympia newsletter just before the show aired.

Teen Files: The Truth About Hate
Arnold Shapiro Productions


San Diego Union Tribune  

Editorial: Selective hate - Narrow-minded board cuts tolerance film - March 20, 2002

Letters to the Editor: 
Mother of slain student asks, 'Why be selective on hate?' xxx
- March 20, 2002

Tolerance on the cutting room floor  - March 23, 2002

District will not be hijacked by homosexual activists - March 28, 2002
By Gary Cass and Priscilla Schreiber (two of the Grossmont Union School trustees)

Two Grossmont trustees - March 29, 2002

Gay & Lesbian Times, San Diego

Students protest school board meeting over tolerance film cuts - March 21, 2002

AP story

Dad: Separate School Bathrooms For Gays - Father Files Compliant Alleging Right Of Privacy Violated - March 28, 2002

Tampa Bay Coalition Eye on GLBT News - by R. Zeke Fread - March 20, 2002

Board Excludes Sexual Orientation from Tolerance Program

Op~Ed: Lesson in Tolerance, I Think Not.

To respond to this:

Send San Diego Union-Tribune letters to the editor: letters@uniontrib.com

Contact the Grossmont Union High School District school board:

Gary Cass, Member of the Governing Board: whcf1@juno.com
Ted Crooks, Member of the Governing Board: ted@crooks.com
Thomas A. Page, President of the Governing Board: tpage@guhsd.net
Priscilla Schreiber, Clerk of the Governing Board: linroeus@aol.com
Daniel McGeorge, Vice President of the Governing Board: dan_mcgeorge@excite.com

San Diego Anti-Defamation League: san-diego@adl.org

The Lesbian and Gay Men's Community Center:

Sherry Wright, Director, Public Policy Department: swright@thecentersd.org

GLSEN-San Diego: glsensd@glsensd.org

"Teen Files: The Truth About Hate" can be ordered from Discovery Education. See this page where it is listed there with other films. It is available in DVD and VHS formats in a long (49 minute) and short (32 minute) version. I've never seen the short version, which is also available in Spanish.

2002 Gabi Clayton

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