The Wright Perspective℠
Social Commentary from the C-Suite to Main Street℠
A Blog by Gary Wright II
Constance, Derrick, and Juin - Three teens who just changed the world!
Tuesday, March 30th, 2010
Constance McMillen, Derrick Martin, and Juin Baize are three incredibly brave gay teens - and I think they just changed the world!
Constance and Juin were students at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Mississippi. Constance fought and won her court battle to bring her date to the prom, but the school cancelled the event to keep the couple from attending. Juin never even got a chance to fight - the school suspended him after only four hours and his family were driven out of town. Juin, his mother, and two sisters are now homeless and hiding in Pensacola, Florida.
Derrick was an honor student at his Bleckley County High School in Georgia. Because his date was from another school system, Derrick had to ask permission to attend the prom. At first, the school denied his request, but then they reversed the decision - probably because of McMillen's court victory in Mississippi. When his story made national news, his parents kicked him out of their house. A painfully ironic fact: His father Raymond is a math teacher at the school, an adviser for the Bleckley County Future Educators Association, and was once named Teacher of the Year. I think Raymond is certainly out of the running for Father of the Year.
As if these kids don't have enough problems to deal with right now, the amount of press coverage has made them instant celebrities. Even under this immense pressure, these teens have acted more mature than most of the adults.
So, how did they change the world? Each case has sparked some very important conversations within our communities, around the nation, and now around the world. Hundreds of people are reaching out to help these families, and the amount of encouragement and support shown for these kids is quite inspiring. Whenever communities pull together like this, life becomes easier for everyone.
I especially like what Kim in Portland wrote about Derrick on slog: He's a face to a very tragic situation. He isn't the only one, and we all need to be keeping our eyes open. Rejection and isolation are terrible things, and Derrick Martin's story has the potential to help others feel that they are not alone.
So, I'm going to go off topic and list a few resources. Perhaps, there are "Derricks", "Juins", "Constances" and "Lovers" who read Slog. And, they need to know that the world contains people who do want them.
GLBT National Youth Talkline
The Trevor Project
(866) 488-7386 (4-U-TREVOR)
Advocates for Youth
I would like to add two resources to Kim's list:
Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
Gay - Straight Alliance
I maintain a list of LGBT resources which can be found at: CleverThings.com/people/LGBT
Kim in Portland is right. Attention is being drawn to these teens, but there are millions of kids (and adults) who face similar situations every day. It's worth repeating, "they need to know that the world contains people who do want them."
-- Gary Wright II
UPDATE 7/20/2010: As a result of the lawsuit, Itawamba schools adopt a non-discrimination and anti-harassment policy covering sexual orientation and gender identity. They also must pay $35,000 in damages.
UPDATE 10/26/10: In addition to the $35,000 in damages, a federal judge has ordered the school district to pay for $81,000 in legal fees.