Monday, May 5, 2008

My best columns are in my head

Do the other columnists have this problem, too? On a regular basis, I'll see something, read a news story or encounter something that inspires me. I think, "That would make a great column!" Sometimes these ideas turn into mediocre columns, and sometimes they just fade away on my long mental list of things that seem brilliant. Having a column has been a great experience, and it would've been so much better if I didn't have the distraction of having to graduate from college.

The end of the semester is nearly here and most of the inspiring encounters will remain in my head (some of them are better off there.) There's one article that I have to share with everyone. Even though I never ended up columnizing about it, the story needs to be shared. It's from the periodical, "Rethinking Schools" (vol. 22, Fall 2007.)

Brotherly Love? Hardly
After enduring intense public haranguing and threatening phone calls that were said to border on "terroristic," Philadelphia Public Schools has pulled Gay and Lesbian History Month from its official calendar. However, in an effort to be fair, the district also scratched similar diversity recognition months and days, including African-American and Hispanic Heritage months and International Day of Disabled Persons.

In keeping with the spirit of its diversity policy, the district moved to include Gay and Lesbian History Month — celebrated in October — on last year's calendar, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The outrage was immediate.

"We were just not prepared for the controversy," Cecilia Cummings, the district's spokesperson, told the Inquirer. "We were besieged by calls, threats, letters, and we didn't have the manpower to staff it. Nor did we have the preparation or training to really figure out how to deal with this issue in a way that could keep kids safe. We had meetings where adults were calling kids names."

The district had received complaints in prior years, but never to the extent seen when they placed Gay and Lesbian History Month on the calendar, Cummings said.
(Fall 2007, "Short Stuff")

I love this story! The school district said, "Alright, that's it - nobody gets a day of recognition!" An argument could be made on either side of the argument of whether to add this to their calendar, but to solve the problem - They're actually treating everyone the same.

The flaw in all of these well-intended days of appreciation is that in calling attention to someone, even in an attempt to celebrate diversity, a divide is created. I know someone who was the only African-American in her high school. She dreaded every February because whenever Black History Month came up in the classroom, all eyes were on her. It didn't make her feel appreciated, it made her feel embarrassed.

So I say, Good for Philadelphia school district for their inclusive exclusion. Treating everyone the same should ultimately do more to bring people together than having George Washington Carver in the curriculum every February.

1 comment:

david-goodner said...

did they exclude White History Month too? All the saltine crackers in the house say hoooooo!