A protest war [was] on the horizon

Note: This  opinion article was submitted on May 20th for prior review due to a new clause in district policy that mandates administrators review anything for publication for unprotected speech.  The district JICEA policy will be re-reviewed this summer.  The article is now approved.


   Recently, there was a protest that the Delta Paw Print covered about the Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education (CHSE) outside of Delta County School District’s building. In response and despite this protest, there is going to be another protest in the same location. There may be a protest war coming Delta’s way, and the school district will have to receive all of it.


   CHSE protesters were unhappy with the curriculum’s open education style that is intended to help kids find age appropriate education from a trusted source. They did not want the programs about homosexuality and gender or the curriculum to start with a course in healthy relationships in kindergarten. 


   The upcoming protest that will occur this Thursday at 5:15 PM at DCSD’s building is a response to multiple grievances from the LGBT+ community. These protesters are upset because the school district had still not responded to the efforts of Decolonizing Delta County School District (DDCSD), a group dedicated to helping Delta County School District become “anti-racist” and bring diversity to the school curriculum, after eight months of resiliance. Another reason is responding to the CHSE protest after hundreds of community members protested educating children about sexual orientation. 


   Growing up in rural areas from different parts of Colorado, and even Florida, I have easily recognized an angry conservative mob, and these mobs are the angriest. Their anger could be expressed in other issues in the community that require tradition, but this is not one of those issues. Unfortunately, these members of the community are concerning themselves with a subject they do not take time to understand, nor do they genuinely care for the graciousness of our community.  So, if you combine anger with false passion, you will get into a protest war. Surely, there is a way out of it, but currently, Delta’s signs are pointing to the sky. 


   This is why there is another protest in response to the CHSE protest, and why I, as a gay man, am calling a protest war. 


   The members of the community are going out of their way to protest how others live their lives and denying the need to have proper education for healthy lifestyle choices and being true to oneself. I assure that the more hateful this protest gets, the more kids who grow up coming out at forty and suffering severe depression from hiding their homosexuality. Trying to “create peace” in the community by censoring gay people will only bring more destruction for many folk, including the ones who protest it. Trying to solve a problem with another problem is quite unproductive. 


   More kids will grow up with unfortunate sexual experiences because they were never told how the mind is meant to work. With or without God in the argument, refusing to let kids try to find themselves in a safe environment is quite narcissistic and it does NOT look good on Delta. Even if parents believe it is their responsibility to teach their kids sexual education, it must also be their responsibility to actually teach their child everything besides waiting for them to ask questions that will fit their personal agenda. 


   The meeting itself was horrid to watch as a gay man, but as a journalist I was intrigued by the negation arguments for the CHSE proposal. In the first speech, a man claims kids are curious and this is why we should not educate them about what they are curious about. Unfortunately, I have personal experience with not having sexual education and looking towards Google to answer my questions. It made me feel like I was wrong for not being able to experience my sexuality in the ways that it is represented in the media, and I found that my unrealistic view on sex and love had left me more confused than I was before. I feel lucky to have the right amount of support in my life to make sure that I recovered from this unrealistic view on my sexuality. But, systematically stripping a child’s right to learn about the real world issues they may face, which is not just algebra and social darwinism, is a critical issue. The second speech included a man who said that the American Psychological Association states that those who suffer from gender identity disorder are mentally ill, when it is quite the point of why children should UNDERSTAND if they have this mental disorder. Transgender people only transition to help solve this disorder because without transitioning, they will be trapped in their own gender identity crisis. Transgender individuals recognize this, and the lack of research in the life of LGBT+ individuals contributes to instances like these. These protesters and those that follow will be the catalyst for how all generations after themselves will experience puberty and the “mysteries” of sexuality and gender, so we MUST do it correctly and not think about our personal feelings. The world is changing and Delta is changing with it. 


   The thing that makes me more irked is that these parents have no faith that their kids will grow up and learn who they are before the curriculum “turns them gay.” Kids may be curious and projective, but they definitely are not dumb, and they know what they want and what they do not want. It is insulting, quite frankly, that parents opposing the curriculum are not considering that children are people too. They are just little people who deserve rights as well. Children of course need guidance, but by middle school, kids already know what they want to do. Homosexuality and sexual education are not immenent threats that need evacuation, but they are chances for a teenager to understand that gay people are people too, and I believe that the chain reaction will result in a community of love. I do not think gay people will run around and contaminate the community with their “feisty flames.”


   The burning urge to suppress LGBT+ individuals is far beyond the importance placed on a child’s education, and the true reason why so many people protested this proposal. The outrage was outright homophobia. “Keep it in their home” is not a very concerned dialogue, and this dialogue was said in that first speech. It is rooted from fear, and there was no order from the district when the speeches were getting hateful and out of hand. 


   And that leads to another big grievance. Decolonizing DCSD had been contacted by the school district’s lawyer only, who was aggressively resisting their effort, although it is quite clear that there is not a threat in integrating diverse education. Even when I tried to express how irresponsible this response is to the top dogs in the district, they ignored me. The district needs a foundation besides the Christian community members who run our required social institutions. They want to please the evangelical population, but they cannot please them without throwing another group under the bus. They actually forwarded the email to the principal of Delta High School, the school I currently attend, which was quite offensive considering I put my phone number in the email to talk to these people in person. 


   The organizers of DDCSD stated that they are tired of fighting an impossible district, but they are not giving up. I know this group and its organizers have had personal experience with the inequity of the district, mostly because I was the journalist who contacted them and shared their goals for this district, and that leads me to believe that their protest is a passion protest. I feel like I am watching “World’s Deadliest Warrior: Angry Mob v. Passionate Mob.” This is quite blunt, but it is the blunt truth. 


   The Learning Councsil, a group that fosters diverse educational resources, is organizing this protest. This group had protested over most of the summer with Decolonizing DCSD to see that the school district reads the many testimonies and hundreds of signatures that prove students of color are marginalized in this community. The only changes I have been able to note was that the school district said they don’t tolerate discrimination. It seems like the work is done if you’re not the one being marginalized, but actually, this did absolutely nothing helpful. Telling kids to stop bullying the darker skinned kids and gay kids on a website they don’t look at will absolutely not do anything. 


   If we combine these two reasons together, we will see that the LGBT+ community is not keen on letting the district throw out CHSE because it will set us back again. CHSE will show kids that gay kids are normal. I’m sure my sexuality is not the deciding factor of my value because I know my value lies in my intellect and personal expression. Other kids need to understand this because currently, they have been taught that gay and trans people are inferior in intellect. 


So, these factors together are the reasons there is another protest, but is it really going to be a war? 


   The protests will last, as they have since the beginning of our country’s founding, but it will be a war because I am not giving up on protesting my rights, evidently with this article, and I know the organizers of DDCSD will not give up either. If the group does not live on, the personal agenda of the organizers will. They have committed a lot of time to simply be listened to, rather than just heard. The district had heard the testimonies and the debates, but they still don’t find “reason” to act, so we are apparently going to have them consider it through protest. I suggest that these protests will go on until an actual, palpable change is presented to the community. 


   I also think that the CHSE protesters will not let up as well. First Baptist Church, a supposedly welcoming environment, even helped organize it [the first protest], and I know about the angry crime of weaponized religion. I have spirit in my heart as much as anyone else, but I also am aware of the lack of logic behind hating a group of people because the Bible says so, even if the Bible also condemns hateful expression. I feel the protesters will continue to censor education for the sake of tradition because they are uncomfortable with change, which is okay, but resisting it won’t make the road to peace pave itself. 


   A local church newsletter was spreading false information about the curriculum and it caused anger, and what goes around comes around, so I also think the churches will not give up in trying to censor education, once again, for the sake of tradition.


   There may even be more protests on different issues, but currently the school district is a cold mess. I say cold because of the inaction of the administration, but also because the time frames and intensity levels of the protests. The protests are very non-violent and a part of democracy, but the way information is being spread across the community is bound to have these protesters committed to proving their points, even if it is off track.


   How do we stop it? We may not, but it is up to the school district to bring a solution that will satisfy one party.