make WWAY your homepage  Become a fan on facebook  Follow us on twitter  Receive RSS Newsfeeds  MEMBERS: Register | Login

My alma mater continues to gay bash

A decade ago, and for years before that, Irmo High School in suburban Columbia was one of the best schools in South Carolina. That may not sound like much based on the state of education in the Palmetto State. But back in the day, Irmo was as good as any school in the country. We were always at or near the top of the state in test scores and other school grades. Our academic competition teams routinely competed for national titles. Our athletic teams were among the best in the state. Our faculty was among the best and brightest you could find, and so, in turn, were the students. Graduating from Irmo, you knew you were prepared for college and the real world beyond.

Today, though, my alma mater makes headlines for all the wrong reasons it seems. The latest black eye came earlier this week when the school's principal announced he would leave when his contract expires at the end of the 2008-09 school year. All because he had to allow a club for gay students at his school. In a letter to "Irmo Nation" (whatever that is) Eddie Walker claims it's because allowing such a club conflicts with professional and religious beliefs. He also writes that based on the school's sex ed policy of teaching abstinence, "I feel the formation of a Gay/Straight Alliance Club at Irmo High school implies that students joining the club will have chosen to or will choose to engage in sexual activity with members of the same sex, opposite sex, or members of both sexes."

I'll bet the school also preaches healthy diets. So will the Spanish Club have to disband because members make flan? I don't know Eddie Walker, so I can't speak to what kind of man or educator he is. But I question his reasoning and the life lessons of acceptance, tolerance and even logic he is displaying to impressionable young minds. Sir, I can guarantee there are members of the football team, the cheerleading squad and the debate team who "will have chosen to or will choose to engage in sexual activity with members of the same sex, opposite sex, or members of both sexes." Guarantee.

This latest bit of negative attention is bad enough. But it's even worse when you consider other bad press. For instance 10 years ago this month Walker's predecessor made another anti-gay statement of sorts. The school won a national competition that earned it a free concert on campus from the Indigo Girls. When some parents called principal Gerald Witt and complained that the Indigo Girls were (GASP!) lesbians, Witt cancelled the concert, drawing unwanted attention from media across the country and beyond. I know Gerald Witt. My senior year was his first year as principal, and I admired and respected the changes, especially in attitude and pride, he made early on. And when he retired from the job a few years ago, I wrote to him and told him how much I respected him and the difference he made in my experience as a student. But even though I had already graduated, I certainly lost respect for the way he handled the Indigo Girls.

On a different note, two years ago Irmo was the center of attention again for all the wrong reasons, after local investigators say they foiled a plot by gang members to fight at an Irmo football game. Gangs and violence just were not something we worried about at Irmo years ago. Once upon a time, the worst thing that could be said about Irmo was that one of our distinguished alums was Donna Rice, the young woman who led to the unravelling of Gary Hart's presidential campaign and political career. But times change, I guess.

But back to the issue at hand now. Where have we come as a society that the leader of a public school thinks it's worth his job to oppose an act of inclusion? How does something like this happen twice at one school that was once known for being a leader in education? It disturbs me that we are still at a point where adults act like this in front of children. I respect Walker's personal beliefs. But they should be just that. And again, his rationalization of his professional beliefs as an excuse make me wonder if he is fit to continue as principal the last few days of this school year let alone all of next year.

The fact of the matter is that in every school there are going to be homosexual students. And you can bet that in most cases, it is not an easy experience for them. The goal of all clubs and activities in schools is to give young people a place where they can find themselves, find acceptance, find out who they are. I know when I was a student we had a chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, where students could come together and share their religious faith far more openly than they may feel comfortable in other school settings. Why shouldn't gay students have the same opportunity? I'm fairly sure if this club had been around when I was a student, friends who later came out would have had a better experience in high school.

Schools are not just places for students to learn reading, writing and 'rithmetic. It is also a place where they learn right and wrong, where they learn to be functional members of society. What I'm learning from Eddie Walker is that if a particular group of people offends your personal beliefs you should stand up and oppose them. OK. Fine. But I'm also learning that apparently you should cower behind excuses to explain away your own narrow-mindedness, confusion or even hatred instead of seeing if there's even a chance to get along.

"I don’t intend to make a big deal out of this," Walker wrote in his letter. "Let’s get it over quick (sic) so we can close this year and have a great 2008-2009 school year. I intend to work with you and our students to make 2008-2009 the best year in our illustrious history. It is very important to me that the club sponsor and all students who join this club receive Golden Rule treatment from everyone."

Golden Rule treatment? As in treat others as you would like to be treated? Fine. I think plenty of people will be happy to act out against what you believe in.

By: Kevin Wuzzardo

Irmo

The truth of the matter is that Homosexuality goes against the very core of the principal's religious beliefs. Just because society has changed its values and accept many things that used to be considered unacceptable, the core values of most religious beliefs does not accept homosexuality. It is only in the last 20 years that religious groups have "modified" their values and beliefs to allow homosexuality, unmarried sexual relations, and other aspects. As the core values of Christianity have been responsible for current value of women and individuals of various races, why would we want to change from these values? I applaud his honesty and ability to stand by his values, despite how it would effect his employment and future.

HS Clubs

If you want to get rid of the groups in HS having sex...then take a look at your sports teams and cheerleaders. I'm guessing that's OK since they're having heterosexual relations.

Stick with me here, Kevin....

Let's start off with a logical pattern question. Which of the following is different from the rest? A. The Spanish Club B. The Drama Club C. The Chess Club D. The Gay Student Alliance (HINT: Which one involves sex in any way, shape, or form, no matter how remote?) Do you think that just possibly the sexual foundation of the club is the basis of Walker's objection? Would it be appropriate for a high school to have an officially sanctioned and recognized club for Swingers? Girls who enjoy multiple partners? Should they recognize a Masturbation Club? Walker isn't an idiot. He knows that students in his school are having sex: Straight sex, gay and lesbian sex, bisexual sex, and likely for most of them solo-sex. But the school is now forced to officially recognize a club that wouldn't exist if not for SEX. (Let's face it - you're not going to be in this club unless you've HAD sex with a member of the same gender.) Walker and most rational people think that that's inappropriate in a high school. They can wait until they get to college to have their little club.

GSA

As I read through these comments, I could not believe such obtuse thoughts still existed in todays society. The club is not about having sex- its a place for students to feel safe and to know others accept them as they are. Just because one is gay, does not mean they are having sex. Stop living in dark ages. Comments like these are why people think the south is ignorant!! One of my favorite quotes is below- esp. for you bible thumpers: "He created you in His image. At least that's what I was always taught. And since God is love and God doesn't make mistakes, then you must be exactly the way he wants you to be, the way he intended you to be.He loves us all"

Then how do you know you're gay?

"Just because one is gay, does not mean they are having sex." To be a skydiver, you actually have to jump out of planes. To be a coin collector, you actually have to collect coins. So how does one become gay without engaging in gay sex? Do you have honorary memberships, or something?

gay or straight

Did you have to have sex to know you were straight?

I never worried about it, and I surely didn't join some club

I simply did what came natural. I felt no compulsive desire to announce to the world, "I'm straight and I have to now make that an integral part of my public life, never letting you forget that I am straight for one moment." Sex is great. I'm sure sex is just as great to a gay guy or Lesbian. Here's the rub, however: Sex is supposed to be only a part of our life. It's not supposed to be the reason that we were born. It's not supposed to be the main identifier of our existence. I recognize, however, that some people feel a need to join clubs and that is particularly true when the club's underlying cause is at odds with the majority of society. So there will be clubs.....but ANY club recognizing sexual activity or preference is inappropriate for a high school environment. Irmo High School should not be forced to recognize a Gay/Straight Student Alliance any more than a Sophomore Swingers Club.

Gay Alliance

Sorry, but a Gay student alliance is not about "sex" it's a support group for those that feel out casted by other school kids who's narrow minded, bible-humping parents teach to them. High school kids are going to have sex anyways and a club and just because you straights like to focus on that gays=sex we're never going to have a world where people can be respectful to everyone. Being gay is about people not just sex...but it's not worth wasting my time trying to explain to you this because no words of wisdom will sink into your thick heads. You straight people just need to wake up one day and realize that gay people are no different than you are. As for the other religious comments from others...Isn't the bible supposed to be about God's love and against judging others? Do you follow everything else you learn from the bible or is it just tweaking phrases to allow you to hate gays? What about the part that says sex with a prostitute is acceptable for the husband but not for the wife. Slavery and sex with slaves, marriage of girls aged 11-13, and treatment of women as property are all accepted practices in the Scriptures. And what about interracial marriage or even birth control? And or any of these followed? # DEUTERONOMY 22:13-21 If it is discovered that a bride is not a virgin, the Bible demands that she be executed by stoning immediately. # DEUTERONOMY 22:22 If a married person has sex with someone else's husband or wife, the Bible commands that both adulterers be stoned to death. # MARK 10:1-12 Divorce is strictly forbidden in both Testaments, as is remarriage of anyone who has been divorced. # LEVITICUS 18:19 The Bible forbids a married couple from having sexual intercourse during a woman's period. If they disobey, both shall be executed. # MARK 12:18-27 If a man dies childless, his widow is ordered by biblical law to have intercourse with each of his brothers in turn until she bears her deceased husband a male heir.

Talk about the dark ages

If you want to start quoting Bible verses here's one for you Leviticus 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. The Lord does not approve of adultery and such is not permitted. And you are right, we, as Christians, shouldnt sit in judgement of others. One day EVERYONE will sit in judgment before the LORD GOD Himself. You will sit in judgment for your sins just as I will sit before Him. However, we are to stand against those that are against the Lord and what He wants for our lives. The Bible says let he who is without sin cast the first stone. It all comes down to personal belief. My personal belief and conviction is that homosexuality is wrong and that is exactly what I will teach my children! If I am wrong then the Lord will let me know! Schools dont want to let kids pray in school and even want to get rid of the pledge of allegiance. Schools dont even want to let children have Bible classes, which would be voluntary. But we are supposed to just roll over and cry violation of civil rights because we dont want homosexuals to be able to meet? What about the rights of the Christians who want to meet on school grounds? What about their civil rights???

Gay in SC

You Said: " I know when I was a student we had a chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, where students could come together and share their religious faith far more openly than they may feel comfortable in other school settings. Why shouldn't gay students have the same opportunity? " I Say: "Because they are gay."

Gay in SC

It is an abomination in gods eyes and a stench in his nostrils. This according to the word of god!!! It should not be allowed in schools where kids are learning how to live.

Gay in SC?

God is against Gay Student Alliances? Does it say that in the bible too? I guess you'll find somewhere that if you only read every 3rd word you'll see that it says so. Last I checked God didn't "hate"....but you sure do. Hope he doesn't hate you for hating.

Every 3rd word

You would have to read every 3rd word to miss where God "hates". There are many things God hates and homosexuality is definitely on that list.