High School Principal Quits Over Gay/Straight Alliance Group

I don’t know whether to be angry or not.

Eddie Walker, principal at Irmo High School in South Carolina, is resigning at the end of the next school year. Why? Because a Gay/Straight Alliance group is being allowed to form at his school and he can’t deal with it.

In a letter sent to the student body and faculty, and obtained by WIS News 10 Columbia, Irmo High School Principal Eddie Walker wrote, “The formation of this club conflicts with my professional beliefs in that we do not have other clubs at Irmo High school based on sexual orientation, sexual preference, or sexual activity. In fact our sex education curriculum is abstinence based. 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.

How can someone so ignorant be in charge of educating anyone, much less being in charge of an entire school?

Hence the dilemma.

He’s staying in his position through next year because of his professional obligations. He’s not standing in the way of the group. He even writes: “It is very important to me that the club sponsor and all students who join this club receive Golden Rule treatment from everyone.”

So that’s a plus, I suppose…

I’m all for respecting people even if I don’t respect their beliefs. But when your beliefs cause you to be intolerant and bigoted, that respect fades quickly.

Making idiotic comments also helps.

Like saying that joining a GSA group will lead to all sorts of sex.

As one blogger writes:

I dare anyone to show me proof that GSAs encourage sexual activity. There has never been any proof of this assertion because it is a false notion created by the anti-gay industry designed to scare ignorant people.

GSAs exist so that lgbt teenagers can meet and interact with others like themselves. GSAs exist so that lgbt teenagers do not feel so isolated in a school environment, which at times can be homophobic.

The argument doesn’t hold much water, anyway.

Students know their own sexual orientation at a young age — younger than some might think. Allowing them to be open about that is not the same as promoting sexual activity.

Teaching tolerance, especially in the face of religious bigotry, should be encouraged, not dismissed.

Not to mention GSA groups discuss a whole host of issues. Including how to deal with people who don’t understand LGBT issues. Like, say, the principal of your high school.

(via Pam’s House Blend)


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • Kate

    Well…on the plus side…he resigned. He could’ve stuck around and thrown some fits and gotten nasty, etc.

    Also, I’m not sure how a LGBT alliance will increase the amount of straight sex in the school. Someone explain that one to me.

    My mom taught 1st grade for years and years (since Jesus was a kid) and has seen kids THAT young that she knew would end up gay someday. She was right. “Choice” my ass.

  • http://blog.jaredharley.com Jared

    @Kate: Exactly what I was going to say.

    As wrong as his beliefs may be, at least he decided to step down rather than try to force those beliefs by stopping the formation of the group, leading to ACLU involvement, etc.

  • Jen

    I am kind of glad he is quitting. Regardless of the fact that he is professing that he will be nice to the GSAers, the very fact that he is announcing he is quitting over it is bound to make those kids uncomfortable (or heros, possibly).

    When I was in high school, they tried to form a GSA and faced a lot of opposition. Really, it makes me a little ill to think of, because I admit I was part of the problem- an undercover bigot who really just needed a taste of the real world to become the understanding and awesome adult I am now. What really makes me mad, though, is that it is understandable the kids would be jerks- but plenty of the authorities were jerks too. And I live in a blue state, in a blue town, where things hsould be pretty liberal.

  • Krista

    Ignorant people like this guy think that being gay is just a sexual perversion. They view it as a sex thing and don’t see beyond that. In their minds it is equal with BDSM, exhibitionism, and other kinky things that wild crazy folks do. To him, to allow kids to be gay is to approve of their kinky fucking. Anyway, I’m assuming he’s one of these types – I deal with people like that every day and they usually throw in something to make them seem more politically correct like this guy and his “golden rule” statement.

  • Dylan Armitage

    My school has a very healthy, active, and supported GSA. And it’s not the members or people even associated with it that are having all sex and getting pregnant….

    While true, him resigning purely over such an issue may be immature, at least he recognizes his own conflict of interests and wants to do what’s best for the school. It’s the “I don’t approve, but I’m not going to stop you or do anything if you do it,” a “live and let live,” and that takes maturity. If only that were more common.

    He basically tried to have the school be latently sexual, and when that could no longer happen, he resigned. His comments were definitely not the best to make, but at least there’s a smidgen of reason. Reminds me of a letter to the editor in my local newspaper the other day. They had read about the California Supreme Court’s ruling of gay marriage and originally became angered by it. But then they took a step back and realized that there was no good reason to be angered, and so decided to take on “live and let live.”

    And who knows, people change. :)

  • ryot

    I guess that’s better than the principal trying to stop the group. He’s stupid and ignorant, but at least he’s not a total ass.

    In high school a friend and I, along with our English teacher tried to start a GSA, because there really was a need for one. There is no safe place to discuss these things, and there’s remarkably few people to ask for help. Basically it got shot down by the principal because, and I’m not making this up, if he allowed a group for homosexuals and their supporters to get together on school grounds, he would have to allow groups like the Neo-Nazis and KKK to meet. They are incredibly similar after all.

    I almost refused to shake his hand when I received my diploma. Instead I just gave him that I-hope-you-trip-and-fall-off-the-stage look.

  • Katie H

    “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.”

    Doesn’t entering puberty imply that people will “choose” to engage in sexual activity with members of the same sex, opposite sex, or both sexes? Unless that person is asexual? No GSA required for that, Captain Redundant.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    I will definitely say this: As bigoted, screwed-up, stupid, harmful, and out of touch with reality as this guy is being, he is doing the right thing by resigning.

    Isn’t that what we’re always saying when people’s deeply held religious beliefs conflict with their jobs? Especially when those jobs are in the public sector? When pharmacists don’t want to provide birth control because it goes against their religion, for instance, we say, “Well, if you’re not willing to provide a legal drug legally prescribed by someone for their doctor, perhaps you shouldn’t be a pharmacist.” When public school teachers don’t want to teach evolution and want to teach creationism because of their religious beliefs, we say, “Well, if you feel that way, perhaps you shouldn’t be teaching biology in the public schools.”

    This guy decided that his religious beliefs conflicted with his professional obligations, and that therefore he shouldn’t be a principal in the public schools. He’s right.

    Of course he’d be a whole lot more right if he’d rethink his bigoted, screwed-up, stupid, harmful, and out of touch with reality opinions about gay people…

  • mikespeir

    I don’t think I’d be crazy about high schoolers forming a officially sanctioned club revolving around sex at all, homosexual or heterosexual. Some might come back and say it’s a sort-of support group, there to help the kids cope with the psychological stresses that come of being a despised minority. I might see some sense in that.

  • Michael

    Ok, this has some conflicting view points in my opinion.

    I think abstinence based sex education is idiotic. This guy seems more motivated by his religious beliefs, which in my opinion, is idiotic.

    But I only graduated high school in 2000. When did we start having sex based clubs? Keeping sex out of high school is like keeping religion out of church, I know this. But I thought a school only had to approve a club if it used school time or funds. I still find it bizarre that there is a “sex” club in public schools.

  • stogoe

    What is wrong with you? Honestly.

    GSA groups aren’t about your kinky gay sex wet dreams, bucko, no matter how hard you wish they were.

    I have no more words for you. I can only shake my head in utter bewilderment.

  • http://liberalfaith.blogspot.com/ Steve Caldwell

    mikespeir said,

    I don’t think I’d be crazy about high schoolers forming a officially sanctioned club revolving around sex at all, homosexual or heterosexual. Some might come back and say it’s a sort-of support group, there to help the kids cope with the psychological stresses that come of being a despised minority. I might see some sense in that.

    Gee … wouldn’t the student group in charge of planning the prom be a “sanctioned club revolving around sex”?

    There’s a reason that people say “I’m off like a prom dress” when saying goodbye — see the Urban Dictionary link:

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=off+like+a+prom+dress

    According to the Urban Dictionary slang site:

    … this phrase means to leave somewhere very quickly with speed matching that of prom dress removal at a post-prom party.

  • mikespeir

    “Gee … wouldn’t the student group in charge of planning the prom be a “sanctioned club revolving around sex”?”

    Uh, I really don’t think proms came to be in order to promote student sex.

  • monkeymind

    mikespeir –

    Prom definitely revolves around heterosexual pairing though doesn’t it? In fact doesn’t most of high school social life revolve around dating?

    Most adults I think woudl agree that teens need a lot of support dealing with relationships and working out just how love and sex fit together. Why should gay teens be any different? Doesn’t it seem the least bit warped to you that gay/lesbian teens can’t express their love/infatuations/crushes with the same freedom hetero teens can?

  • Polly

    In fact our sex education curriculum is abstinence based.

    I don’t understand why he felt he HAD to quit? As Greta Christina pointed out, he definitely did the right thing if he felt that way. But, WHY does he feel that way?
    Can’t gay kids be abstinent until marriage or adulthood? And why quit over that anyway? There are kids who are probably other religions, or in other ways are “hellbound” in his school. What makes being gay the one thing he can’t associate himself with for reasons of conscience?

    It just doesn’t make any sense.

  • http://www.lavendermagazine.com Jonathan J. Halverson

    Here is the e-mail I sent to Mr. Walker and his staff…

    Principal Walker,

    Thank you for bearing the burden of stepping down as principal of Irmo High School. It takes a man of such great conviction to be a true leader in our moral community. The mission of Irmo High School, where excellence is never compromised, is to develop an educational community of lifelong learners who meet the global demands of the 21st century through a challenging educational program which embraces diversity and unity, instills integrity and character, and provides opportunities for leadership and teamwork.

    There is no way you can do your job if you are against such an organization. By stepping down and making your personal sacrifice, these kids will learn the real meaning of diversity, unity, integrity, character, leadership, and teamwork.

    Thank you for your sacrifice, but we both know it is necessary for the well-being of these children.

    With kind regards,

    Jonathan J. Halverson
    Bloomington MN

    That is my opinion:-)

  • http://cranialhyperossification.com GDad

    I’m glad he’s removing himself from the situation. I would hope that the superintendent doesn’t replace him with someone who will be worse.

  • Darryl

    I’ve been thinking, trying to understand the deep and wide hatred of gays by some segments of our society. I wonder if many people (maybe all people) enjoy having a scapegoat on which to vent their pent-up anxiety, fear, stress, etc.? Sure, some hatred of gays is fear of gays, but may it also be fear to gays?
    The scapegoat could be anything so long as it’s a socially-safe target within your subculture. Other examples: some liberals love to trash conservatives, and vice versa. They do it with such passion that it makes you wonder what it’s doing to them or for them. When I watch and listen to the right-wing pundits, commentators, and radio talkers I wonder if their rabid hatred of Democrats is more than just show-business hype.

  • Michael

    stogoe said,
    What is wrong with you? Honestly.

    GSA groups aren’t about your kinky gay sex wet dreams, bucko, no matter how hard you wish they were.

    I have no more words for you. I can only shake my head in utter bewilderment.

    Wouldn’t it be cool if they were?

    No, I realize that it isn’t, that should be obvious. But what this sounds like is an activist group or support group, but I could be wrong. I just don’t see the relation to school activities or education. I’m not against these kind of organizations, I support them. One of my friends and even my Aunt are both homosexual and I support their efforts 100%. But shouldn’t this be an after school organization? That’s all I’m saying. Don’t school clubs receive school time and/or funds? With major cities all around the US seeing a dramatic rise in high school drop outs, the last thing we need in schools are distracting, divisive, and politicized issues. But that is just my opinion. There are a lot of clubs that I think fall into this category.

  • mikespeir

    “Prom definitely revolves around heterosexual pairing though doesn’t it? In fact doesn’t most of high school social life revolve around dating?”

    First of all, prom is hardly an established, ongoing club. While it tangentially has something to do with sex, inasmuch as it serves to get one sex comfortable with the other–something most people need to learn to get on in life–it was never officially about sexual intercourse; that is, promoting or excusing sex out of context. Which is not to say the homosexual club would be either, necessarily.

    Dating, of course, is not a school sponsored activity.

  • Spurs Fan

    First of all, prom is hardly an established, ongoing club. While it tangentially has something to do with sex, inasmuch as it serves to get one sex comfortable with the other–something most people need to learn to get on in life–it was never officially about sexual intercourse; that is, promoting or excusing sex out of context. Which is not to say the homosexual club would be either, necessarily.

    Dating, of course, is not a school sponsored activity.

    C’mon mikespeir,

    1) More work,effort, and money goes into prom each year than most other clubs.

    2) Prom definitely gives the impression that it’s okay to have hetero relationships. A GSA alliance isn’t any more about sex than homecoming is (maybe even less). It’s about finding groups of students with a common interest of some kind and delving into those issues together for support. If relationships come about because of it, big whoop. Parents will handle those as they would any hetero-based activity or club that already exists.

    So, let’s be honest. This Principal has strong religious beliefs that forbid homosexuality or a strong fear of gay people because he doesn’t understand them or both, so he’s using the professional argument as a mask. He probably has no problem with football, an activity consuming mucho funds and time devoted to people beating the crap out of each other and slapping each other on the ass.

  • Richard Wade

    Michael said,

    With major cities all around the US seeing a dramatic rise in high school drop outs, the last thing we need in schools are distracting, divisive, and politicized issues. But that is just my opinion. There are a lot of clubs that I think fall into this category.

    I do not see any causal link between school clubs centered around special interests or concerns and the rate of high school drop-outs. If anything these clubs make high school less boring, less alienating and less lonely for kids who are different from the generic kids. So Michael I don’t think you have to worry about these clubs causing drop-outs whether or not they meet during school hours.

    Principal Walker is a social/philosophical dinosaur and the asteroid has struck. Bye, Eddie.

    A club called a Gay/Straight Alliance doesn’t sound like a sex-focused club, it sounds like a social issue-centered club. “Alliance” doesn’t mean corporeal co-mingling, it means working together. These are probably kids who see how their society has been broken in two by bigotry and they’re unifying to fight against that. Good for them! Clubs that encourage awareness about social issues nurture good citizenship.

    If the club was called the Alliance for Racial Harmony nobody would dare object, if it was called Handicapped and Able-bodied Students Working Together nobody would dare object, but homosexuals are the second to last acceptable pariah, so we have all these homophobes posturing and pretending to have concerns about quality education and what’s best for society. Bullshit. Bigots are going extinct. Good riddance.

  • Spurs Fan

    homosexuals are the second to last acceptable pariah,

    This may be a dumb question, but what’s first?

  • Richard Wade

    This may be a dumb question, but what’s first?

    ATHEISTS. The gays are slowly battering down the social structure of hate and fear that has oppressed them and atheists are learning lessons and taking inspiration from their struggle. But we are still a few years behind them. I know people who have no bigotry against gays, people of color, women, foreigners and even people of different religions, but they still cling to their ignorance and loathing of non-believers. A recent poll showed that more people would be willing to vote for a gay presidential candidate than an atheist.

    Persevere.

  • Karen

    Principal Walker is a social/philosophical dinosaur and the asteroid has struck. Bye, Eddie.

    :-) I love it! So true…

  • Adam / Phoenix

    It seems the author of this article is a reversed BIGOT! Anyone who does not agree with your beliefs is called a bigot, homophob or a hatemonger. This principle was sincere in his faith and expressed his disagreement with professionalism that in no way promoted hate.

  • http://mollishka.blogspot.com mollishka

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Hemant. I grew up in the area and am somewhat surprised that a school like Irmo would have trouble with a GSA club (but then, they didn’t exist when I was in high school 10 years ago, and I was much more naive about bigotry in others then than I am now…).

  • mikespeir

    So, let’s be honest. This Principal has strong religious beliefs that forbid homosexuality or a strong fear of gay people because he doesn’t understand them or both, so he’s using the professional argument as a mask

    We’ll agree on that much, Spurs Fan. (BTW having grown up in San Antonio, I like your handle.)

  • Spurs Fan

    ATHEISTS. The gays are slowly battering down the social structure of hate and fear that has oppressed them and atheists are learning lessons and taking inspiration from their struggle. But we are still a few years behind them. I know people who have no bigotry against gays, people of color, women, foreigners and even people of different religions, but they still cling to their ignorance and loathing of non-believers. A recent poll showed that more people would be willing to vote for a gay presidential candidate than an atheist.

    I thought it may be, but it’s strange because I feel less persecuted because of that. I feel like I personally would have to go through more struggles if I was a gay Christian in here rural texas, as opposed to a straight atheist.

    (BTW having grown up in San Antonio, I like your handle.)

    Mikespier,

    I actually grew up in the Austin area, so I’ve been a big fan all of my life!

  • Pingback: High School Principal Resigns Over Gay Student Group | TREYCRUZ.COM - Pop Culture and Media Gossip at its Gayest

  • absent sway

    While GSAs have the potential to make believers very uncomfortable, they are not to be feared by anyone who has honest questions (which is true of so many high schoolers regardless of background when they realize that homosexuals are not some distant foreign creatures to be suspicious of but are people they already know and care about). GSAs make an uncomfortable reality more visible, and I think that in itself is enough to make people wish they wouldn’t be formed. They can more easily pretend that the struggles of gay people don’t affect their lives when they don’t have to be exposed to them as much. My high school was one of the first, if not the first, in my area to form a GSA, which I reluctantly signed the petition for in 12th grade. As a very conservative evangelical at the time, I just wanted to support my friends and have the opportunity for a constructive dialog about these things–I hoped I had done the right thing and worried over it a little. People who think GSAs are about promoting sex should consider that gay high school students (whether out or even simply suspected) are still often subjected to bullying and violence in schools, and it is helpful for them to have a safe place, or a few people they know they can trust if they need help. On a side note, that same year for prom I wanted to bring a friend who had graduated the year before who hadn’t had the chance to go to her prom (and I didn’t have a date), and the school made me sign a form stating that we were not a lesbian couple before they gave me permission to get tickets!

  • Pingback: Friendly Atheist » The Bigot’s Guide to Stopping a Gay/Straight Alliance from Forming

  • Brittany H.

    ok have the parent MAKE THE DECISION FOR THE CHILD WHETHER OR NOT THEY ARE “REALLY GAY”-are you kidding me? Oh wait your not. B/ H/ Irmo ulumni of class 2008, oh and those students at Irmo now, this resignation could have easily came the 1st year Walker taught there-want to know why, bc I attended the 1st GSA meeting to ever grace Irmo, and you know why Ms. Talcove is the representative now, BC one of the girls had her for Spanish and thought that she had the “stuff” and was ACTUALLY ACCEPTING OF GAY People, as well as of Bi and Straight People, that was actually around Early spring semester 2006. oh and at that meeting 1/2 straight, 1/3 by another 1/3 Gay, and a 3 or 4 to 1 Girls to Guys ratio. and then somehow by the end of that year it all fell apart, oh and myself raised Baptist by my Baptist parents who aren’t or rather don’t necessarily feel that Gay people or others “like them” are doomed for hell for their “sexual acts”- BUT I will acknoledge that of ALL the people I know at Irmo whose actual parents feel that way-IT”S RARE! and No no one, extended family included. that I know of in my own family is bi, gay, etc. and no not all of that extended family takes the opinion that my parents have, and if where talking about Politics here uh my parents aren’t LIBERAL in any other way, and they aren’t young either-they both grew up in SC and were born in the early 1950s, so?…-B.H., oh and I am a female and in a “place like Irmo” uh in Walker’s defense um it could’ve easily have been almost ANY Person the School Board has hired in the past for that position in his shoes. but that’s my only “defense” for Mr. Walker.


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