You may have already heard the story about Graeme Taylor, but it deserves to be spread.
Ann Arbor, Michigan, Howell High teacher Jay McDowell had been suspended without pay “for two days for asking a student to remove her Confederate flag belt buckle and for ejecting two students from class after a heated exchange about gay rights.”
At a school board meeting, one of his students — a 14-year-old gay teen named Graeme Taylor — came to his defense with a heartfelt speech:
My father is Kirk Taylor. He is a teacher at Hartland and he tells me about things that go on in this area and it seems like a nice community. I myself am gay and I’m a young person and that can cause lots of trouble.
And when you hear things like Dr. King’s speech that one day he wanted his grandchildren, his posterity to not be judged on the color of their skin but the content of their character, I hope that one day we too can be judged on the content of our character, and not who we love.
Howell is the headquarters for the Klu Klux Klan. Does that really sound great on your racism record, the fact that they chose this city to come into? And you probably want to get rid of that. So how would you like more headlines like “Howell denies gays,” “Howell doesn’t protect them.”
This teacher [points] whom I fully support, finally stood up and said something. I’ve been in rooms, in classrooms where children have said the worst kinds of things, the kinds of things that helped drive me to a suicide attempt when I was only 9 years old.
These are things that hurt a lot. There is a silent holocaust out there in which an estimated six million gay people every year kill themselves. It this really the environment you want for a school? Do we really want this on our record?
Now I’m saying that the best thing you can do right now is just give him his pay from that day and just reverse the disciplinary action. He did an amazing thing. He did something that has inspired a lot of people. And whenever, ever, I have teachers stand up for me like that, they change in my eyes.
I support Jay McDowell and I hope you do too.
McDowell is appealing the decision. He’s “back at work while his grievance is pending.”
I don’t know where that “six million gay people every year kill themselves” stat came from (it’s not accurate), but the sentiment is inspiring.
I love it when kids have no problem standing up for what’s right when so many adults wouldn’t dare speak up in that situation.
(Thanks to everyone for the link)