March 18, 2009
The Laramie Project in schools
[This began as a comment on Vanessa’s post over on Feministing, but it started to get long-winded enough that I figured I might as well post it on my own blog.]
I think I can see the CYA/”plausible deniability” tactic inherent in the district saying Taylor wasn’t forced to resign “because of homosexuality” — I’ll bet their rationale would/will be that Taylor was forced to resign because of insubordination. According to the USA Today article*, “Taylor says she was let go for complaining to the board member” about the principal’s actions.
Now, mind you, I’m not saying that makes it okay, I’m just saying that’s probably their excuse.
This hits particularly close to home for me given that I showed The Laramie Project to my 100-level (college) English comp students one semester a few years ago. I did get one complaint that I was forcing my politics on the class, but for the most part my students seemed pretty receptive — as did Taylor’s students, from what little is discussed in the USA Today article. It gives me hope that as the younger generations get old enough to vote and get more involved with running for office and whatnot, we’ll be able to progress on the LGBTQ-rights front.
(It also makes me grateful that as a general rule, in theory, one doesn’t have to deal with parents when teaching at the college level. There’s little doubt in my mind that the principal in question had his change of heart because a parent complained, or at least because he feared a parental complaint.)
*On a fairly tangential note, I don’t know what to make of the article’s title, which refers to The Laramie Project as a “gay-themed film.” It’s about a man who was brutally murdered because he was gay, and how the community responded to his death. So, I guess “gay-themed” is accurate because the subject matter includes what it’s like to be gay, but it seems overly simplistic, and I think it also speaks to the ghettoization of LGBTQ art, film, and literature (and this is often true of ethnic art, film, and literature as well), because I would argue that the dominant culture has more to learn from this film than your average LGBTQ person does. But that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish, I suppose.