SAGE gets recognition in Maple Grove, MN

pineapple sageWell, whadya know? Chalk up one more for the students in Maple Grove High School who not only found a way to befriend their straight buddies, but who also beat up the school administration officials who marginalized them!

Good job, kids! You’ve discovered your similarities, embraced your differences, and you formed a bond and you fought back against those who tried to divide you and keep you down. By educating yourselves, you learned that forming that bond of friendship can’t be broken and will be respected if you’re willing to fight for it.

SAGE, or Straights And Gays for Equality, found themselves on the blunt end of being afforded bulletin-board space or access to the public announcement system. If SAGE wanted to hold a gathering on school grounds, they apparently had to pass notes because the schools administration had decided that SAGE wasn’t relevant to the school curriculum.

In her ruling, [Judge Joan] Ericksen wrote that the school had violated the federal Equal Access Act by allowing other extracurricular groups — such as cheerleading or synchronized swimming — the chance to use school bulletin boards or the public address system, a right denied to SAGE.

Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 9/26/2007: Maple Grove High gay rights group wins ruling.

Mike and Ann CiresiThe two founding students contacted the ACLU-MN who filed the suit in September 2005. DFL-Senate candidate Mike Ciresi’s law-firm Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, L.L.P volunteered to argue the case on behalf of the group.

In May of 2006, the Judge ordered a stay for the group allowing them to go ahead and put up posters in the hallways and be given access for a place to meet while the courts heard the case. Since that decision, SAGE has grown from two student members to now twenty.

Since Ericksen placed a temporary injunction on the school last year, requiring equal rights for SAGE, membership in the group has jumped from three to about 20.

SAGE serves an excellent opportunity for both the heterosexual and homosexual students.

“Why?” you ask?

Well I’m glad you did because yesterday, Science Daily published a story on a research project that studied the link between victimizing (bullying/harassing) gay men and women and the rate of suicide. The focus of the study was on the link between the victimizing and the suicide and the resulting research was stunning.

The report noted that suicide among gay college students is twice as high as it is for heterosexual students. This is nothing new – they’ve known for years that gay students, pressured to fit in, getting beaten up or bullied causes the student to feel diminished until he/she would rather be dead. But the surprise in the research was that heterosexual students who have a crush on someone of the same sex, or they’ve had a homosexual experience, have three times the suicide rate over their heterosexual colleagues.Macalulay culkin

University of Washington researcher Heather Murphy also uncovered a group of students who previously had not been studied and are at increased risk for suicidal behavior. These students identified themselves as heterosexual, but also reported being attracted to people of the same sex or engaging in same-sex behavior.

This group was three times as likely as heterosexuals to have made a plan to commit suicide in the past year and six times more likely to have actually attempted suicide in the same period. Gay, lesbian and bisexual students also were at increased risk for suicidal behavior. They were twice as likely as heterosexuals to have planned and to have attempted suicide in the previous year.

You just know who these kids are, don’t you? These are the kids that are children whose parents are crazy-like religious nuts or they’re the jocks. They know they’re straight, but they’re haunted by their attraction – too scared to come out – too guilty to stay in. They had an encounter and now they don’t know what to think – where to go – what to do!

Data from the questionnaires showed that gay, lesbian and bisexuals and the same-sex attracted heterosexuals experienced significantly more verbal and physical victimization than did heterosexual students.
Verbal victimization included homophobic statements, hearing others talk about gays, lesbian and bisexuals in derogatory terms, and being harassed for their sexual orientation. Physical victimization included being physically threatened or assaulted and getting into fights. Murphy said victimization for some students was “pervasive” on campus while others didn’t want to go off campus because they feared being harassed or would only visit areas of Seattle popular with gays in groups.

“There is a lot of hype that gay kids are more suicidal,” she said. “My study shows that this is not so. In my study, being victimized for being gay was the risk factor that increased suicidal- behavior risk.”

Groups like SAGE resolves these problems. Young people can not only find safety in numbers, but they can learn how to feel secure in their sexual orientation – whether gay or not. A same-sex encounter does not make a person gay any more than eating spinach makes you a vegetarian. FruitFly 6

Besides… Everybody knows already: If you’re gay – you must first get a license from the World Gay Committee. You have to apply, fill out a short questionnaire , wait three weeks and you’ll get your complete “How To Be Gay” welcome package. Duh!!!

Don’t believe me? Leave me a comment and I’ll leave you the web wink! <wink wink>