Friday, April 26, 2013

Six Degrees of Discrimination? 

I was so disturbed as I read this article. While racism is still a part of the current fight for civil rights, the issue of homophobia and discrimination against LGBT people, particularly students at a high school prom, is still a violation of civil rights. Isaak Wolfe, a transgender student at Red Lion Area Senior High School in York County, Pennsylvania, was nominated for prom royalty; however, instead of being nominated for Prom King, principal Mark Shue placed Wolfe on the ballot for Prom Queen under his birth name. Who does that? What kind of person would do that to another human being? To secretly go behind someone's back and violate them in such a way as this is cruel and a severe violation of human rights. Shame on Shue for going to such extremes simply because he was "uncomfortable with putting Wolfe's name on the boys' list."

Unfortunately, Wolfe is not the only LGBT student to have been discriminated against by faculty or citizens in the community. At the bottom of the article, there is a slide show of LGBT students posing with their prom dates. A few of the captions state that the couples were denied entrance to their junior and senior proms simply because of their sexuality. I am ashamed to say that my high school did the same thing as well, and the faculty did not let same-sex couples purchase prom tickets. In Sullivan, Indianna, a group of residents proposed having a non-school sanctioned "traditional" prom, one that would ban gay students. These stories have civil rights violation written all over them. To deny any individual any kind of political or social freedom or equality is a violation of civil rights.

What do you think of this? Am I wrong in saying that denying a person's preference is a violation of civil rights? How has the Civil Rights Movement changed over the years in terms of the people fighting for civil rights? Are subcategories of civil rights necessary to differentiate between the "type" of civil rights violation, or does it even matter the "type" of discrimination? I do not think that there are varying degrees of discrimination; rather, there is discrimination and there is acceptance.


  1. I also believe that denying a person’s preference is a violation of civil rights. Your blog post made me think of Justice Cameron’s lecture Gay Rights are Civil Rights, in which he discussed how gay rights are the civil rights battle of this century. However, gay rights are a more difficult subject to approach. It’s easy to see why racism is wrong, because people are born and cannot change the color of their skin. However, some people would argue that being gay is a preference and therefore is not a true civil rights issue because the people choose to be that way. I disagree with this idea; many people have fought their sexuality vehemently, especially when it contradicted with their religious or moral beliefs.
    The same is true for transgender students. They do not choose to be that way, but instead feel as though they are trapped inside the wrong body. Isaak Wolfe felt like a male, and therefore he should have been nominated for Prom King even if he was born a female. I am interested to see how both this instance and the entire gay rights movement plays out. Maybe in fifty years, the movement will be studied in college classes and there will be a new civil rights movement emerging.

  2. What is most disturbing to me about this article is the fact that faculty members have not only condoned prejudice toward LGBT students but have encouraged it. The faculty and staff of schools are responsible for maintaing welcoming and discrimination free campuses. I cannot imagine how Wolfe felt knowing that his principal violated his civil rights. As the highest school authority, principles set the standard for all of the school's faculty members and students. What lengths will students now go to to discriminate against Wolfe, after their principle has made it okay? These ADULTS need to take responsibilty for how their actions affect those of their students.