Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"It's just where we are"

I was in a phone conference yesterday and we were talking about some statistics regarding GLBTQ kids in care. One had to do with the youth's (all the youth) perceptions of the level of acceptance among social workers. In my mind it was shockingly low. I found it deeply disturbing that so many of the youth were not confident that the workers were supportive of GLBTQ youth. I started to brain storm on some ideas.

When I finished a (presumably hetero) foster care alum commented, "I think that is just reflective of where society is right now."

I was momentarily speechless.

I think that is why it bothers me right now to the degree that it does. I wish I had been articulate in explaining why complacency in the face of oppression is unacceptable. I wish I had not spent the next 1o seconds sputtering for words and not finding any. And of course the conversation when moved on.

And I woke up this morning still thinking about it. I want to rage against someone. I want to scream. I want to go to this woman, who knows she does not have any problem with homosexuality because she has gay friends, and tell her how deeply offensive it was to say what she said.

"This is where we are right now." Don't expect too much. Don't demand more. So what if half the youth think that program workers are not supportive of queer youth? What else would they think? The youth's perceptions might even be right.

And maybe that is what is bothering me. She did say that last part. That it might not be a perception problem, that the youth may be right about the level of acceptance. She looks at that and shrugs. It is just where the society is. What else can we expect?

I look at that and think, "This is unacceptable. Something must be done."

Martin Luther King was right. He said it so well in the Letter From the Birmingham Jail.

Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used destructively or constructively... Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation.

I know it is not possible to have such eloquence on the spur of the moment, but I wish I had. I wish I have not sputtered. I wish I could have said, "It may be where were are now, but we will not move past this place and unless we see this for the problem it is and respond accordingly.


  1. What you are DOING matters so much more than what is said. I wish too, you could have found the words you wanted, but do not underestimate the importance and strength of what you do every day. It matters a lot. And it changes everything.

  2. I could be wrong, but I think the person said exactly what you are saying. I don't think she was condoning the societal attitude, she was just explaining why things are the way they are. It's something I can see myself saying, to commiserate with someone who understand; "yeah, this totally sucks, and it's just where everyone in this country is!"


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