Monday, March 10, 2008

Accepted!

Andrew didn't send in his applications until just before the deadline. (He so takes after me). He was told he would hear back by the end of March. He got his acceptance letter from his first pick today!!!! I quote: "The Admissions Committee has reviewed your credentials and believes you would make a positive addition to our campus. Additionally, we were inspired by your essay and loved reading every word of it. You truly grasp social justice."

You may or may not remember that this school was his favorite because of their diverse student body and strong commitment to social justice. The fact that it is also located in a favorite city is a plus. Since his essay came from answering questions several of you asked him on his blog, he agrees that I can share it with you. I don't have the final version, but this is close.

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My name is [Andrew] and my family has been fostering since I was around ten years old. I have one younger brother through birth, three older ones through fostering, two siblings both younger than me who didn't end up staying with us, and a bunch of other kids who have stayed with us for respite (temporary care.) The older brothers I have gained through foster care are all gay. This has led some people to ask me how having gay foster brothers has affected my life. My answer is usually that it hasn’t but the way people react to that fact has. It’s a short and easy answer to give but not to explain.

Several years ago, I went with my family to lobby state senators about a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. “It doesn’t bother me that these people live that way. What bothers me is when they flaunt it,” said the senator waving her hand emphatically, a huge golden ring with a large jewel resting on her left ring finger. “I mean we all have the right to choose how we live. But they can’t expect any special exception just for them.” It was about then, standing in front of a state official, that I realized there was something seriously wrong with the world.

In school everyone is taught in history class about slavery and segregation. They know that it is terrible and all about the wonderful people like President Lincoln and MLK Jr. who fought to end it. Despite this almost universal education there is almost no real understanding of racism and discrimination. When you ask most people why people held racist beliefs they will say they don’t really know, or they’ll say it’s because they were ignorant or just bad people. This is only a small part of the truth and profoundly misleading. Discriminatory people aren’t in wholly stupid ignorant or bad, and even more terrifyingly, they can be otherwise intelligent and nice people.

If, when I was growing up, there had been a few mean kids who used nasty words and spouted hateful junk I would have been fine. It would have been unsettling and I would have disliked it but I would it wouldn’t have bothered me all that much. There are some mean people out there; that’s the way the world is. What makes me angry is the institutionalization and intellectual defense of homophobia. Really ignorant hateful people commit terrible hate crimes, but people all too often see that in a vacuum. It is the general acceptance or even the simplest validations of it which allow such things to happen.

I remember when I was a kid out on the playground and hearing some one loudly yell “faggot,” but what makes that memory stand out is that there was a teacher walking by. She did not stop she did not look around and she most definitely did not punish the kid. Perhaps she didn’t hear him, but the fact that I can only remember about two or three instances where I saw a kid being reprimanded for saying something along those lines makes me doubt that. Kids at my school are a hundred times more likely to get into trouble for saying “G*d d*mn it,” or “f**k you” then they are for using homophobic slurs. I hear them yell them in class rooms and in the halls. Though the “n word” would be a shock to hear, it is a rare delight and relief when I actually see a teacher reprimand some one for an anti-gay slur.

What bothers me is not hateful jokes, but when my teacher who went on protests for civil rights in the 60’s off handedly refers to the constitutional ban on gay marriage as “the homo bill.” What bothers me is when a kid is suspended for calling a girl a “c*nt,” but another who reads an entire poem about a football player being a “homo” is left alone. It bothers me that a kid is suspended for saying “wet backs” while another who hounds kids calling them “faggots” everyday is left alone. What bothers me the most is when someone intelligent gives a long winded speech claiming homosexuality is against nature and a choice.

It’s obvious that the people in charge have an understanding of hatred and know it’s wrong. When the topic is racism they understand it, and yet they haven’t any ability to identify that same hatred when it is applied to something only slightly different.

Real discrimination is in the people who understand and still refuse to see the hypocrisy. Real discrimination is in the people who have thought it out and still cling to hatred. Real discrimination is in the powerful who refuse to act when they see hate and bigotry around them. Having gay brothers has attached faces to the sickening amount of hatred that I hear. My brothers are just like any others brothers and I love them very much. The fact that my brothers are gay hasn’t meant much at all, that I was seriously asked “Haven’t you ever been afraid of having gays in your house?” has.
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Pretty cool kid, huh?

And I was finally able to give him the sweatshirt from the school I bought months ago!

***Thanks for all the kind comments! I will be printing them off and giving them to Andrew as they come in.***

17 comments:

  1. Your son is an amazing young man.

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  2. Congratulations Andrew!!!
    Yondalla, I don't think there would be a parent in the world who wouldn't be totally proud of your son. Whoo hoo!

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  3. What a great kid. Thank you for sharing this. It made my day.

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  4. Thanks for sharing this essay. You have an awesome kid.

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  5. Wow. I can't believe this was written by an 18 year old boy. You should definitely be proud.

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  6. Congratulations, Andrew!
    What happy news for you all!

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  7. Wow. I love it. He nailed it. I am linking to this in my blog!!! Thanks for sharing!! --Torina

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  8. Thank you both for sharing that with us!!

    You must be one proud mama!!!

    That was really hard hiting and got the point across!!!

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  9. Awesome essay. I totally agree.
    Please tell Andrew that I am a teacher and I never allow anti gay remarks in my classroom or presence. I will automatically write a kid up if I hear it.

    I have even, probably at the risk of my job, spoken out in favor of gay marriage in my class, in context of course.

    Andrew is truly an inspiration.

    Tell him congratulations on a job well done and on acceptance to his first choice school.

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  10. Bravo, Andrew! You are off to a most excellent start and I wish you the best as you start this journey.

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  11. Wow! Andrew thanks for sharing your very poignant and thoughtful essay. I can't imagine many schools not seeing that mindset as a benefit to their school.

    Thank you. I wish you the best in your new adventures.

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  12. Yay Andrew, wonderful news on an otherwise godawful day! Your essay was great, I am beyond empressed!

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  13. It is a wonderfull essay and I am so happy for you to go to a school where this is admired the way it sould be!

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  14. This essay pretty much brings tears to my eyes. It is so hard to find straight people - let alone a straight teenager (speaking as a gay one, I KNOW the ignorance of straight adolesents and it ain't pretty) who GETS IT. Not just nice, liberal lefties who say we should be able to get married and have kids; not just people who smile politely when I mention my girlfriend 'cause flinching wouldn't be PC; but someone who GETS IT. Someone who is offended by homophobic slurs and angered by institutionalised heterosexism. Someone who can, shock horror, actually IDENTIFY it.

    Too often, I encounter homophobia without expecting it and am shaken enough to remember that I am not yet safe. But every now and again, I come across things like this, and am reminded that one day, I will be.

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  15. It brought tears to my eyes too. What an excellent essay and I can truly see he does "get it." What a credit to your parenting and what a credit to the kind of man he has become.

    Congratulations on the acceptance!!!!!!

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  16. I am so happy I found your blog! Your son's essay is amazing. He is a talented writer and has a bright future ahead with such a caring, thoughtful heart to educate the ignorant. This subject is very special to me. I wish we could clone your Andrew. Thank you for sharing. I will be linking to this from my blog.

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Comments will be open for a little while, then I will be shutting them off. The blog will stay, but I do not want either to moderate comments or leave the blog available to spammers.