It's amazing that when it comes to an issue like gay rights that some people can be so narrow-minded and intolerant. I know that seems like an odd way to start a post about defending Joe Martins, but in this case I think the narrow-minded and intolerant ones are those who standing on the "political correctness" soap-box and would prefer to lash out instead of listen.
A little over a week ago Joe found himself in hot water when he proposed a change to the student handbook at Durfee High School. Martins brought up a point of concern regarding the Gay Straight Alliance's involvement in the Boston's Youth Pride Parade. Mr Martins wanted to make sure that parents were aware that if their children were involved in the Alliance that they would have the option of participating in the parade. He wanted parents to have an understanding of what their children may be exposed to if they are involved in the Youth Gay Pride Parade. Personally I saw this as nothing more than the committeeman wanting to make sure that parents were properly informed of what their children may be exposed to and give them the opportunity to decide if they felt it was something they wanted to their child to go to. However his fellow committee member Marilyn Roderick was highly offended by what she perceived to be Martins bigoted and religious views. After the story was reported in the Herald it spurned a letter to the editor and an editorial, both condemning Joe for his daring to question if the parade was a suitable event for all families and all children. And yesterday I heard a WSAR editorial that further spit on the intentions of Mr. Martins.
That night Joe brought up several good points before discussing the Gay Straight Alliance. The first three points all addressed improving standards for educational excellence from raising the passing grade bar (currently a meager 60), changing GPA guidelines for vocational and technical education courses, and the last involved tightening the language on early graduation requirements. It's a shame that the Herald did not find any of those topics worthy of discussion and instead focused solely on the one that caused controversy. It's a shame that Mrs. Roderick introduced the first truly ugly sentiments of the night by accusing Joe of bigotry as if there would be no other reason to possibly question it.
The fact is this has little to do with gay rights or Mr. Martins personal or religious views regarding them, despite what the reactionary and close minded would have you believe. This has everything to do with allowing parents to decide what is appropriate for their child to take part of and be exposed to. I would be willing to bet if the alliance and the parade had nothing to do with homosexuality but instead focused on heterosexual teens and would have kids handing out free condoms and provocatively dressed adults and candid references to sexual preferences and activities NO ONE would have questioned Joe's motives. I'd also be willing to bet parents would be outraged not to have been better informed before.
Of course I would imagine such things are not the true focus of the parade and in reality is only a minor part but it is a part. Why do these concerns turn into bigotry, intolerance, and insensitivity just because it involves a gay pride parade? I think Joe is right to believe that some parents would object to their child being involved in this parade, not because of some intolerance to homosexuality, but because their child may be exposed to things that as a parent they might not feel are appropriate for children of a certain age. In that context it really isn't much different that wondering if parents should be notified when the class in going to see a movie with possibly objectionable language or violence, or go to a museum that may expose children to the images of naked men and women? I don't think so. And somehow I doubt if Joe raised concerns on those issues that anyone would label him as being against cinema or against the arts.