Did That Just Happen?
Back in my high school days I was an awkward, overweight band geek with a unique fashion sense (my signature colors were yellow urban camouflage and tie-dye...sometimes worn together). Even though I was not publicly "out" at the time, I realized later that a number of my peers were aware that I was gay. Even those who didn't know for sure likely made the assumption at some point in time. I also want to mention that I was chosen as the Homecoming Queen of the graduating class of 2006 at Waverly High School.
Over the past week, Waverly High School has come under intense nation-wide scrutiny for the Chris Brown/Rihanna pep rally skit that took place during the school's annual Homecoming event, the crowning of Mr. Waverly. When I heard about the display that had taken place, I literally felt sick to my stomach. My first thought was, "this couldn't have happened at my school," but it most certainly did and that breaks my heart. What has been even more upsetting is the number of people who don't see a problem with what happened. Domestic violence and and racial stereotyping are in no way shape or form okay and they should not be made light of in an academic setting. One of the most common arguments I keep coming across is that this particular incident has been satirized numerous times on television. This is true, but that does not give merit to it having a place in school. Every day young adults are becoming desensitized to serious social issues because of mass media and it is the responsibility of our educational system to put these issues in an appropriate context.
The whole reason I am choosing to speak out is because I not only want to express support to my friend, Matt Dishler, for bringing this issue to light, but also because I do not want the nation thinking that Waverly is a town full of bigots. Did the administration make a mistake and is this incident a serious issue? Yes, absolutely. That being said, I will always love my alma mater and what it gave me. Based on the description I gave at the beginning of this article of the "teenage me," I'm sure it wouldn't be surprising for you to think I had been bullied at some point during my high school career. Not once. I was never taunted for being overweight, for the odd fashion statements I made, or for being gay. I broke just about every stereotype for being a "normal" teenage kid and I was still accepted and respected. I cannot speak for everyone because we all have very different experiences, but I know I am not the only person who still looks back on their years at Waverly fondly. I can confidently say that going to Waverly High School encouraged me to be who I am and make no apologies for it.
While the area in which the high school is located lacks racial diversity, it does still have a population of individuals that come from all different backgrounds and walks of life. I can only hope that this incident will spark meaningful discussion on how Waverly High School, and schools across the nation, can create even more respect for diversity and address important issues like domestic violence in the future. Based on my history with the school, I am confident that steps will be taken to right this wrong through education so instances like this do not happen again.