Tuesday, February 12, 2013

An open letter to Diana Medley

(For background, here's an article about Diana Medley and her attempt to organize a straight-only prom)

Dear Ms. Medley,

I notice you are a Special Ed teacher.  As someone who provides in school support to a whole range and spectrum of students, I thank you.  Teaching can be a difficult field and Special Ed is among the greatest challenges for anyone in the field.  But, did you know that not that long ago people would have suggested there was no purpose for your students to exist?

Parents of cognitive and physically disabled children were often encouraged by doctors to put their children in institutions as they would never be able to have a "normal" life.  We now know that what happened in those institutions were often a horrific nightmare for those children with no purpose... mistakes of nature that just happened.

Look at your dyslexic students or the ones on the spectrum.  There was a time when they would have been beaten up on a regular basis, called names and been written off as having no real purpose.

I suspect that you look at your students and see purpose in them.  You look and see their smiles, their potential and the lessons they have to teach the world - yourself included.  Yet these are the same kids that were once hidden away and written off.

Now you honestly stated that you see no purpose in LGBTQI people.

Have you ever been moved by a poem by Walt Whitman?  Marveled at a photograph by Annie Liebowitz?  Has Lilly Tomlin ever made you laugh so hard your sides hurt on a day when your world was falling apart?  Did you dance to Ricky Martin's "Living La Vida Loca" because you just couldn't help yourself?  If so, then there is a purpose to LGBTQI people in your life.  The clothes you wear, the decor in your home, the art you enjoy, the technology you use and so many other things have purpose and may have been created by one of those people that had no purpose you could see at the moment in time.

To be honest, I have no idea what the Divine Plan may be.  I just know that I try to live a good and moral life according to a story about the great Jewish scholar, Maimonides.  It is said that a scornful man approached the great sage knowing Maimonides was exhausted and demanded the sage tell him the meaning of the Torah while standing on one foot.  He took a moment to think, stood on one foot and said, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to others.  All else is commentary, now go and study."

You need to live those words (or the Christian variants: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and "Judge not lest you be judged") and stop pretending to know what the Divine Plan may be.  We are all taught that there is a time and a purpose to everything under heaven.  When you look at your students as you go forward, remember that.  Just because you don't understand what the purpose may be does not mean you should write off or hide away any student no matter what it is that offends or disturbs you.  At one time those statements were made about students like yours.

You've been given a great opportunity here, open your heart and learn.  Perhaps, if nothing else, the purpose of those LGBTQI students you hold at arm's length is to teach you.  I invite you to keep your heart open, your defenses down and accept.  Two girls or two boys together at prom are no big deal in a world where children come to school hungry, watch their parents go to war and so many real problems.  This is not one of them.

Pray, meditate, do whatever you have to do but remember that when push comes to shove, none of us should speak for the Creator, the Divine has their own voice and it is echoed loudly by the world around us.


Karla Hailer

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