Punishing Student for Anti-Gay News Article Won't Help Our Kids

gay prideIt's not every day I feel bad for a homophobe. But then again, it's not every day a teenager comes right out with gay hating vitriol in their high school newspaper, complete with Bible quotes justifying putting homosexuals to death. And yet, I'm giving Brandon Wegner a pass? Crazy, I know.

But Wegner's piece was part of a point/counterpoint run on the editorial page of Shawano High School's Hawks Post. On the opposite side was a piece in full support of gay parents adopting children written by the Wisconsin high school paper's copy editor, Maddie Marquardt.


I'm not surprised that the gay families in the Shawano school district are upset. I'm not surprised they've called the school's administration to sanction Wegner. What he said shakes me to my core. Here's just a taste:

if one is a practicing Christian, Jesus states in the Bible that homosexuality is (a) detestable act and sin which makes adopting wrong for homosexuals because you would be raising the child in a sin-filled environment. Leviticus 20:13 states "If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woan, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltness is upon them."

I tasted bile as I read it, and yet, in the manner it was presented, on an op ed page, with a balanced opinion, I can't support a school that would punish the teen who wrote it, and not only because I'm a journalist with a firm belief in the importance of free speech. It's because I try to be a good parent.

Kids need to read both sides. Kids need to form their own opinions. And hopefully (cross your heart and lick your elbow), kids in the Shawano High School seeing this piece by Brandon Wegner used their outrage for good: telling this teenager exactly why he's wrong. After all, how are kids going to learn to stand up for what they believe in if they're never challenged to do so?

Believe it or not, being a parent isn't about shielding our kids from the evils of the world. It's about protecting them.

Don't see the difference? Here's an example: a parent who lives in a freezing cold climate does not build a heated bubble around their child so they never experience cold. They put a coat, hat, and pair of mittens on the little tot to protect from the bitter wind, thereby teaching the child to safely navigate an unsafe condition. 

It is a big, bad, scary world out here, and the only way we're going to ready our kids to face it is by letting them know that it's hard, but manageable.

What's the scariest thing you've had to decide your kids really should deal with themselves?


Image via Guillaume Paumier/Flickr

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