What’s in a name? “Safe Zone” is only for the gays, right? 5/18/14

Screen Shot 2014-05-17 at 8.35.31 PM
Google images search for “safe zone”

Well, actually, no.

“But,” you’ll say, “if I Google ‘Safe Zone’, everything that comes back is about gays! How can it not be just for the gays?”

I’ll ask, “Did you check with the students and their school advisor to see if this was a “gay” thing?”

You’ll have to respond, I suspect, with, “uh, no, I didn’t. I just Googled the phrase.”

Mayor Cameron Hamilton, at the May 6, 2014 Porterville City Council meeting, in response to a proposal to have students come before the council and give a presentation asking the City to support an anti-bullying “Safe Zone” program they were developing locally, was not amused. He was against the entire idea, and said bullying victims should stand up for themselves “and grow a pair” (I wonder if he even has a glimmering of understanding about how sexist that comment is? Or how the AP’s story about his comments has spread around the country?  He’s not shining a favorable light on Porterville, that’s for sure).  Former Mayor and current council member Virginia Gurrola, who had made the proposal, said to Mayor Hamilton, that “would be a bit difficult for a ten year old girl”.  Not impressed with that comment, Hamilton said other ten year old girls should band together to defend her.  He seemed to miss the entire point, which is a recurring theme with him.

Here’s what I think happened. As soon as Councilwoman Gurrola made the request, Hamilton, Shelton, and Ward all Googled “Safe Zone”.  Since many programs nationwide use the same name, and many of them are LGBT related, the red (rainbow) flag went up, flapping furiously.  (well, the rainbow flag would have been flapping fabulously, but that’s an entirely different flag pole than what we’re dealing with here.)

Now, since the Three Stooges (with apologies to Larry, Moe, and Curly (and Shemp) -again-) are loath to touch anything LGBT related, they immediately went into “Oh, HELL no!” mode.

safe_zone Now, what was actually proposed at the meeting, but which got lost in the homophobia and ignorance of the current triumvirate, was a request by Gurrola to have the students present their program and seek city support for their anti-bullying ‘safe zone’ program (mostly by designating various city facilities as ‘safe zones’).

Red flags flapped furiously.  “Propoganda”.  “Training”. “Not for everyone”.

Those evil gays are looking to hoodwink poor innocent kids into the gay lifestyle by…

What, exactly?  Having places that have agreed to shelter kids if they need help?  Adults who will call a child’s parents, or the school, or the police?  If LGBT is included in an overall anti-bullying campaign, it’s gay propaganda?  The sad thing about the whole brouhaha, lost in the homophobia and anti-gay animus, is that the student’s program said nothing about LGBT.  Even one of the three, Shelton, had to admit that when directly asked by Councilwoman Gurrola, as he had been at the same meeting she was regarding the program.  (I wonder if it’s indicative of anything that it ended up being Councilwoman Gurrola presenting it to the city council, and not Shelton. Does anyone think they asked him?)

As she stated in the meeting, Councilwoman Gurrola was not willing to invite the students to the Council Chambers to make their presentation if they were going to be met with the hostility on display at that night’s council meeting.  In the open comments periods of the meeting several people spoke against the program, even though they really knew nothing about it – but it might have something that included the LGBT student population, and they won’t have that.  It was apparent that if the students were invited to speak, there would be residents (and council members) speaking against the program, fueled by both ignorance and anti-gay animosity.  It was evident that the presentation would get derailed by homophobia and animus, so she pulled the item from the next meeting’s agenda.  Appropriately, she did not want students to get caught up in the current council’s (and some public) animosity towards the LGBT community.

The students will have to continue with their project without city support.


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