The survey was distributed to students by an 'anti-queer association' at Anna-Jonesboro Community High School in Anna, Illinois.
Trigger warning: This story contains themes of transphobia and homophobia that some readers may find distressing.
A southern Illinois high school is facing a severe backlash over a transphobic and homophobic survey that was distributed to students on campus. The survey was designed by an 'anti-queer association' at Anna-Jonesboro Community High School in Anna, Illinois, and asked students if they thought it was ok for queer people to share a bathroom with 'normal people.' The survey was shared online by an alum of the high school, Christopher Mark, who was disgusted by the survey. "Actions like these are how hate crimes are initiated and even result in teen suicide," noted Mark.
According to the survey, the document was the work of students of AJCHS, reported Comicsands. "This is about all the QUEER Kids in this school." "This is a vote for all the students of AJCHS, this is not public you do not have to put your name on it or anything like that all we need is a check YES or NO." The two options provided made apparent the bigotry of the survey.
a) (YES) I WANT QUEERS TO GO IN THE BATHROOM
b) (NO) I DON'T WANT QUEER KIDS TO GO TO THE BATHROOM WITH US NORMAL PEOPLE
The use of the word 'normal' to refer to cishet students wasn't lost on Christopher Mark or many others who came across the survey. The school promised there would be consequences for those behind the bigoted survey. School superintendent Rob Wright said he was made aware of the survey. "I can tell you that this type of harassment is taken very seriously and will not be tolerated," said Wright. "And once the investigation is complete, the appropriate discipline will take place where warranted."
"Apparently, a staff member's son created this document.….," wrote Mark, before calling on the school to protect the students. "To the LGBTQ+ Students, hang on and remain strong, it does get better. There is life after high school and it is glorious. Remember, normal is just a setting on the dryer," wrote Mark.
The responses to Mark's post showed how concerned many were by the survey. "This is heartbreaking. Kids are shaped by their environment. For this to say “normal people” shows that some of these youth have been taught homophobic tendencies, to be unaccepting of others, and an overall marginalized perspective. We need to do better. We can do better," wrote Hale. Wilson commented, "Hate is sadly all too close to the surface. The dehumanization and phobia shown here against queer folk is a poison." Many alumni and parents with kids enrolled at the school were highly critical of Principal Brett Detering. A 2019 expose in ProPublica Illinois revealed that Anna-Jonesboro's entire staff was White.
"My understanding is that it was an association that was brought upon the students and a parent that's cosigning for it that made the anti-queer association, basically trying to repeal the Keep Youth/Children Safe [and Healthy] Act," said Michael Coleman, one of the board directors at The Rainbow Cafe LGBTQ Center in Carbondale, Illinois. "They really feel very unsafe in that environment in Anna-Jonesboro and that they felt that nothing was going to get done." The Keep Youth/Children Safe and Healthy Act was a law passed in the state to mandate Illinois schools to teach sexual health education and LGBTQ+ inclusive curriculum. The Rainbow Cafe LGBTQ Center posted stats highlighting that a majority of transgender students feel unsafe at their schools, which in turn affects their GPAs. They also pointed out the statistic of suicide rates among transgender teens.
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