A new story in NEA Today, the official magazine of the National Education Association, profiles Central High School art teacher Lynn Smith, the faculty advisor to Central's Gay/Straight Alliance. The article begins with a harrowing description of the straight-on-gay bullying suffered by Little Rock resident Jeana Huie. Huie -- a friend of transgender woman Lucie Hamilton, who died during a voodoo ritual in New Jersey-- was featured in an Arkansas Times cover story about the case, written by David Koon.
More than anything, Smith believes, with all his heart, that it’s okay to be yourself. Whether that’s a middle-aged Southerner with a same-sex spouse or a curly-haired teen with a penchant for Japanese food and other girls, it’s okay. And that’s a message that resonates with kids, especially those questioning their sexual orientation or suffering taunts from other kids about perceived “gayness.”
For those kids who aren’t sure what they are (although their bullies seem to know), the risks are particularly high. While GLBT students are nearly twice as likely to consider dropping out, questioning students are seven times more likely. Thankfully, for those kids at Central, they can always visit Smith’s classroom. He didn’t fit in either, he says.