When I was in high school, I had a teacher, Ms. C, who was fired from her previous school in central California for teaching “The Laramie Project.” It is a play depicting the investigation of a hate crime/murder of Matthew Shepard, an openly gay student in Laramie, Wyoming. The community opened fired against her because she believed that the book gave a unique perspective of the community with which Shepard was part of – hence explaining the kind of hate that has to grow within a community to come to such violence.
It seems far off, but reading about this article reminded me of Ms. C. Idaho teacher Tim McDaniels is under fire after saying the word “vagina” during tenth-grade science class in Dietrich, Idaho. He is currently under investigations by the Idaho professional standards commission after allegedly saying “vagina” in class, showing a video that showed a depiction of genital herpes and different methods of birth control. The class was informed that the topic would be sexual health and that they need not attend if the subject makes them uncomfortable.
Vagina is one of the most correct terms that could be used to refer to women’s genitalia. The article refers to the community as conservative, which explains the resistance to McDaniels’ teaching methods. Why is it so hard for a community of people to collectively agree that the word “vagina” is appropriate? Why is it so hard for a community of people to agree that the bullying and murder of a single teenager in Laramie is wrong especially if it is because he is gay?
Community is probably one of the most important shapers of individual identities, and it’s a large force of change and resistance. If we don’t realize as a community that there is something inherently wrong with persecuting a teacher for saying a politically correct term or teaching a book that highlights hate crimes against the LGBTQ community, nothing will change.