, Salem, MA


March 27, 2012

Letter: High school students much more accepting than they were three decades ago

To the editor:

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a performance by the Boston Children's Theater titled "Reflections of a Rock Lobster." I accompanied a group of students who are members of our Diversity Alliance Club here at Manchester Essex Regional High School.

This outstanding performance caused me to reflect on how far we have come in embracing all students regardless of color, religion, ethnicity or sexual preference. Today's school communities have a mindset that supports the thinking that everyone should be treated with the respect due to them. Thankfully, this way of thinking is reinforced by the law.

The play's cast was made up of a number of teenagers and adult actors. The story involves a gay high school student who wants to take a male companion to the prom in the spring of 1980.

Aaron Fricke of Cumberland, R.I., became a gay-rights poster child when he sued in U.S. District Court for the right to attend his senior prom with a male date. The judge in the case ruled in favor of Fricke, and he attended the prom with heavy security and without incident.

While in high school, Aaron was taunted and harassed pretty much on a daily basis simply because he was gay. The year 1980 may seem a long time ago, but it really isn't when considered in the context of our nation's history. Sadly, at that time, people did not always treat others with the respect all people deserve.

High schools then were a different place than they are today.

We are much better equipped to handle situations like this and are more accepting of people who don't fit into certain categories.

Schools today, generally speaking, are safer and more tolerant places in which to grow up. Racism and homophobic language are never tolerated.

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