Saturday, November 29, 2008

Intolerance and High School

Another guest post from my friend Mary. She teaches an early-morning mormon seminary class for high school students (it starts at 6:10am). Her students are studying the new testament this year.

Hello friends and family,

I thought you might like to see what it is and has been like here in San Diego as we have tried to advocate for traditional marriage and work to pass Proposition 8.

Though our family has experience plenty of prejudice and hateful commentary, I think the experiences of my Seminary students (ages 14-17) best illustrate the atmosphere that surrounds us.

Their strength in the face of immeasurable peer pressure has amazed me during the entire campaign season and continues to do so as activists wage war on LDS beliefs as the scapegoats for their anger.

My question to myself throughout this entire ordeal has been, would I be as strong as I see these teenagers being? Have I given as much socially and emotionally as they have to the cause?

Fighting for your beliefs is never about selfish martyrdom, but it may often be about personal sacrifice. That these kids have been asked to give such a personal sacrifice at such a young age should strengthen all of our resolve (meaning those of us who can vote) to protect their tomorrow.

We talked on Election Day about tolerance. I encouraged them to have tolerance toward and love everyone no matter what their belief. And for all intents and purposes, they had already been following that principle. But it prompted discussion regarding what they are asked to do in the face of intolerance and hatred directed AT them, and they wrote the following anonymous experiences on slips of paper.

These are from them, in their own words, when asked: “How have you seen or experienced prejudice or intolerance in your life?” I did not ask them specifically about Prop 8 but their answers are telling:

  • “People won’t talk to me because of my opinion of Prop 8.”
  • “Called a bigot at school.”
  • “A girl in my CPU class yesterday was saying bad things about the guy who was dressed up in Yes on 8 stuff. I defended him.”
  • “People are calling me bigoted and judgmental for my beliefs in the sacredness of marriage.”
  • “Eggs thrown at me for my beliefs.”
  • “People in class wouldn’t hear my side about Prop 8. Wouldn’t even listen to my opinion and got mad at me for not agreeing with them.”
  • “Everyone gangs up on me in class for my political beliefs.”

If you want to know how the same-sex marriage agenda will effect religious beliefs, you need look no further than the local High School.

I am very proud of the work that everyone did in California to pass this Proposition.

It may only buy us time, but it will allow us to look further into the consequences of such a decision.