I can't even begin to imagine how this case is going to play out. Given the spectacular silence that has descended upon the Jacksonville, Arkansas, school district -- despite the fact that, since the child and his parents are talking about everything publicly, confidentiality can hardly be cited as a reason for not speaking -- one wonders whether the entire truth will ever come out.
News & Politics | The price of coming out in Jacksonville | March 21, 2003 (Arkansas Times): Let's get this out of the way first: This story is largely one-sided. It's written primarily from the perspective of 14-year-old Thomas McLaughlin, his family and friends - their version of the harassment he says he's endured at the hands of several teachers and administrators at Jacksonville Junior High School because of his sexual orientation . It does not include any response from the educators involved. Those that could be reached say they've been instructed to keep quiet by Pulaski County schools superintendent Don Henderson, who is investigating. Henderson won't say whether any of them have denied Thomas' allegations. So if there is any evidence that would call into question the ninth-grader's version of events, it will not appear in this story. [....] The basics, according to Thomas and his parents: About 18 months ago, a science teacher overheard Thomas refuse to deny to another boy that he was gay. The science teacher told Assistant Principal Sharon Hawk, who pulled Thomas out of class and told him he had until the end of the day to figure out how to tell his parents, or the school would do it for him. Later that afternoon, with Thomas in her office, a counselor at the school called Thomas' mother and told her he was having feelings for other males.
That incident started a string of harassment and discrimination at the hands of at least seven educators at Jacksonville Junior High, Thomas said.
o Four of them quoted scripture to him on several occasions.
o Two made him read Bible verses in their classroom or office.
o One, a typing teacher, repeatedly called him "abnormal" and "weird"
o He was forbidden to talk about being gay - deemed an "inappropriate subject" by school officials - or about punishment he received for breaking that rule, including having to read the Bible in Assistant Principal Emanuel McGhee's office.
o He was sent to the office repeatedly for talking about being gay, and was finally suspended for two days in January after a teacher overheard him tell a friend about what happened in McGhee's office.
A subsequent threat to suspend Thomas for four days because he discussed the two-day suspension with another friend finally pushed Thomas' parents, Delia and Tom McLaughlin, over the edge. Delia wrote a letter to the ACLU, and they began their investigation. [....] Thomas' story starts about 18 months ago, in his eighth-grade science class. As he told it earlier this week, sitting on his family's couch next to three female friends from school, he revealed himself as a largely typical 14-year-old, equipped with a generous dose of lip and a determination to let as much of the harassment as possible roll off his back.
One fall day in 2001, Thomas said, another boy in the science class asked him if he liked a certain girl. Thomas's response: There's a reason he didn't like the girl or any other girls in the school.
"He asked me if it was because I was gay," said Thomas, then 13. "I said 'If I am, I am. If I'm not, I'm not.'"
The science teacher overheard, and reported Thomas' comment to Assistant Principal Sharon Hawk. Thomas said she pulled him out of class and told him he had until the end of the day to figure out how he'd tell his parents he was gay - or the school would do it for him. "I was stunned," Thomas said. "I don't really know how I felt." Later that day, with Thomas standing beside her, counselor Jimmie Brooks called Thomas' mother, Delia McLaughlin.
Okay, you know what? Thomas is full of crap. I happen to go to Jacksonville Jr., and I know him personally. Thomas has a lying problem. He has repeatedly alleged to have had sexual intercourse with numerous boys in our school, including me. (That would be a lie, thank you.) Anyway, he dosen't just talk about his gayness, he describes it all in detail (he's sexually active so.....you can imagine.) Any straight boy would be expelled for saying the same kind of things about a girl. They were actually lenient, beleive it or not. He's is just trying to get rich.Posted by Mic Parker at June 9, 2003 02:10 PM
Sorry, got excited, pressed enter too many times. But it does get my point across, dosen't it? :)