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Unusual Courage in 2001

Monday, April 9, 2001 | Tag Cloud Tags: ,

April 9, 2001
By Tom Marsland
Special Correspondent for ASSIST Communications

Every now and then, a little bit of justice sneaks up on the culture at a time when you least expect it. Case in point; A short time ago, 16 year-old Elliot Chambers borrowed and then wore to school, his sister's "straight pride" sweatshirt. Elliot has a similar tee shirt of his own with the same in your face, not too subtle, pro-traditional family message.

Straight Pride Wear (SPW), is an Internet marketing concern that's unabashedly pro-family, pro-traditional value, out of the closet and flaming heterosexually managed (yes Virginia, clothing designers and florists can be heterosexual!).

Since the Elliot story hit, business is good...REAL good. Oh yeah, the folks I talked with at SPW are serious Christians too...they say they believe that God loves gay folks too, same as everyone else. According to the owner of SPW, who's requested anonymity (I've no problem with that), "no one here is anti-gay-people or homo-phobic". They just believe what the Bible says, to paraphrase; don't sow your oats outside of marriage...marriage as God describes it...between one man and one woman. Elliot's story is told on the SPW web site and I thought you might enjoy it. Here goes;

My name is Elliot Chambers. I am a 16-year-old sophomore at Woodbury High School in Woodbury, Minnesota. In December 2000, I went to a George W. Bush support rally at the State Capitol in St. Paul. I saw another teenage guy there wearing a "straight pride" hoody (hooded sweatshirt), and thought it was cool. I found the shirt particularly appealing because of my personality, my motto is "why be politically correct when you can be right?!" I asked him where he got his shirt, and he directed me to www.straightpridewear.com. When I got home later that day, I visited the website and ordered a T-shirt and a hoody. I wore my "straight pride" hoody to school a couple of times and started getting feedback right away. Most people thought my shirt was awesome and wanted to get one too. But, others hissed and spit.

On Tuesday, January 16, I wore my "straight pride" shirt to school and got called into the Assistant Principal's office. She said that a girl had come into her office complaining on behalf of other "gay" and "lesbian" students who were "offended" by my shirt. The AP said she wasn't banning the shirt, but wanted to warn me that people were offended by it and that she would be talking to the principal about it. And that he might actually put the kibosh to the shirt. Sure enough, the next day, the Principal called me into the office and said that my shirt was offensive to the "gay and lesbian" students and banned me from wearing it anymore.

Here's the catch to the story. Woodbury High School has what's called "safe zones" where 48 to 50 teachers have volunteered to allow their classrooms to display a large poster with an inverted pink triangle (the universal symbol for "gay pride") with the words "safe zone" on them. In these classrooms "gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender" students can express their sexual preferences without harassment, retaliation, ridicule etc. These "safe zones' also display the following advertisement:

WOODBURY HIGH SCHOOL SAFE STAFF TEAM Listed below are some staff who have information about a safe and respectful environment for gay, lesbian, and bisexual, staff, and families. Confidentiality respected." (The ad then goes on to list all 48-50-classroom numbers and faculty members' names.) This is clearly recruitment into the gay and lesbian lifestyle. The school banning my shirt is blatantly a violation of my Constitutional right to free speech, and an extreme double standard. Plus I was called into the Principal's office twice and harassed because of my sexual "orientation" (translated - I am what God made me - straight and abstinent!)

My parents and I went in to see the Principal to discuss the violation of my rights. He was not moved. I felt defeated at the time and went to the mall and had a custom T-shirt made with the words " Help, I'm being Repressed!" (My favorite line from " Monty Python and the Holy Grail"). I wore it to school the following Monday. Here's the humor: I was stopped by at least 15 students who asked me what the word "Repressed" means. I believe the point can be made that public schools have sunk to an all time low. They have abandoned the goal of educating students and have chosen, instead, to indoctrinate them into left wing, liberal wacko ideology.

My parents and I have been on a massive e-mail campaign to every news outlet that will listen to us, and share our story. We also have engaged an attorney to help us fight for my right to free speech and to flush out this can of worms they call public education in Woodbury. The nice folks at Straightpride.com have promised to forward all comments to me concerning my story. Please send emails of support to info@straightpridewear.com. Elliot Chambers and his Parents have enlisted on a "pro-bono" basis, the services of the Tupelo, Mississippi based American Family Association Law Center, the legal arm of American Family Association Inc. Stephen M. Crampton, chief counsel for the center joined me on air to discuss their case, as has Elliot's Mother Lana Chambers. Hats off to Mr. Crampton's legal team and to the Chambers family for their unbelievable courage in the face of a very powerful pro-gay politically correct Peoples Republic of Minnesota school system. BTW, Lana is probably the most eloquent, sensible and vivacious guest to express her views on my program to date. And she or Elliot or Mr. Crampton has hit the national TV talk circuit on all the biggies, such as Fox's Hannity and Colmes.

This case has brought about the strangest thing that has happened to me in my talk show host experience to date. After calling gazillions of the country's top GLBT/Gay organizations...not even one consented to come on air with me. These normally never-shy publicity hounds were troubled by my advance primary question; If a "gay" schoolchild chose to express pride in their new found sexuality by wearing a "Gay Pride" tee-shirt, and the school system banned it...what would your position be? All of the organizations I spoke with declined the "Catch 22" I offered.

2001, a life's odyssey, continues.

Blessings, Tom Marsland

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