Thursday, March 15, 2012
Not all find pageant groovy
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From the RoundTable blog
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Glenvar High School has been hosting a pageant for 40 years now in which teenage boys dress up as women and compete for the title of "Miss Groovy Teen." This year's pageant was held March 2. Apparently, it is a fund-raiser for the prom.
While I appreciate that students, faculty and parents seem to enjoy this tradition, I find it troubling. Living as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or questioning (LGBTQ) youth in a small Southern town and going to a small school is hard enough as it is without the school's most popular event being a cross-dressing beauty pageant. Coupled with the fact that the gay community is still struggling for basic human rights (particularly in Virginia), and LGBTQ youth are subjected to discrimination, bullying, degradation and verbal and physical abuse, I fail to see the humor here.
I know some would say I'm being overly sensitive, and even question my reason for bringing attention to this. But let me just say that I am not transgendered or questioning. I am not even a student, faculty member or parent of a student at this school.
I am a 43-year-old gay man, in a committed relationship, who simply read about this event in the newspaper ("There he is ... ," Feb. 29, The Edge). And when I did, it made my stomach churn. It reminded me of the taunting, teasing, verbal and physical abuse I sustained in junior high and high school. And it made me think: certainly there are a few students, parents, possibly faculty members and members of the transgendered community here in Roanoke (which is fairly visible and active) that might not only be offended, but also fear reprisal if they brought their concerns to light.
I don't know what the remedy here is. Perhaps it's a request to end this tradition. Or, more importantly, perhaps it's an opportunity to educate people here in the valley about issues facing LGBTQ youth today.
I wouldn't want to take something away from the majority of people, who seem to enjoy the event simply to make a point.
Rather, I'd like to see some sensitivity shown, and I'd like there to be an effort made by school officials, parents and students to embrace those students who may feel marginalized, either because of this event or for any other reason.
One idea that comes to mind is using a portion of the funds raised to make a small donation to the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students, or to the Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth.