Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Protecting my son... and all my children and yours

Here is my Jack... He is why I do what I do.
Kansas is a notorious State of late and not in a good way. It is targeting so many using the guise of Religious freedoms to discriminate and hate. House Bill 2260 came up for a vote in a subcommittee in the Kansas State legislature and I was going to speak but did not get to do so. I was bummed and still at least got to send my written statement to have it submitted. Although I always knew I would be a defender of my children in so many ways,  having to defend my son's freedom from bulling and discrimination in my State legislature would never have occurred to me in in my wildest dreams! I never thought  never thought  they would be so small to injure children to promote their own agendas, shame on them!

Here is what I wanted to say to their faces.

Good afternoon. My name is Ann Marie Foster I am an educator with the USD 497 school district in Lawrence, Kansas. The purpose of my testimony today is to highlight the consequences of HB2260.  This bill is written so broadly that it will affect the zero tolerance policies put in place in our school districts to protect our children. As an educator to diverse populations with regards to socioeconomic status, race, religion and gender it is my, and our, responsibility to provide to ALL of our students a safe and protective learning environment to ensure they become productive, well-adjusted members of society.   HB2260 will remove all protections for our LGBT students and open them up to legal discrimination and sanctioned bullying.  LGBT students face astronomical bullying rates.  75-80% of LGBT students report being bullied, threatened and discriminated in our classrooms and hallways at some point in their academic career. The use of subtle and physical violence against this population screams for us, as responsible individuals, to protect our children. This picture I have brought with me is my son Jack. He is an 11 year old student in Lawrence, Kansas. At times my young son has had to be more mature and courageous than most of the adult professionals he comes in contact with due to their internal delusional prejudices. Jack is a bright sensitive young gay man with an open heart and a bright mind.  He wants to grow up to be a competitive figure skater and a scientist just like his father. If this bill is allowed to pass, the protection for my child, no matter how bright and capable he is, will not be in place to protect his rights and freedom from bullying and discrimination in the classroom, the workplace and housing. I have two wonderful children who I dream of becoming productive, loving adults who contribute beauty and intelligence to our community.  Just because my youngest was born different from his heterosexual big brother, he is a more likely to become a target for hate discrimination and bullying. I want the best opportunities for both my children and this bill would destroy any protections already in place for my child and my LGBT students.  This bill makes it possible to wipe out all the protections at the city and school district level, cloaked in a religious freedom guise. It is ludicrous to believe that this bill is anything but a way to turn our democracy into a theocracy.  I embrace the freedom for all my students and have a strong sense of faith being raised Catholic but this bill does not promote love, understanding and freedom professed by the religious but disguises itself in hate and discrimination. Please, for the wellbeing of ALL the youth in our schools and homes, protect the beautiful young minds of those citizens like my son Jack, consider the detrimental ramifications of the removal of protective antidiscrimination laws. The life you save from bullying and discrimination may be my son’s.