I was born and raised in Philadelphia. The city has always felt safe to me, which unfortunately was shaken with the gay bashing that happened in Center City a couple of weeks ago. While this has shaken my feeling of safety in my city, I’m going to focus the positives that have come from this terrible situation. The fact that the internet came to together and identified the culprits was amazing. Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims said it perfectly:
“One of the things I’ve learned is that sometimes it takes a horribly negative experience to get people out of their seats, for them to be active and engaged. It’s not necessarily because they’re opposed but because they aren’t aware of the need. So we are going to be sure to utilize this horrible event to make sure that they hear about it. I’m going to be bringing two people with me who will be able to tell them all about it.”
Now three people are being charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and criminal conspiracy.
Sims has also vowed to take the Philadelphia gay-bashing victims with him to the state capitol to spur attention to the pending bill that would re-add sexual orientation and gender identity to state hate crime laws.
If people didn’t come together to figure out who these people were, they would still be at large. I’m glad that something positive is coming from this terrible incident, and that there are people in the world who would work together to find the bashers and help bring them to justice. And I’m glad that hopefully in my home state that hate crimes will soon include sexual orientation and gender identity.
The world can be a really crappy place, even in places where we should feel safe; at least there are people who still shine a light into darkness and fight for what is right.
I’m glad that we can work as a community toward making something good out of a terrible situation.
Last week a teacher was fired from Holy Ghost Prep Catholic High School after maintaining a marriage license with his partner in New Jersey. Griffen had worked at the school for 12 years, teaching Spanish and French. In this time he had brought his partner to events, and had also had administrators over to their house as guests.
The administration stated that he broke his contract by obtaining the marriage license…. but they’ve known that he’s been gay for over 12 years? Now, it’s a Catholic school right? What should I really expect, especially a Catholic school run by a priest?
My mother voiced the need for Griffen to sue the school into submission. In theory yes, that would be fantastic. Luckily the tide has turned and our rights can be won in the court of law. But…in the great state of Pennsylvania ‘fire at will’ is the legal policy that rules the state. (I’m not going to go into private school issues…. that’s a whole other topic that I’ll try to tackle next week).
Obviously PA needs to get their shit together and get on the marriage equality and anti-discrimination bus. But the thing that I keep coming back to is that Griffen has taught their for 12 years….. 12 years…..
12 years of being who he is…. and THEN getting fired. When is it going to be completely safe to be 100% out 100% of the time? Will there ever be a time where true work safety and security can exist for LGBT+ folks? Will a sweeping nationwide anti-discrimination policy secure peace of mind in the workplace , or is the fear of a loop-hole always going to make us afraid of being out?
I know that Catholic / private institutions will always have some right to hire / fire outside the realms of decency, but there is still a glimmer of hope that I hold onto; I hope that one day I could work with a Catholic run organization (shelter, hospital, school etc.) and not have my organization be kicked to the curb if I’m outed to them.
Maybe its the few people in my 12 years of attending Catholic school (more on that next week) but I would love to believe that this case in Bensalem, PA will be one of the last of its kind. I hope that the growing push toward true social justice inside these school walls will one day change the administration and hierarchy of the church towards an age of tolerance, acceptance, equality.