Dan Savage cites a Jackson Free Press article today about a student in Mississippi that has been completely erased from her school book, despite being an honor student and one of the top performing academians. Kids who dropped out and kids who got busted for drugs were in the yearbook, but because Ceara Sturgis openly discussed that she was gay, she’s been “un-personed”.
They removed all references to Sturgis. Her photo doesn’t appear in the yearbook, her name doesn’t appear on a list of graduating seniors, there’s no mention of the academic honors she racked up.
Like Constance McMillen—another lesbian student who had the nerve to stand up for herself and to be herself—Sturgis was retaliated against by the small-minded bigots who run her school.
Time for an accountability moment: the website for the Wesson Attendance Center is here. Ronald Greer is WAC’s principal and you can email him here. Oscar Hawkins is WAC’s high school principal and you can email him here. The school’s phone number is (601) 643-2221. The school’s fax number is (601) 643-2458.
Copiah County School District spokeswoman Martha Traxler refused to comment on the school’s reason for excluding Sturgis from the senior page, and referred all questions to Copiah County attorney Olen Bryant, Jr.”
Martha Traxler’s email address is email@example.com. Olen Bryant Jr. works for Bryant & Rutland, PLLC, whose website is http://www.olenbryant.com/; they have a contact form linked under “Email Us” and their number is 601-894-4555.
Another of Dan’s readers has written a fabulous “crib sheet” letter, in case you find yourself wordless at this egregious treatment of this young woman. To make it easier to find and use, it’s reproduced below:
To Ronald Greer and Oscar Hawkins;
The most powerful and cruel way to dehumanize someone, to make them both invisible and unreal, is to take away their name. You erase their identity and their individual self-ness, that tiny flame we were all born with which makes us known to each other and to ourselves. Many powerful and terrible people have known this; concentration camp victims were given numbers in place of names, African American slaves’ names changed depending on the whim of each new master. These are serious and outrageous examples, and yet I think they are appropriate. Wesson Attendance Center’s complete failure to mention graduating senior Ceara Sturgis does not only withhold from her the same respect, the same honor that other students received when they were pictured, and named, celebrated. It is dangerous, because it was motivated by fear and hate, and it encourages others to also think of Ceara as a non-person. Remember the youth in your school who look to you for examples on how to treat their fellow human beings. Make the honorable, courageous choice, and right this wrong.