Truth Crusaders? Really?

by Shaker Aly, a sophomore in a public high school, who reads until her eyes hurt, can't wait until Debate season '09-'10, and believes that there is nothing that an episode of "Doctor Who" can't solve. She is the main contributor to The Wakeup Call, a blog by "The Silent Generation."

The Day of Truth.

I'm sure all of you have heard about it, from reading this blog. If not, let me catch you up. It's a day that "was established to counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective."

Now, I could go in depth about everything that is wrong with that mission statement, but that would digress from my original point, which was this: I had the displeasure of meeting and having a conversation with a Truth Crusader.

Oh, yes—a Truth Crusader. It just gets better from there.

They made their presence known immediately at my school. While they were not large in number, maybe forty out of a school of two thousand, they were bloody loud. They wore shirts, obviously homemade, with a giant red cross on the back and a bible verse on the front. They sang hymns through the hallways, locking arms and handing out leaflets. God help you if there were more than three of them in the hallway together. They were a nuisance, they were obnoxious, but worst of all, they were armed and dangerous, overflowing with blue handouts about the oncoming storm of gays.

It is my habit to link hands with my close friend Caitlin as we walk through the hallways. Often times, her boyfriend will join up with us as we walk to history, and it'll be a lovely three chain hand-holding. It's absolutely harmless, non-sexual in every way, and pretty much just our habit, as it's been for a few years now. We're close friends, and I don't think that any Truth Crusader really needs to be privy to whose fingers I link with.

Obviously I was mistaken.

We saw her coming down the hallway, alone, with her huge cross and basket of leaflets. Unspeaking, Caitlin clutched my hand tighter, an unspoken conversation that we were not going to unlock hands, despite the impending interception. We went about our conversation, fairly tense, in that fake way you have a conversation when pretending that you don't notice whatever glaring red object is in front of you.

Our Truth Crusader, however, noticed us. She marched up to us, blocking our way, with no preamble: "You know you're sinners, right?"

Caitlin: No, I didn't, but thanks for filling me in. You know you're a tremendous asshole, right?

TC: You don't have to be rude. Everyone is so anti-Christian, I'm not surprised you don't know the truth.

The basics of the conversation are not important, and they involved some major conflict, so I'm going to skim over the sarcasm and go to the important parts of the conversation. (I should also note that my school has not had the Day of Silence yet—we were on spring break on the official day, so ours is this Friday.)

TC: Look, it's not my fault that you're going to go to Hell. I'm trying to help you! Please, you've been brainwashed—

Aly: We've been brainwashed? Look, sunshine—

Caitlin (being overtly sarcastic): No, Aly, let's hear about how we've been brainwashed. Please, go on.

TC (sarcasm makes slight whistling noise as it goes right over her head): Well, you have to understand what the schools are doing! Not everyone can afford private schools, especially not in this kind of economy, but we need to make sure our public schools are giving the same type of education. It's wrong to subject our kids to gays, to shove them in their face every day and teach them anti-morals!

Let me reiterate. She actually said to us: It's wrong to subject our kids to gays, to shove them in their face every day and teach them anti-morals.

No matter how many victories we have, there are people who think like this. And it's a nice little metaphor, isn't it? Out of a school of 2,000+, forty kids made this huge fuss, making it seem as if there were tons of them. That seems to be exactly what is happening in America—despite the fact that most Americans support gay rights, there is that one minority that makes such a racket that you start to think there are more of them.

Yes, they were utter nutters. Most people at my school realized that, and mocked them for their abject stupidity. However, this is the main problem: Underneath the nuttiness, people were listening. You could see people in the hallways, reading through the pamphlets, thinking that they actually had a valid point. I had a conversation with an acquaintance of mine who said that, while they were going about it the wrong way, he understood where they were coming from.

No. Really? No.

This is the reason why we need even more cultural education in schools, the reason why we need the Day of Silence, the reason why we can't sit back and think that things will sort themselves out. We cannot take winning for granted.

The fact that there are teens who can "understand where they're coming from" when it comes to the alleged gay propaganda spreading through schools? That's the evidence that we can't rest on our laurels. It's just taken for granted in schools that the majority of people are pro-gay rights. I honestly get shocked when I find out that a friend or acquaintance of mine is homophobic, because, despite all the news reports and coverage about LGBTQI hate crimes, you do not expect it in your school. You take it for granted that your friends and family are not homophobic.

We can't keep taking this for granted, because "pro-family" (seriously, what?) groups will take advantage of this. They show up with their leaflets, and they look stupid and crazy, and nobody takes them seriously. Until a few days later, when they pick up that leaflet that was shoved in their book bag, and start flipping through it, thinking, "Wow, they have a point!"

That's why we need better education, more tolerance, more activism. Because if we let this type of thinking undermine our school systems any more than they already have, we are fucked. I am a teenager, I am in high school, I am young, I will vote soon, and my hand will help guide politics. The problem is, so will every other teenager, and if we don't teach them better, it extends the fight.

(Small plus note: When I was yelling at our Truth Crusader, a teacher came out to the hallway to see what the fuss was about. He took one look at me and Caitlin, one look at the girl and her shirt, shook his head, and went right back in his classroom.)

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