File this under truly inspirational: Jay McDowell, a teacher in Howell, Michigan, was temporarily suspended without pay earlier this month for telling two students to get out of his classroom; one of the students was wearing a Confederate flag and the other was making anti-gay comments. During a school board meeting, 14-year-old Graham Taylor came to McDowell’s defense, saying that McDowell “did an amazing thing. Whenever I have teachers who stand up for me like that,” he continued, “they change in my eyes.”
The video is below – it’s pretty incredible. I’ve also included the transcript (thanks to the awesome Laura Smith-Gary for her help!).
Text on screen: “Residents and non-residents address Howell School Board regarding the disciplinary action to HHS teacher Jay McDowell”
Graham Taylor in voiceover: “Um, my father is Kirk Taylor, he’s a teacher at Hartland, and he tells me about things that go on in this area, and it seems like a nice community.”
Video: Young teen boy speaking confidently into a microphone at a crowded school board meeting. On-screen text identifies him as “Graham Taylor, Ann Arbor student.”
Taylor: “I myself am gay, and I’m a young person. And that can cause lots of trouble. And when you hear of things like Dr. King’s speech, that one day he wanted his grandchildren, his posterity, to not be judged on the color of their skin but the content of their character, I hope that one day we too can be judged on the content of our character and not who we love.
“Howell is the headquarters for the Ku Klux Klan. Does that sound great on your racism record, that they chose this city to come into? And you probably want to get rid of that! So how would you like more headlines of ‘Howell denies gays’ and ‘Howell doesn’t protect them’? This teacher, whom I fully support, finally stood up and said something.
“I have been in rooms, in classrooms, where children have said the worst kinds of things. The kinds of things that helped drive me to a suicide attempt when I was only nine years old. These are the things that hurt a lot. There’s a silent Holocaust out there, in which an estimated 6 million gay people every year kill themselves. Is this really the environment we want for our school? Do we really want this on our record?
“Now, I’m saying that the best thing you can do right now is just give him this pay for that day and just reverse the disciplinary actions. He did an amazing thing. He did something that’s inspired a lot of people. And whenever, ever, I have a teacher stand up for me like that, they change in my eyes. I support Jay McDowell, and I hope –”
Photo from Flickr.
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