A Missouri high school has taken up one of our favorite, completely unresolve-able, and inconsequential debates: is the word "queer" offensive?
A bisexual student was sent home for wearing a "queer" T-shirt. He got it at a regional queer youth conference called EQUAL, the school says the word queer is offensive, and the ACLU has taken the student's side. Here's the T-shirt:
I don't see anything wrong with that, of course. I use the word queer like there's no tomorrow and it clearly wasn't meant to be used in a way that incites hate at the school.
I don't agree with the student's reasoning, that the word is being "taken back" - maybe 20 years ago, but today it's barely ever used offensively so to say that someone is challenging a non-existent negative meaning that a whole generation of us never experienced (definitely not any more than with the word "gay") is missing the point. The T-shirt was probably using queer as an umbrella term for the alphabet soup (which certain members of the LGBTTQQIPA community say they find annoying for its longevity, who are often, by sheer coincidence, the same members of the community who refuse to accept "queer").
The student claims gay and straight T-shirts were allowed:
He said other students at the school were allowed to wear anti-gay shirts after the school's Gay-Straight Alliance wore shirts that read: 'Gay - Fine by Me.'
'Kids wore shirts like this that said "Straight - the only thing fine by me".'
Jesse's mother Kelly Smith added: 'School officials didn't ask those students to turn their shirts inside out.'
Putting them side-by-side like that makes the difference between the two camps clear and puts to rest the idea that they both have equal value.
Language, it is a-changin'. The school should consider the intent of the student and the way most people would take the message, and here there isn't anything hateful or violent.
Here's local news coverage, from which the before-jump image was taken.