Plaque misleading, school needs to be more accepting


Natalie Larimer, Staff Writer

Junior Brandy Hayen and her girlfriend, sophomore Carissa Metcalf, were hanging out in the front lobby after school ended May 22. “[Brandy] kissed my cheek, really quickly, and apparently somebody called it into (associate principal Jerry) Stratton,” Metcalf said. “He called us into the conference room and started talking to us about how it was against the rules and that we were going to have to serve a detention on the last day of school.” Hayen and Metcalf did serve the detention, but they were not happy about it. Stratton was unavailable for an interview.

Now, I don’t think it’s wrong for the school to be cleaning up some PDA,  it is against the rules after all. But I believe the school is incredibly biased towards LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, etc.) couples, and they get in a lot more trouble for a lot less PDA than straight couples. “There is no way a straight couple would get a detention on the last day of school for a quick kiss on the cheek,” Metcalf said. “That would never happen.”

Metcalf wrote a three page letter while in her detention and left it on the table for administrators to find.  “I feel uncomfortable holding my girlfriend’s hand because I don’t feel safe from discrimination at Johnston,” she stated in her letter. “Good old ‘gay friendly’ Johnston.”

We claim as a school to be incredibly LGBT+ accepting but it is obvious that some of the staff (and students) don’t get the memo. Two students got a detention because of this bias when straight couples are full blown making out in the hallways and nobody lifts a finger to stop it. When Dragon TV did their rap about PDA last year, they had absolutely no problem finding people demonstrating this in the hallway. This just shows how common it is around our school.

What makes me upset is that Johnston has an LGBT+ acceptance plaque. The two girls are especially upset because the school doesn’t have a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) club anymore. “They have maybe one sign about the GSA and it’s not even promoting it, it’s just like ‘Ask about the GSA!’ and it’s not even there,” Hayen said. “I don’t understand why they got their award here. They had the signs up last year, and I went to go to the meeting, and nobody was there. Like, lights off, door closed, nobody.” GSA is student-run, so we should get our crap together and restart the club. There’s no reason for us to not have one, and people are upset about it.

Metcalf approached this issue in her letter as well. “You all have a plaque for your LGBT+ treatment,” she wrote. “Seeing that is a slap in the face. You wouldn’t know what this feels like, to be punished for this while I watch straight couples make out around every corner and the next day I get threatened for a quick embrace.”

Metcalf elaborates in her letter that she doesn’t feel safe and accepted in Johnston due to the bias and discrimination. “Don’t brag about an accepting environment when you actively make students feel this way,” she said.

Johnston needs to be more accepting and if we can’t handle that, we need to take down that plaque. “Don’t get me wrong, the school could be way worse,” Metcalf said. “And there are other schools around us that are way worse. But the fact that they flaunt their little plaque that they got this award, that’s what makes me mad.”