Friday, March 28, 2014

An Education in Ugliness

A local affiliate of a group, AbolishHumanAbortion has now picketed in front of both Norman high schools. At both schools, parents and community members created a Wall of Love...trying to shield the graphic posters and brochures, and just generally trying to support the students, reminding them they are safe, adults do care. I met some amazing moms; hugged some amazing students. I watched youngsters rise to the occasion, and find the coin Mr. Rogers. We were the helpers...but there was precious little we could really do to protect.

This week, I participated at my school, Norman North. I thought I was standing up for parents' rights. I know inside Norman North, parents have the right to approve of controversial curriculum offerings. They must be asked if they want their students' names to appear in school directories. They must give permission for their children to be photographed or videotaped at school. In my syllabus I had a statement that told parents they could direct their students' choices of books and I would support them.

I participated in the Wall of Love with that same attitude. Parents deserve the final say in what their students see and learn, and when that happens. No one outside the family should encroach.

How very naive. How very stupid.

Kids were videotaped without their permission...that's apparently legal. Children were shown graphic posters that inspired some of them to nightmares. Apparently that's legal too. Children were approached and engaged in sensitive conversations with highly trained operators. Legal.

We did stand with the students...I told more than one she was safe, we were there for her. We did support our students...we just cannot protect them as I hoped. We could not protect their parents' rights as I hoped.

I'll be back when we need another Wall, but I will be deeply aware of how the deck is stacked against our efforts.

"Love wins. Love always wins." Tuesdays with Morrie

My letter to my state Legislators:

Yesterday and today, I went to Norman North to be a Wall of Love in counter balance to AHA -- Abolish Human Abortion -- and their graphic, aggressive campaigning. My personal beliefs about abortion are not the issue here, and that's not what drove me to North. The physical and emotional safety of MY kids -- YOUR kids -- was. 

Here is what I heard and saw:

  • One friend's sister watched a picketer follow her friend down the street until the girl took a brochure
  • Children who saw the graphic images on the oversized posters have been reporting nightmares
  • Girls were pursued, and brochures were placed into their backpacks
  • One picketer was seen repeatedly moving from the sidewalk onto school property in pursuit of a student
  • Picketers verbally browbeating kids to the point they began crying
  • Special education students viewing the posters
  • Students coming up to us, thanking us for being there for them

Picketers, wearing cameras in special harnesses videoed kids without their parents' permission, and they have now edited those videos and posted them on YouTube. One video is entitled. "Norman high student unable to defend pro-choice position." I am incensed he or she was put into that position by a well-coached agitator. This issomeone's child. MY granddaughter will be at Norman High next year. It could be her.

I will be honest and say I've not watched any of the videos. I will send you links without watching if you want me to. I cannot watch. These are MY kids.

One of the local leaders is a former can't teach for 30 years in the same town without knowing some people. I told him my concern was that the vast majority of the students at North were minors, under the age of 18. His glib, rehearsed answer was, they were old enough to get an abortion, so they're old enough to see his posters. My response was, "Not without their parents' permission." Apparently, he's right and I'm wrong.

Yesterday, AHA stayed on the sidewalk that I could see, but the taping went on, and multiple videos were posted last night.

We have taught our kids for years about STRANGER DANGER, and now we've thrown kids out to be approached by people with very focused motives, eager to exploit. If that's not stranger danger, what is?? 

I thought parents had some kind of rights...the right to tell other people NOT to approach their child, the right to a presumption of privacy...the right to NOT be taped and blazoned on YouTube.  But I have learned parents have no rights once their child leaves the safety of the school, until she reaches the safety of her home.

We need buffer zones around our schools! We need them now. We need parents to have some sort of rights to who can and cannot videotape their children. If parents can't assure their children they're safe, who can?

I'm sick to my stomach right now...horrified that this group in all its slickness has all the rights, and our motley group of passionate mothers have none.

I want my students safe. I want their parents to be able to keep them safe.

What can I do to start the process to establish buffer zones around schools? I will tell you, the rumor -- unsubstantiated -- is AHA will target our middle schools next. 

I am in tears as I write this. I need your help to keep our kids safe.


  1. Thank you for caring so much for our kids. This group is a bunch of radical hate mongers and they make me sick. They stand on the grounds that what they are doing is legal. Well abortion is legal also. Legality does not make one right and one wrong. Just because it is legal to harass minors and show them graphic/pornographic pictures sure does not make it right. I hope our State Legislators will make the right decision and create some sort of buffer zone so that our children do not have to be exposed to this nonsense garbage again.

    1. Lori, thank you! I'm really feeling disheartened right many issues...but we must have the tools to keep our kids safe. Thank you for sharing your kids with me.

  2. I have no words adequate to describe how angry this makes me feel.

    1. I can't believe parents have no power to protect their own kids. I'm sick.

  3. Many of my students were quite disturbed by both the aggressiveness of the members of AHA as well as their obviously hate-filled message. Thank you for being outside while we were inside.

    1. Maybe this is why I needed to retire. I thought of that...our kids ARE protected inside our schools...their parents DO get to have a say in what they see and read. But steps outside the door, there are no rights and no protection.

  4. Once again, I admire your fierce love. We'll be working on the buffer zones.

    1. Frustrated love...I've written to my City Council person, the Mayor and City Attorney. I want to be involved in the solution...