Last week, the principal of Blanche Ely High School, Mr. Karlton Johnson, hauled an interracial lesbian couple into his office and threatened to suspend them for holding hands in the hallway. He'd warned them about this hand-holding business before, he said -- he was just upholding the school's rules, and he insists there was nothing homophobic or insensitive about his actions. (Even though when the school inadvertently outed one of the girls' as a lesbian when they called her parents to discuss the incident. So far, the district has failed to apologize.)
When the news got out there was the expected outrage. Elgin Jones wrote about it at The Florida Times; Steve Rothaus wrote it up at the Herald. Even Perez Hilton got in on the opprobium, calling Mr. Johnson "just wrong."
Well, maybe he is and maybe he isn't. The girls have claimed that Blanche Ely's heterosexual couples are never, ever disciplined for hand-holding, but that might not be as telling as it seems. Maybe Mr. Kalrton is so accepting of gayfolk that it never even occurred to him that making an example of an interracial lesbian couple might be impolitic. Who knows what's in another man's heart?
But Mr. Karlton's definitely guilty of something.
Though the girls' identities have not been made public, we do know that the hand-holders are upperclassmen in Mr. Johnson's school. They both apparently earn good grades, and one of them is an honor student. Yet somehow, one of these girls composed this email to the school district:
There has been a situation in my upcoming school, Blanche Ely High, dealing with discrimination against the lesbian/gay community. Our principal here has tried to suspend me and my friend for holding hands. And I would like to know if such actions are necessary for something so fragile....to which a reasonable person can only say: Yea gods! Who cares if Karlton Johnson's a homophobe? If that's how his honor students write, wanton public lesbianism is the least of his problems.
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