For the candy

Eliana Steinberg

Life Editor

We offered him candy. Still he declined. Shoving a Laffy Taffy back into our faces, he stepped backward cautiously as he uttered the first word of our club, ”gay.”

Last week at the club fair the Gay Straight Alliance, like every other club, was looking to recruit. We prepared a colorful sign, bought rainbow treats and hoped. We hoped that despite the stigma sometimes attached to homosexuality, Milken students would sign our scrawny piece of paper to learn more about our club’s mission.

For the most part we were successful. Students questioned the premises of the club (“Do we have to be gay?”) and asked about time commitment (“By signing this paper will I be forced to attend tons of meetings?”) We answered them truthfully. No, and no.

We were surprised, however, to witness the uneasy responses of some male students. Despite our loud voices beckoning students to our table, many boys paced by quickly, averting their eyes. Others snickered and signed the names of their fellow classmates, nudging the elbow of their friend for approval of their mockery.

These were the sweet freshman boys in the Milken Mart, the ones who went behind the counter to hug their mothers for the free bagel. I could see that the root of their ridicule wasn’t innately malicious or homophobic. But somehow, the handling of gay issues is such that it has become acceptable to mutter crude jokes under your breath without any repercussions.

Fortunately, the GSA does not have to fight blatant homophobia around the school, or protect students against hate crimes. Compared to the environments of most other schools, Milken is fairly liberal and tolerant of the differences of others. However, it is the hollow “That’s so gay”s reverberating around the campus that prohibit Milken from becoming a fully accepting atmosphere.

I know that it is idealistic to expect every teenager ridden with angst to be mindful of his or her words and actions. Although in some respect, I expected more. We are not forcing you to join the GSA, or even sign our piece of paper. Just to listen to our ideas and be mindful of our presence. On November 18, the GSA will be hosting a Day of Silence, in which the participating students will refrain from speaking for a day, in solidarity with the gay teenagers and adults who are unable to come out.