Lance Sanderson: “I Was Suspended for Not Keeping Quiet about My Schools Bigoted Policy”

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Written by Lance Sanderson, and Culture Stocked Editor-in-Chief, Nick Moutvic.

It’s Monday, 6:30 a.m., and as usual I am walking through the doors of my high school, taking inventory of the assignments I failed to get to over the weekend, and plan on finishing before first bell. I expect a long day of classes (because Mondays always seem to last longer), and a strong possibility of being called into the office to speak to the administrators about future policy changes and ways to become more inclusive.

You see, last week I was denied the opportunity to bring a date to my schools homecoming dance. It isn’t because they are too old, or because they have a record; it is because my date and I are of the same-sex. After being told by school administrators that I wouldn’t be allowed to bring a male date, I did my best to convince them otherwise, to which Christian Brothers High School administrators responded once more. This time with daily announcements over the school’s intercom system, informing all students that same-sex dates from other schools will not be permitted. Meanwhile, the all-male student body is encouraged to bring female dates from outside the school. Unsuccessful in my attempt to persuade the school with my army of one, I took to crowdsourcing for support. Amassing over 24k signatures, my Change.org petition (which has been shared and signed by advocates Shonda Rhimes and co.) gave me hope that my school would uphold its ideals of brotherhood for all, not just some.

That is why this Monday didn’t quite go as planned. By 7:30 school administrators had come looking for me. They hauled me into the office and sat me down before I even had a chance to get to my first class. The administrator in question said that the press they received, as a result of my petition, was both damaging to the school and to the brothers in general. They then said that they “had 890 other students to worry about and could not deal with me right now.” I am not sure why this bit was relevant, because I did not seek out a conversation with said administrator. I was then promptly dismissed from school for the week without any further discussion on the matter. As it stand right now, I appear to be marked absent for the entire week.

I drove home, and immediately sent an email requesting to return to school and to express my hope that one day that the discriminatory policies of Christian Brothers would change. When my school failed to respond, I reached out to my media contacts. I wanted Christian Brothers and schools around the nation to know that they can not simply ignore these issues. Schools with these kind of policies need to be held accountable for their actions, considering we live in a nation where marriage between two people is legal regardless of gender. Sometimes the road to what is right can be bumpy. Mine was certainly not smooth, but I hope that my actions and words push Christian Brothers High School and others further down that road toward acceptance and inclusion.

If you are ever oppressed, marginalized, or spoken down to, I encourage you to speak up. A week ago, I did not have the courage that I do now. Interviews were not easy. I was even afraid to retweet words of encouragement from supporters. Now, I realize that people around the world have my back, and want to see change that promotes inclusiveness for all. It is both my job and yours to help those that don’t yet understand the importance of this kind of change, to do so. In times like this, I always find myself thinking back to what I have read and watched of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I remember that officials told him that change was coming, but that it would be many years away. He would not accept that and instead of waiting, he made change. He made a difference in the lives of people around him. He made a difference in the lives of people he would never meet. Until the entirety of the world’s problems are solved, we are all responsible for continuing in his and so many other’s legacies, to fix what is broken and eradicate hate.

At one missed day I am disappointed to have already missed two tests and a timed in-class essay. Today, I will not get the same opportunity to meet with college admissions representatives from around the country (they do not visit often) as the rest of my senior class. Even so, I hope to be welcomed back into the my brotherhood and my classes soon.

About Nick Moutvic
Nick Moutvic is equal parts loud Chicagoan and Editor-In-Chief of Culture Stocked; A self-identifying sci-fi nerd, Nick is weirdly proud of the fact that he still fits in t-shirts he owned from before hitting puberty, and gets jarringly emotional watching film and television trailers. His book, That Could Have Gone Better, is about his attempts at balancing adult responsibilities with an affinity for 2 a.m. taco runs, and is out now on Amazon and Kobo.