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Poway Unified School District in San Diego has found itself in the midst of a battle over freedom of expression and tolerance. One day after a campus group had participated in "Day of Silence", a nationwide show of tolerance for gays and lesbians, Tyler Chase Harper, pictured above, decided to wear a shirt with a piece of masking tape on it with the words "Homosexuality is Shameful" scrawled in black marker.

According to the article other pieces of tape said "Be Ashamed" and "Our School Embraced What God has Condemned".

This story just eats at me. Not only was I miserable in grade school and high school because I had no sense of sexual identity and no idea what "gay" really was, just that I was different, I had thought things were changing. Apparently they're not so much in San Diego.

Even more sickening is what the kid's lawyer says is the reasoning behind the shirt, that by wearing the shirt he is warning people of something dangerous. "He comes not with a heart of hate, but a heart of compassion," lawyer Robert Tyler said.

Tell that to Mathew Shepard.

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Comments

  1. I just saw this story and found it rather un-settling, too. What if this kid turns out gay himself?!? HA HA! When I was 17 or 18, I went out with another guy who's father frothed at the mouth that his kid WILL NOT BE GAY! He would listen in on our calls and showed up where I worked one night. This guy and I never got beyond holding hands, but I'm sure his dad would have killed me if he had gotten his hands on me. Guess what? His son turned out to be a screaming, flaming drag queen. People need to be very careful what they wish and hope for.

    Posted by: Steve | Sep 18, 2004 7:25:43 AM


  2. I am so tired of this "I don't hate homosexuals, really--but, see, it says here in the Bible . . ." crap.

    Posted by: Will | Sep 18, 2004 8:49:03 AM


  3. A heart of compassion? I am so sick of these lying, hate-filled bigots. There's no compassion in any of it. Not only do they think they're right, but they are advocating a view that we should all be condemned for who we are.

    So they think that God is going to be happy with them for condemning a group of His children? You know, I'm pretty comfortable with living my life the best I can and being good to other people. That's what a loving God wants. I don't know how these hate-filled creatures will defend their actions if they ever have to face some form of judgment after this life (that's assuming there even is any form of judgment, etc., etc.).

    Frankly, it seems to me that many of the world's problems come from one or the other of the organized religions. Believe in God or not--that should be each person's choice--but these religions are just political machines with their own self-serving goals.

    Posted by: Jess | Sep 18, 2004 9:56:22 AM


  4. The face of that little bigot doesn't appear like it has a look of compassion on it...it looks like the little fucker is spewing poison.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Posted by: Gee | Sep 18, 2004 11:02:29 AM


  5. But legally I think he's allowed to wear whatever he wants.

    Posted by: Toby | Sep 18, 2004 11:36:29 AM


  6. Well, I do thinks times are changing and young people are way more "tolerant" (I hate that word)...uhmmm...I mean accepting of gay people today. Much more so than when I was in highschool where I felt like an alien. I have no problem with this kid wearing that shirt. The fact he has a lawyer indicates that someone was trying to stop him from wearing it. I think it is very important for people, gay and straight, to see that there is still hate out there. I don't think this Tyler guy is going to be very popular doing any of this crap, but I'd rather him wear his hate on his shirt... to expose it to the world, than to hide it and ultimately express it in other ways that could lead to violence. The fact that people still try to drag religious beliefs into public schools continues to appall me, though.

    Posted by: Patrick | Sep 18, 2004 12:16:24 PM


  7. First off, yes, it sounds like this is his legal right to do this in this school. Fine. It still makes me angry and curious to understand what is fueling his beliefs.

    I hope some other boy wore a T-Shirt that said, "Women are dirty." during a Powder Puff game, because you know women are second-rate humans that really only good for providing offspring? NOT MY OPINION, but definitely according to the Bible. In fact, some suggest that the reference to a man sleeping in a woman's place being sinful has nothing to do with gay sex, but rather that a woman's side of the bed is dirty and shameful, 'cause of all that monthly menstrating.

    Funny how those Christians eager to pull politics into their faith overlook that shit and whole bunch more. That's the hypocrisy that makes me angry. Where do you draw the line and why with what your book of faith tells you?

    I do not believe that you can follow the Bible in any literal sense — or more importantly, a primary source of divine revelation. God did not dictate it. The Bible is a human book mixing the profound wisdom of sages through the centuries with the limitations of human perceptions of reality at a particular time in human history. To say that the concept of "sexuality" was something understood and defined in the time span of the Bible is a huge mistake. To me, the Bible's messaging to me is not much a condemnation of sexual practice, as so much as it is an advocacy to hurry up and fuck already so we can populate more space with the Christian faith.

    Gee... this didn't get my panties in a twist?!
    :-)

    Posted by: Lost Monkey | Sep 18, 2004 12:34:35 PM


  8. oh toughen up!

    the kid voiced his particular bias in an upfront and nonviolent way. we've all got them, and by getting them in the open, we experience the repercussions of those biases, the first step in beginning to assess them objectively. obviously not the kid's intention, but we can't start crushing personal expression just because it hurts our faggoty little feelings.

    had his little slogan promoted some kind of action, then it would have crossed a line. but "homosexuality is shameful?" come on.

    Posted by: steven | Sep 18, 2004 12:46:30 PM


  9. someone should wear a shirt that says "Tyler Chase Harper should not judge!" which is (paraphrasing), ironically, the Book of Matthew.

    i notice that he's wearing a popular brand of skate/surf-wear called Ezekiel. I always wondered what the background was on why those chose this name, but i guess it's pretty obvious.

    and Tyler Chase Harper is such a gay name. Just look at the guy, you know he's been teased and/or hit on.

    Posted by: bmw | Sep 18, 2004 2:00:03 PM


  10. Well it certainly doesn't hurt my "faggoty little feelings" at this age, but for those gay or lesbian kids around him who are feeling isolated or depressed he may make quite an impression.

    There'a a reason why gay or lesbian youth are four times more likely to kill themselves than their straight counterparts and it's partly because this kind of intolerance leads kids to believe that their lives aren't worth living.

    Posted by: andy | Sep 18, 2004 2:01:56 PM


  11. fwiw: Poway is a pretty miserable part of San Diego, very conservative north county. It's nothing like the heart of S.D. where I'm sure this stuff wouldn't fly... I hope.

    Posted by: eric m. | Sep 18, 2004 2:18:09 PM


  12. He may have the right to wear the shirt, but we often encroach an individual's rights because they may harm (intentionally or not) another person (a right which we do not have.) So, no he should not wear the shirt to school. I think the really sad and disturbing issue is that adults in the situation are using the misguided actions of a child to further their agendas. He obviously has feelings (regardless of their sexual nature) that need a voice. Some mature individual needs to give him an appropriate forum to voice them.

    Posted by: Jimmy | Sep 18, 2004 4:15:54 PM


  13. Just so everyone knows: Poway is not San Diego and San Diego is not Poway. Geographically Poway is a city that is northeastern of rural San Diego, yes their borders touch.

    Poway IS like many of San Diego’s neighboring cities, conservative. To be honest I am surprised that they (Poway Uni. School Dist.) allowed the “Day Of Silence” to occur on campus. Even more impressive is the action taken by the principle of the school. He is undoubtedly not very popular at this time. An example of the heavy conservative right-wing that exists in that area; the state representative is Duncan Hunter. Never heard of him? Here’s some history: You may remember H.J. Res. 56. Yeah that’s right the Federal Marriage Amendment. Representative Musgrave of Colorado had created the Federal Marriage Amendment. This was way back before our pin-headed white house inhabitant said he was on board to discriminate on a federal. Mr. Duncan Hunter is a PROUD cosponsor of this amendment. He not only supports and cosponsors it, but comes across as believing it will save our great nation from civil decay – those are my words not his. I doubt he would be so creative. His words: "I firmly believe that this measure is a good step towards protecting traditional American values and is central to promoting solid family values so that our children can be raised in healthy environments.”

    I bring this up to drive home a point. Yes you can have a very open and expressive community like San Diego’s Gay community and in less than a 30 minute drive out of the city you can have a very close-minded and extremely conservative community that believes discrimination is okay. Yes in 2004. Yes in my backyard. If nothing else this is a great point to the importance of support groups for youth. It shows me the need for Pride events and other community events that reach beyond our gayborhoods.

    Posted by: Slate | Sep 18, 2004 11:48:52 PM


  14. A heart of compassion! Bullshit!!!!!!!

    Posted by: dan | Sep 19, 2004 12:15:22 AM


  15. The Bible is such a fun book. For a good time, read Judges 19.

    Posted by: RJK | Sep 19, 2004 1:01:53 AM


  16. Just as a lot of people consider flag burning to be offensive, I consider this guy's sign to be offensive. But do I think he should be prevented from wearing it? .NO WAY!!

    Posted by: dave | Sep 20, 2004 11:33:13 AM


  17. He comes with neither a heart of love nor hate, but of ignorance *(but we knew that). He thinks he is showing love by condeming evil so that more people can be "saved", but really he's just expressing the fact that he's uncomfortable with his own sexuality. Not that he's gay, but every guy goes through a questionable phase of experimentation in junior-high or highschool and he's lashing out indirectly at himself.

    He has a right to wear what he wants, with the possible exception of the "seperation of church & state" issue keeping god out of the classrooms... sorta.

    But yes, it hasn't changed that much. Fundementalism will ALWAYS stagnate change. Why do you think they hate evolution so much? I speak from experience as I was that kid looking at that statement, which prolonged my acceptance of myself. Fundementalism damn near killed me -seriously.

    So I don't think we can legislate belief, as that is intrisicly dangerous. However, the school can choose to legislate anti-discrimination by including homosexuals in it's "minority" groups... but that is more cosmopolitan than that area is ready for right now.

    There is no happy ending and no easy answer to this.

    Posted by: M@ | Sep 20, 2004 1:05:50 PM


  18. At my high school a bunch of people (and not just queers) wore those "gay? fine by me" t-shirts. That went over fine, although one straight guy who wore the shirt found out that his friends had written "fag" all over the back. The next day a small number of people had shirts that said "god? fine by me. gay? no way!" That was completly within their right, since they were expressing their beliefs in the same way we had.

    Posted by: zounds | Oct 2, 2004 7:16:45 PM


  19. I am a Christian, let the flames roll, and I will admit that I am not a very good one. I have never said anything or even thought anything hateful or degrading towards the many homosexuals that I have met or even associate with.

    If the above is true. Then I don't believe that it is fair to judge the people, that don't believe in judging and have judged regardless, for what one persons actions. Sure other Christians may do it to but to judge an entire group of people is ridiculous.

    I don't feel any hatred or bitterness towards homosexuals. I just feel that if they want to be free to express what they believe is right, why can't Christians do the same? A Christian's message may make one feel persecuted, but a homosexual's message of tolerance and telling a Christian that his beliefs are outdated and ridiculous isn't tolerance either.

    Posted by: JC-216 | Mar 15, 2005 1:55:16 PM


  20. I wish to remain unknown. I go to poway high school myself, i found this article amoungst research. Yesterday, once again was silence day, many kids participated in it or at least supported. Today cahse harper once again spoke out at lunch proclaiming his views. This time no harm was done since it was done in a good manner. Poway High has gay students itself, & many supporters. However students here like to speak out, inform eachother, & give there opinons. ( we have one of the best debate teams in california). Chase is a relatively nice kid ive heard, although i don't know him personally. He's very religious & wants his school to be fully informed on the matter. At our school we are often found sheltered by these issues, so when kids like him speak up hell breaks loose. Personally, I`m not against homosexuals, however i don't promote the matter either. I promote the fact that just like every other human, they have the right to there own lifestyle & are entitled to be accpeted by everyone. I know gay people,so don`t get me wrong, there totally awesome. We even have homosexual administartors here on campus. Many people are anti-gays in POWAY because there uninformed about these issues. On silence day we heard the pro-gay side. Today we heard his side. He's not a homosexual hater as he stated today "I DO NOT HATE HOMOSEXUALS" he just has very actually true honest facts to throw out there. He told us the dangers, scientific facts, & relgious matters. He reflects things they don't/won't tell us in school because they are afraid of controversy. I`m not defending this kid because i dont agree with all of his views & values. However, i don't think you understand the realtionships of students here by letting there voices be heard.

    Posted by: unknown | Apr 15, 2005 1:24:40 AM


  21. I'll have to agree with JC-216.
    I don't see anything wrong with this kid expressing his view. He isn't saying anything violent or hateful--just showing his beliefs. Why is it alright for the gay community to do so, but not the Christian community?

    The gay community will get nowhere at all if they continue with small acts of being hypocritical. Everyone has the same amount of free speech.

    Posted by: Matt | May 3, 2005 4:41:09 PM


  22. matt and jc-216 make a good point, but speaking up for your rights is different than "voicing your views".

    100 years from now, gay rights will be in the history books. the dust will have settled, and it will be clear that we were right all along.

    was ML King just "voicing his views"? no, he was RIGHT, and we all know it now! white supremacists still exist and are protected by the 1st amendment. they can speak, but they can no longer oppress. it should be the same with gays.

    let tyler wear his shirt. let the gays and allies wear their shirts. but do not equate the two. gays are doing something noble: fighting for their rights. people like tyler are just exercising free speech. no one is oppressing him. he already has all the rights he deserves.

    Posted by: Joey | Jun 12, 2005 12:42:16 PM


  23. Tyler is doing the right thing and I am a Christian to and I do believe that being gay is wrong.I hate the sin love the si nner. I think that Tyler does not hate the gay people but he hates what they believe.

    Posted by: Kara | Jul 24, 2005 11:00:25 PM


  24. I am a gay teenager who actually currently attends this school. Poway is actualy quite a open place for gays and lesbians even though its quite a conservitive town and area. i was there at the time of the incident and he wasnt beening hatefull but it was obviously ment to make a statement. The truth is that HE WAS breaking the rules by wearing that shirt! it is illiagal to wear home made or hand fashioned clothing including any shirt that has been written on to my school. it is also against the rules to wear any shirt that is offencive or antagonistic twards others. The school followed standard procedure and to the rules to the T. contact me if you want more info

    Posted by: Miro | Sep 8, 2005 7:19:28 PM


  25. Hahaha.. that kid is shameful xD

    Posted by: Mirob | Apr 22, 2006 1:24:09 PM


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