Wednesday, September 9, 2009

An Antidote To Gay-Straight Clubs: Christie Richmond Forms A "Mormon Club" At La Jolla High School In California

America's high schools have become inundated with so-called "Gay-Straight Clubs", around 3,500 nationwide at last count, which allegedly promote nothing more than "tolerance and understanding" between the straight community and the gay community (often referred to by the tongue-twisting acronym of "GLBTQ", which sounds more like a specialty sandwich from Burger King). Efforts to stymie the proliferation of these clubs have been hindered by the provisions of the Federal Equal Access Act, which requires schools to allow student clubs to be organized as long as attendance is voluntary, the group is student-initiated, the group is not officially sponsored by the school, the group is not disruptive, and they don't allow outsiders to acquire a controlling interest or engage in regular attendance. The only lawful alternative is if a school bans all student clubs.

However, if you can't beat them, you can instead compete against them, according to La Jolla (CA) High School student Christie Richmond. While she's taken no public position on gay-straight clubs, she decided to form a Mormon club on campus to address the growing public misperceptions about Mormonism. The full story of her accomplishments is published by the La Jolla Light (La Jolla is a suburb of San Diego for the geographically-challenged).

Richmond followed all the instructions. First, she circulated a petition; 100 signatures were required. After she got 260 signatures, the club was approved, and 60 people showed up at its first weekly meeting. Any La Jolla student is welcome to join the club.

Typically, the club leadership presents topics like the First Vision or topics out of the pamphlet "For the Strength of Youth" (a pamphlet of standards to guide Mormon youths, leaders and parents; HTML copy HERE, 47-page PDF copy HERE). On one occasion, a couple of full-time missionaries attended to explain their role. But they also plan social activities for club members where LDS standards of behavior are observed to show that people can have a good time while upholding LDS church standards. And it's not all funeral potatoes and green jello, either; pizza is frequently on the menu.

The Mormon Club is relatively new, since it is not yet listed on the school's list of student clubs, although a gay-straight club exists, as well as a branch of the controversial M.E.Ch.A., known colloquially as the "Mechistas", considered by some to be a Latino supremacist group (a student does not have to be Latino to join it, though).

Some anti-Mormons, particularly ex-Mormons who won't let go of the Church, will undoubtedly take issue with this club, claiming it's a mechanism for proselytization. Well, so what if it is; proselytization is free speech, and all religions are entitled to compete for adherents. Free speech applies to ALL, not just to those with whom we agree. But the primary purpose of this club is information, although some conversions may eventually result. Ex-Mormons need to understand that just because Mormonism didn't work for them doesn't mean it doesn't work period; millions continue to find spiritual satisfaction within the ranks of the Church, and ex-Mormons need to show more respect for those who choose to remain within the Church (in return, we can be less judgmental of those who leave).

Nevertheless, the creation of a Mormon Club, as well as any other religious clubs on high school campuses, will serve as a valuable and welcome counterweight to the proliferation of gay-straight clubs nationwide. If you can't beat them, compete against them.

1 comment:

Jacintod said...

Hey I am Christie Richmond the one who started the club! I am using my fiance's account to write the comment. My sister is now the president and it is going smooth. Thanks for the article! It is awesome!