Kids Teaching Adults Civility: That Other McKinney Incident

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McKinney, Texas has been called one of the greatest cities to live in America. After a week of unrelated and unflattering national headlines, it may be time to add an asterisk to that distinction. The fine print might include “depending on your identity.”

Just before the outrage was sparked over the video showing former McKinney officer Eric Casebolt unnecessarily escalating a situation that was fueled by racial bias, middle schoolers in McKinney were told they could not wear “Gay O.K.” shirts in support of their friend who had become a target of bullies at their school.

In the former situation (that has vastly overshadowed the latter) the caucasian kid who filmed the viral video said he felt “invisible” and that the officer’s response was “out of line” compared to the other responding officers. Apparently, the McKinney police agreed. They accepted Casebolt’s resignation and the Chief publically referred to his behavior as “out of control.” I think it is also important to note that the Chief also lauded the 11 other officers who acted more professionally.

What both events highlight though, are kids acting with more tolerance and civility than the adults that should be leading by example.

When students stood up for the equal treatment, love and tolerance of their friend experiencing hateful bullying, they should have been encouraged not disciplined. What is most troubling is that the kids made the shirts only after reporting the abuse to the school’s Vice Principal who was said to have mocked the 7th grader instead of addressing the mistreatment. Luckily, community response has prompted the district to perform its own review in which they have already acknowledged that the kids were wrongfully punished.

“They cared more about our simple shirt that said ‘Gay O.K’ than the extreme bullying that has happened to the people who have come out recently,” Sammy Heiman, a seventh-grader who made the shirts, told BuzzFeed News.

McKinney is fortunate it’s future is bright, because the current voting age population seems to be well represented by those who view discrimination as a legitimate public policy.  State Representative Scott Sanford (R-McKinney) is the same legislator who authored the “license to discriminate” bill that would have allowed religious adoption firms to exclude loving homes from potential adoptees because their adopters were gay. He also signed an open letter saying that he supports “traditional marriage.” Now social conservatives are beaconing Governor Abbott to call a special session to address what many expect to be a Supreme Court ruling in support of the freedom to marry. Would you be surprised if I told you that many of those folks hail from North Texas as well?

Since the high profile incidents, rallies in McKinney on behalf of tolerance and justice have been held for each cause.  And, according the a report by WFAA, “Sammy Heiman is now dealing with more requests for her “GAY O.K.” T-shirts.” It sounds like the adults of McKinney have a lot to learn from their kids, especially if they’d eventually like to remove that asterisk.

Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

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About Author

Joe Deshotel

Joe was born and raised in Beaumont, Tx, but live music and politics brought him to Austin. He has worked in and around government and elections for over a decade including for a member of US Congress, the Texas Legislature, the Mayor of Austin. He currently serves as Communications Director for the Travis County Democratic Party. He is most interested in transportation, energy and technology issues. He also likes Texas Hold'em and commuting on his electric skateboard. Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

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