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Open Letter to the Students and Parents in Oak Park, MO

Updated: Aug 22, 2022

To the Students of Oak Park HS in Kansas City, MO and their parents:

Thank you. Thank you all for standing up for your classmate.

I watched the video of the group of students in Kansas City, MO chase off the hate-based Westboro Baptist Church protesters tonight. The students have nominated a trans girl to be a prom queen. The hate group showed up with their signs to protest the support and acceptance shown by the students at the high school. A group of students simply walked into the group of protesters and started chanting “Long Live the Queens,” and the protesters fled.

I can’t tell you how happy this video makes me. I came out in 1988 as bisexual in San Jose, CA. I was lucky to be in northern California as a teen and have supportive parents. Nonetheless, I was the only openly gay kid on campus and there was a very low level of tolerance, let alone support, for gay teens. In fact, the few of us who were out traveled to a few central locations to connect and would have never of dreamed of having straight friends as supporters on campus.

I was out and an LGBT organizer in college. I took crap for that. I got death threats on my answering machine and was informed of a list of College Republicans who had targeted me and other LGBT organizers for either a “fix it” rape or beating. I had a lot of gay friends, but there was still a lot of tension and fear that went in to being openly gay.

I came out and remained out and loud because I believed that it might make a difference somewhere down the line. Watching the students in Oak Park stand up for their trans classmate is proof that all of us who came out and stayed out make a difference for another generation.

We have a long way to go. The LGBT community still faces more mental health issues, greater homelessness and more violence than our straight peers. This week, the 21st trans woman of the year was murdered in the U.S. However, things are changing. The students who stood up for their classmate are amazing proof of this.

To all the students who stood up, thank you. You are amazing kids and that was an incredible act of love. To the parents of the students who stood up, thank you. You rock! Raising kids is ridiculously hard. Bullying is at epidemic levels. Your kids not only stood up to bullies, but they stood up to adult bullies. Whatever you did to instill this sense of love in your kids needs to be recognized and used as an example of epic parenting.

I thank you with every part of me.

Rebecca E. Blanton

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