Keep the Turning Point USA Club out of Johnston Schools

“Grand Ole Podcast” by Lucas Gorsh opened March 3, 2021, with a bit of bragging. “A lot of people know me and my podcast and know, ‘He’s not going to take bullshit from anybody. They’re not going to ‘force their liberal agenda’ on me.” The Johnston High School student then followed up with a story about encountering a woman using the urinal in the men’s restroom at school.

It was, according to Gorsh, an example of what he would not take. The episode was titled “Transgender is a Problem” and the “problem”, as Gorsh saw it, was, “Why do we teach kids that if you’re a boy, becoming a girl is perfectly okay?” No, this is not the case. . … You’re going to stick with those parts the rest of your life.”

“I don’t really have any respect for these people.”

So he responded by making fun of his classmate, he said. “Oh my God, I’ve never laughed so much in my life.”

Continued:Rekha Basu: Results at Johnston and other school board races reveal resistance to fairness

Gorsh’s podcast is described as the work of “a new generation curator”. The site boasts of “new shows weekly, bringing liberals to tears every day”. His story continued with an encounter in the hallway where the other person asked why Gorsh was laughing, and Gorsh did not accept that he identified as a man. At one point, the other student threatened to tell the principal that Gorsh was hateful.

“I flip her, tell her to fuck off,” Gorsh bragged.

Lucas Gorsh addresses the Johnston School Board

He also called the person a “fat bastard” and “it”, and proclaimed that transgender people crave attention, are mentally ill and throw “a pity party”. He denounced LGBT outreach efforts as “the bull of the Pride community—-“. And he warned that unless people like him spread the word, “This will invade the country. »

Donald Trump has not provoked hatred from others who are not like us, but he has legitimized it in his attempt to incite a culture war over votes. Such bombastic and crude condemnations of LGBT people or racial minorities are now a recipe for attracting large audiences. And they labeled non-political issues like gender identity as political.

Continued:Rekha Basu: Many run as Black at uncivil time in Iowa local school board, city council races

That’s why I can’t stand Democrats,” Gorsh continued, calling President Joe Biden, “Joe, you idiot.” This after Gorsh insisted that he, Gorsh, “deserved” being respected by the student from the bathroom. This was after he, Gorsh, started a conflict by making fun of them.

If those encounters went exactly as he said, Gorsh is lucky to have been spared punishment for harassing someone based on their gender identity. But maybe the offense was not reported because the other person felt ashamed. Now Gorsh is about to graduate, and on Monday he appeared before the Johnston School Board, urging it to allow a Turning Point USA chapter on the Johnston campus. It’s a far-right, deep-pocketed, national organization whose website says it’s “in a battle to save America’s classrooms from the indoctrination of the radical left.”

Continued:Johnston School Board Members Support Formation of Turning Point USA High School Chapter; some worried parents

One of the things he apparently wants to “save” them from is expressing a gender identity different from their birth assignment. Founded as a nonprofit by activist Charlie Kirk in 2012, Turning Point says it opposes “un-American, immoral, and racist teachings,” including critical race theory, the 1619 Project, and “sexual/gender ideology”.

The Washington Post reported that Kirk “also scorned the demands for racial justice that followed the 2020 police killing of George Floyd, calling the black man a ‘bastard'”.

Turning Point USA maintains watch lists of school boards and teachers it considers radical. He supports socially conservative candidates for school boards across the country.

“I love Turning Point USA,” Gorsh told Johnston’s board on Monday, adopting a bloodier demeanor than on his podcast. He said he had been approached by parents to start a club chapter and that the past few years had been difficult for conservative students, who have no voice at school, are in the minority and are hated for their opinions. “I think it would be very beneficial for Johnston.”

Continued:Will Johnston, Iowa’s Last School Club, Be Turning Point USA?

Johnston science teacher Neal Patel, who spoke out against the club at the board meeting, wondered why issues such as gender identity were even considered politically: “When I think about political things, I think about financial policy, national security, macro ideas like that,” he said.

The club’s Johnston chapter held a kick-off meeting before an endorsement was sought or received. Additionally, several Republican state representatives and Johnston school board member Deb Davis were at a Turning Point event with high school students. And Clint Evans, one of three Conservative candidates to win Johnston’s last board election, met with other school districts that already have the club.

At the board meeting, Gorsh described a club aimed simply at promoting civil discussion and “open lines of communication,” saying it would provide travel opportunities to national conventions and “give back” to the community. through “roadside cleanups” and a show of appreciation for the military. members. He said he already had 2,500 high school chapters and that as a 501(c)(3) organization he could not be partisan.

But Gorsh was asked by speakers, including classmates, about his membership in an organization which one woman called a ‘hateful and hurtful group that promotes ignorance’ and was unlikely to engage in a constructive discussion. “It’s clearly pushing an agenda that whole bands in America shouldn’t exist,” she said.

He replied that the student chapter could not be held responsible for the parents’ controversial actions and that the student group would be independent. But when asked why students couldn’t just start their own club, he acknowledged he could get some financial support from the national organization. Turning Point USA has raised more than $80 million from undisclosed donors based on its last four tax returns, The Washington Post reported.

“As a gay student, I wouldn’t feel safe with this group in this neighborhood,” said one young woman, citing what she called his “hateful”, “divisive” and “extremist” rhetoric.

A senior man noted the organization’s continued collaboration with Ben Shapiro, whom Gorsh gave a “gushing shout” on his podcast. The former editor of far-right newspaper Breitbart News between 2012 and 2016 made a controversial podcast called The Daily Wire.

Turning Point and its proponents clearly aim to undo much of the social progress made by underrepresented and marginalized groups over the years. Gorsh clearly has his own biases, as evidenced by the podcast, and he can hardly be expected to lead something that respects all viewpoints. Besides, he graduated and won’t be here for that

But the influence of groups outside the radical programs is having a chilling effect on some educators and students. The 1776 Project is another – a political action committee dedicated to electing school board members who, in its terms, will promote patriotism and pride in American history. To that end, he wants to abolish teaching about America’s racist past as a slave state.

Related:What’s the “1776 Promise” that pissed off the Johnston School District in Iowa?

The impact helped seal Patel’s decision to leave the teaching profession at the end of the school year, after three years in the district. “The current climate has left me jaded and unmotivated to pursue my studies,” he said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. He referenced a Johnston parent’s recent complaint about some schoolbooks she considered inappropriate. Her complaint was twice dismissed by the school board, Patel said, but she filed it a third time, even after transferring her child to a private school.

Patel, who is Indian-American, says the prospect of legal action following new state laws against teaching certain things also affects his ability to do his job. “This work is co-opted by a political agenda,” said the ninth-grade physical science teacher. A Republican lawmaker took issue on Facebook that Patel has a Pride flag and a Black Lives Matter flag in his classroom.

“We just want to create an environment where people can be who they are and who they want to be without it becoming a political issue,” Patel said.

At Monday’s meeting, Patel read aloud a letter from a transgender student apologizing for not going to school that day. The student wrote that he had an anxiety attack after other children laughed at him as he ran away in tears. “I don’t feel safe at school,” he wrote.

This student also leaves.

These issues need to be addressed before more students and faculty are driven out. Inviting to a Turning Point USA club would do the opposite of making everyone feel welcome and safe. This would politicize and threaten the hard-won civil rights recognized by the courts and the general public. It must be rejected.

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