“Self Segregation”

Eric 'Renderking' Fisk - First published on The Indy Experience, July 31st, 2003

Everyone has had dreams of being in an environment tailored just for themselves. It’s always a fleeting daydream that lasts a short while, the reality is that it would become boring real fast and we remind ourselves once again that variety is the spice of life.

I’ve always been different, I always stand out yet manage to find a way to fit in to any setting. In my mother’s vast collection of photographs, more then a third of me are ones with me wearing a fedora. Most of the photographs my father has of us hiking back in the late 80’s and early 90’s there are pictures of me wearing a fedora out in the woods and out on the trail. My favorite pictures are the ones us going to Chicago on the train. There’s the pictures of me standing by the train wearing what I called my “field” shirt” and my fedora at the Boston station. There’s a picture of me leaping into the air wearing my fedora in front of the “Toledo” sign. Finally, there are pictures of us at the Chicago train station where scenes from The Untouchables, My Best friends Wedding and various other movies were filmed. 

In short, I was and always have been a "Retro" or "Gearhead" long before the term was coined. I was always “The Other guy with the hat” or if you were a jock, I was “the dork with the old-man lid”. While kids my own age were wearing ball caps in gym… I wore the fedora. In short I was the geek for the Golden-Age vintage. I might have, but I don’t remember wishing that I could have our own High School.

It never dawned on me that there should be a school for kids with separate lifestyles or interests. After reading a story on CNN - First public gay high school to open in NYC And again on Fox news N.Y.C. to Open High School for Gays I now realized that it’s only a matter of time before everyone has their own way and gets their own school. Soon I’ll be able to send my son to his own school to go to for red-headed, fedora wearing kids with retrocentric parents. 

A bad idea how’s time has come and gone… and come back again.

Segregation was a bad idea. The notion of separating white children from black children in “Separate but Equal” schools was perhaps the one of the most demonically inspired and evil ideas since slavery. Segregation was brought to an end in schools with the court ruling in “Brown v. Board of Education (1954)”, declaring that segregation of public schools violated the constitution. “All men are created equal”  line of thinking- that ‘All’ means ‘All’… with out having to question what’s the definition of the word “is” is. Further more, by 1968 the court ruled that all other forms of  segregation were illegal.

That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. As time has progressed, more and more groups are requesting to be segregated. In many colleges, minority groups are requesting separate dormitories in college. Progressively, more and more groups are asking for their own “Separate but Equal” institutions. The latest, as I stated earlier with the links to CNN and Fox news, Teen-age Homosexuals now have their own high school. According to the Fox News story which quotes the New York Post: “The city is opening a full-fledged high school for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students -- the first of its kind in the nation, The Post has learned. Operating for two decades as a small alternative program with just two classrooms, the new Harvey Milk High School officially opens as a stand-alone public school with 100 students in September.”

Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase: “Milk Money”.

High School - The Great Leveler.

CNN posted this AP story with a quote from the city’s mayor: "I think everybody feels that it's a good idea because some of the kids who are gays and lesbians have been constantly harassed and beaten in other schools," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday. "It lets them get an education without having to worry." 

Regardless of what people tell you about their high school careers (they call it a “Career” so the kids who have to repeat a few grades don’t feel so bad for staying there so long) everyone gets picked on, I’ve been in more fights I care to count. The older jocks pick on the younger jocks, the popular girls pick on the younger popular girls… and the older A\V teens pick on the younger A\V teens. If I was a high schooler with other Retro-Heads… I might have picked on the younger kids for not having a screen accurate block.

Besides what you’re supposed to learn in High-School- Reading, writing, Arithmetic, history and maybe some art, music other vocations… High School is supposed to teach you how to deal with diversity. You’re going to have to learn that just like you, everybody is different. My favorite quote comes via the Fox News story from New York State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long. [He] blasted the school as "social engineering" that wastes tax dollars. "Is there a different way to teach homosexuals? Is there gay math? This is wrong. This makes absolutely no sense," Long said. "There's no reason these children should be treated separately."

The Fox story continues: Long said there are city and state discrimination laws on the books and that authorities should enforce them to stop gay-bashing. "What next? Maybe we should have schools for chubby kids who get picked on. Maybe all kids who wear glasses should have special schools. It's ridiculous," he said. Long is on the right track, in a world where the craziest of all ideas seem to be sure bets and “Chubby High” might soon be right around the corner and down a few blocks from the Milk’s School.

This is just another reason why schools are failing because of more social engineering that helps out a few “disadvantaged” kids and another argument for home schooling. School administrations can be accused of being more concerned about “feelings” and less about academic basics. These kids will be further damaged with the stigmatism because they made the choice of going to this gay school because they couldn’t handle learning unless they were in a specialized environment. Also, If I demanded to have a separate school for “queer kids” because I didn’t want them to “recrute” or “influence” my child, I would correctly be labeled a bigot. Somehow it’s ok for THEM to be asked to be separated, but the outcry to separate THEM by another group would cause a deafening outcry.

The Renderking Fisk Memorial High School.

I could also make a case that being a Vintage Aficionado, Retrocentric and wearing "IndyGear" qualifies us all as a separate society and that we demand our own schools for our children. "The Raiders outfit" could be the school uniform, moderators of our favorite forums could be asked to write the text books. Physical Education could be running from scantly clad natives, firearm and bullwhip usage… health class could teach kids how to treat their own minor gun-shot wounds and take punches from scorned ex-girlfriends. But the young adults who would earn these diploma's would find quickly that the “Lambskin” [pun intended] wouldn’t be worth anything. Nobody would want to hire someone who went to a high school that wasn’t bounded in the world of reality and never had to cope with diversity.

The whole argument for “Affirmative action” is based on how the learning process is enriched by diversity. Schools are supposed to be enhanced by the melting pot of different cultures, backgrounds and lifestyles. To allow special groups have their own institution ends that argument. The CNN article quotes: The Hetrick-Martin Institute's Web site (A gay-rights youth advocacy group, the Hetrick-Martin Institute, has managed and financed the program since its inception) says the school will give its students "an opportunity to obtain a secondary education in a safe and supportive environment. ... We believe that success requires the ability to respect and value the diverse human community." As well meaning as this might be, these statements undid two decades of work done by groups fighting for diversity and give plenty of ammunition to the other side of the argument. It’s almost as if to say: “We’re all in favor of diversity in schools- except when it no longer suits our purposes.”

Children who are growing into the adults who will inherit this world will have to learn sooner or later how to deal with each other and cope with their differences. One day, my son who’s being raised as “Nostalgic-American”, will be in a meeting room discussing something important with other whites, blacks, Asians and even homosexuals. School segregation through sexual orientation does more to divide then unite us and teaches incorrectly that we have less in common then others. It would also send the messages to kids that homosexuals are different and need to be coddled and given preferential treatment. Separate schools for separate sexual orientation or varying lifestyles is an idea that should be shunned and ridiculed.

On the other hand, someday seeing my son wearing his own Akubra fedora while being driven off to his own Indy-school in a retro-modern version of a bus would be pretty cool. I’m sure I’m going to get Goosebumps when he asks me for help in his text books when he’s stuck on an answer for his reading of Michaelson, chapters 3 and 4.e THEM by another group would cause a deafening outcry.