Praise for the ‘burbs

Regarding Ms. Gordon’s, Mr. Cherry’s and “Jaygream’s” letters to “Back Talk” in the 9/24 issue, I am both saddened and angered to hear each of them refer rather disdainfully to “cookie cutter” communities of the “suburban wasteland.” As a former
resident of Oakwood and a current resident of their so-called
suburban wasteland, I can assure them it is far from the cultural and intellectual desert they imagine. The houses may not be as architecturally significant, but the people within them are as diverse and full of character as any within Oakwood. It is the people, not the buildings, that make a community, and ours is a vibrant one. These letter writers would be better served to consider all the homes in our area as part of their own community instead of dismissing them as a wasteland. Doing so would introduce them to a real diversity of mindset, culture and lifestyle richer and grander than any gingerbread adorning their porches.

Kristy Hansen, Raleigh

Mad about ad

I was dismayed to see the prominent full-page ads for Ploom tobacco vaporizers inside the front cover of recent editions of the Indy. Vaporizers are just another tobacco industry strategy to addict people to tobacco or to sustain that addiction among those that already spoke. Industry assertions that vaporizers help smokers to quit or that they are safer than cigarettes are questionable and contested by the scientific community. And with tobacco flavors like peppermint, honey, cinnamon, and peach it is clear that this product is specifically targeting young people. I recognize and respect Indy’s need to generate revenue from advertisements. However, I expect the Indy to demonstrate good judgment in the ads it chooses to run. I doubt you would run an advertisement for automatic weapons and, yet, tobacco vaporizers are just as lethal.

David Napp, Durham

Support for gay-straight alliances

How disappointing to hear of Stanback Middle School’s ridiculous decision to eliminate the Gay-Straight Alliance, along with all other non-academic clubs. Fortunately, it has only strengthened the resolve of local Gay-Queer-Straight Alliance (QSA) leaders and members to make all schools safer places that affirm lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender queer, gender non-conforming, straight, and all other identities and expressions. In iNSIDEoUT, I work with hundreds of these young people. The battles they’ve already won, and the exponential growth of the QSA movement have me convinced that Stanback’s elimination of the QSA will not be longstanding. As in Salt Lake City, Rowan-Salisbury, and many other places, efforts to prohibit these vitally important clubs will likely give way to compassion and sensibility.

Some question the need for clubs for middle school students whose focus includes issues of gender and sexuality. Middle school students need QSAs because, like all of us, they experience a violent, oppressive, heteronormative, sexist and sex-obsessed culture from birth. The QSA movement is a resistance movement that seeks to create a world where everyone is encouraged to be exactly who they are, without fear of judgment, and where young people’s thoughts and feelings are validated and listened to. We need these clubs at every age level because such spaces do not exist in the rest of the world. And because at every age level, youth who are or are perceived as LGBTIQ face disproportionate rates of school suspension, depression, self-injury, substance abuse and suicide. The existence of QSAs has meant the difference between life and death for so many young people. Gloria Jones should be ashamed of her homophobic decision to deprive her students of these life-saving communities.

Amy Glaser,