Klein Destined

Same old lies: I want to express my appreciation for your writing "Situational Ethics" [by Margaret Downing, February 20], about the Klein school district's foot-dragging attempt to ban a Gay Straight Alliance from their school. One thing I really like about your style of writing is that you manage to capture a prodigious amount of information and insight in only two pages.

For readers unaware of the situation, or who didn't gain much from the Chronicle's breezy treatment of it, this was a needed service. It is the best summary of the matter I have seen in any printed source in Houston.

Klein's administration, like so many others in Texas and more conservative districts, seems hell-bent on making sure it can allow yesterday's prejudices to survive to the next generation. The same lies from decades ago never die because parents and teachers seem adamant in the notion that if it's ignored it will simply cease to be a problem.

Some parents probably just don't want to be bothered, or they think the GSA will be a front for sex. Still others fashion themselves as defenders of morality, using goal-line stances like this to tell the world that God Is on Their Side.

What they fail to recognize in their callousness is that young people are scared and vulnerable and need support, and that without a group such as a GSA, such people can find themselves in dire straits.

I certainly hope that cases like this become more prevalent and publicized, because it seems this is the only way that change (in this matter) is going to come about. Please keep up the fine writing. In taking on this matter, you have done a kind service for gay students (who, we hope, will become healthy gay adults) in the Houston metro area, and for that I, again, thank you.

Name withheld by request

Majority rules: It became very obvious, quickly, that your column and opinion were one-sided on the Klein GSA club issue. I thought a writer (if you want to call it that), such as yourself, had the responsibility to report news as stories in an unbiased, factual manner. Throughout your column you conveyed opinions of others as fact and presented them as fact with little or no basis. With this kind of approach you are only fueling the issue and assisting in the fight to encourage the people that disagree with the GSA to get involved and fight further. For this I thank you for the column.

Once again, the opinion of a few tries to overpower the majority. If Marla Dukler was really concerned that these few students have a place to go, I believe she would have already set up a meeting place outside school to take care of their needs. Since we have not seen this "walk the talk," I believe this is just a form of sensationalism on her part and she deserves the harassment she is getting. Not because of her preference but because of her motive.

If you are a good writer, you now should give equal time to the other side and allow readers to make their own judgment, not be pushed to yours. I support Mr. Huff and the school board.

Jeff Hawkins

Forcing parents to talk: Sounds to me like Klein needs a gay-straight club for unstated reasons. I've heard the stories of teens who experimented with this behavior. It wasn't because they were even remotely gay, but because it was something to do, because their parents abdicated taking them to church or teaching what they felt was right or wrong -- those parents insisted that the children have the opportunity to make their own choices, unburdened by their parents' values.

But if this club gets formed, maybe those parents will have to talk to their children about difficult issues, teach them their moral values and show them how, in a diverse society, you treat people with fundamentally different sets of values from yours.

Looking at the violent polarization on serious social issues facing our country, I feel that today's adults never learned this lesson well. It'd be good if clubs like this help the children do better when they grow up: how to deal with people with opposing values without sacrificing your own.

C. Hinkle

Safety first: Thank you for your article about Klein ISD and Marla's efforts to start a GSA at her school. H.A.T.C.H. is an organization dedicated to empowering GLBTQ youth, ages 13 to 20, to become positive contributors to society by providing a safe social environment, offering role models and peer support.

H.A.T.C.H. was founded for just the reasons mentioned in the article, and is a safe place for GLBTQ youth to meet peers and receive support. We have helped youth and school professionals found GSAs in other schools and offer that assistance to any school.  

Most of all, thank you to Marla for her courage in taking a leadership position in this issue, in an atmosphere that clearly has a long way to go in supporting all of its students in having a safe and happy school experience.

Ann J. Robison, executive director
Montrose Counseling Center/H.A.T.C.H.

Editor's note: In a settlement of Dukler's lawsuit last week, Klein ISD officials authorized a Gay Straight Alliance for the campus. They said they were legally required to accept the club.

Cultural Cymbals

Worth the money: I liked your article a lot ["Going Baroque," by Jennifer Mathieu, February 20]. The public needs to be more informed because they really have the power in all this. Imagine the audience going on strike to prevent a strike from the musicians or to improve the management. That should get them back to the bargaining table.

And the article really spelled out the difficulties that all orchestras, not just the Houston Symphony Orchestra, are facing. The musicians of HSO spend their lives hoping and preparing for the artistic journey of being in a world-class orchestra, and once there, they, like athletes, deserve to be compensated for their talents and personal investment that in turn positively benefits our city. They teach in our schools, they help the sick, and they entertain thousands.

One thing left out of your article is how the other orchestral arts organizations are doing. OrchestraX (I'm the artistic director and principal conductor) is having a great sixth season. We too are not immune to the economic challenges in our city, but, and not just in name alone, we are more of the same philosophy of Jennifer Wu.

Houston does support its arts and has always supported excellence and innovation whether in music, dance, theater or fine arts.

John Axelrod

Pure Motives for Peace

Antiwar wisdom: What is the problem with the letter writer who is against the peacemakers [Letters, "Peacemakers," February 20]? If his mission as a protester back in the '60s was just to get into girls' pants, then he really didn't have any business protesting. Not everyone who protests the wars is that kind of person.

I support the efforts for peace, and someone like this person gives the rest of us a bad name. Funny how he would refer to Stalin and Marx when they believed in communism and cared nothing for peace or the equal rights of humankind.

So tell me: Who is he to talk so badly about the ones who want peace? Maybe he's the fool because he hasn't educated himself in the ways of the world. There are hundreds of thousands of people out there who are not what he referred to as "fools and buffoons," nor are they out there protesting in order to get involved in orgies.

Name withheld by request

Ignore the Iraq Conflict

Council priorities: Will someone explain why our City Council would spend one nanosecond debating U.S. military action against Iraq [The Insider, by Tim Fleck, February 20]? Like they don't have more pressing problems to deal with on our behalf?

Gordon Quan and his band of liberal henchmen need to focus on traffic congestion, torn-up streets and construction companies that seem to live by the adage "Take a short job, make it long -- take a long job, make it longer!" They also need to focus on the staggering budget shortfall created and nurtured by Lee "Is there anything I haven't screwed up yet?" Brown.

Yo, Gordo! You, Carroll, Ada, Annise, Carol, Gabe and Hiznumbness need to get off your lazy butts and fix our city instead of drafting a resolution that Bush, Rumsfeld, Condy and Colin could give a rat's ass about. As if!

The argument that a U.S. attack will take money away from cities is especially galling coming from a city that pissed away its golden egg from the '90s economic boom. We worry about our negative image so much, now you know how we got it: inept civil servants. If this were Vaudeville, they'd bring out the hook! I need some milk of magnesia.

Dan Davila

No Way to Whiz

Provolone's plenty: I routinely enjoy your food columns, but I must take issue with the one concerned entirely with the blessings of Cheez Whiz or lack thereof at various local cheese steakeries ["Say Cheez," by Robb Walsh, February 20].  

I lived in Philly for four years, and while Pat's Cheez Whizzy version may be the "king of" Philly cheese steaks, it is by no means the only way of preparing an authentic one. In fact, the half-dozen assorted places where I ate Philly cheese steaks, both downtown and in the burbs, did not use Cheez Whiz. At all. Not one.

Provolone was good enough. If it and the steak are matched just right, and the greasy drippiness of the steak mixes in without turning the bun totally soggy, I feel the sandwich is as good or better, texture-wise, than the vaunted Whiz version. And most important, it isn't revolting to two-thirds of the populace!

Cheez Whiz alone does not a Philly cheese steak make, though I support your right to ruin a sandwich with it. Thanks for the article, though. I hadn't tried Jake's, and now I will. But sans Whiz, please!

Gregory Cook

Indie Integrity

Reject the marketing: In my opinion, anyone who takes seriously a statement like "If you don't want people to hear your music, then why bother making it at all?" has no business using the term "indie rock" [Racket, by John Nova Lomax, February 20]. Where has Mr. Lomax been for the past 20 years? Independent music in America was built on a near-total rejection of the kind of marketing that Mr. Grulke represents.

Not that I bear any ill will toward SXSW or any particular love for Houston, but I could do without bullshit like this: "Once you [get people to hear your music], Grulke says, then you can start talking about integrity." As if integrity were something we owed to commercial success and not to our own character. Honestly, who does Racket think he is to tell people how to run their own bands -- and lives -- with integrity?

Daniel Mee

Rusted shine: I was deeply disturbed by John Nova Lomax's taunting and outright put-down of Don Walsh of Rusted Shut [Racket, February 20] and his ignorance of Houston's role in music in general.

If there is any band that represents the true "soul" of Houston, that would be Rusted Shut. As Houston vies for America's fattest, most polluted, most death row, greediest, most enigmatic titles, Houston is a cacophony of chaos that masquerades as a city.

This cacophony has been Houston's contribution to 20th-century American music: noise, abstraction, toughness, psychedelia, grunge. Houston is often 20 years ahead of other cities. Seattle would be nothing if not for Houston's innovations. What Mr. Lomax may be dismissing as passé or trite is merely that the world has slowly been catching up with Rusted Shut.

I have met people who have moved to Houston because Rusted Shut lives and plays here. This is not Don and Sybil's first trip to SXSW. Rusted Shut was chosen by committee members, some of who have been influenced by their product.

The coordinators of SXSW seem to know something that Mr. Lomax does not. Though it is almost certain that Rusted Shut will not be doing duets with Tony Bennett anytime soon, Rusted Shut's draw is unmistakable.

Kevin Jackson

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