Graeme Taylor: 14-year old Rights Advocate Extraordinaire

Graeme Taylor, a 14-year old student from Ann Arbor, Michigan, addressed the Howell School Board this past week with an eloquent and impassioned plea on behalf of a teacher who had been put on suspension without pay after ejecting students from his class for what he deemed to be anti-gay remarks.

Taylor’s remarks, which were not prepared, drew the attention of national media through a video first posted by a local news source that quickly went viral. No need to try to describe it, you can view here and you’ll get the picture. This young man is articulate, intelligent and confident in his extemporaneous address.

Here are some additional sources for the original story, and link to the video of his address:

openly-gay-ann-arbor-teens-defense-of-howell-teacher-gains-national-attention

Ann Arbor teenager Graeme Taylor on the Ellen Show

Yesterday he was featured on The Ellen Show and gave her a run for her money while expressing how he has come to be accepting of his identity. Watch here:

By his own admission, Graeme Taylor survived a suicide attempt at the age of 9 years. But he has come back from the bullying that drove him to nearly end his life to becoming a strong advocate for self-acceptance, human rights and fairness.

Most people discount our young people, yet they are far more sophisticated and knowledgeable than we adults give them credit for. The world is smaller today, faster, and with the advent of  the internet connecting people all around the globe, our youth are more informed and cognizant of the diversity of the Human Family, as well as critical issues of the day than I believe many of us were.

What impressed me most about this young man is how much he reminds me of the young people that grew up as part of my extended family. I’ve been privileged to work and travel with some extraordinary youth.

They were all home schooled and they accompanied their parents to many states and countries, participating in cross-cultural programs, and personal development presentations. The world was their classroom and their worldliness reflected that fact.

These young people were raised in an environment where Respect was paramount. Guided by the wisdom and experience a capable Elder, they were treated as capable individuals. They were raised to be responsible, i.e. to “respond with ability” to whatever they encountered. The adults who had the privilege to work with these young people learned a great deal about themselves in the process, their own upbringings, how to heal the past, and create a better present.

When children are raised with Respect, and provided the opportunity to realize their full potential at each step of their development, rather than being sheltered and denying their intelligence and creativity, they are fully capable of delivering a positive contribution to family, community and society at large.

Graeme Taylor is not atypical. When raised in an environment of acceptance and love, and given responsibility, young people will rise to the occasion. This 14 year old’s sexual identity isn’t really the issue here – it’s not the most important part of the story. The real heart of this story is how a young person can evolve into a courageous, forthright citizen when given the opportunity.

We need to encourage and listen to more young leaders like Graeme Taylor. Obviously one organization agreed, in that he was presented with a $10,000 Scholarship by Tonic.com, “a digital media company dedicated to promoting the good that happens around the world each day. We share the stories of people and organizations that are making a difference by inspiring good in themselves and others.”

Right on!  -MsQueer 🙂

©2010 MsQueer.com. All rights reserved.

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