My cousin’s fifteen year old daughter posts on FB all the time about how much she loves Glee. I had seen part of one episode last season. I think it was the beginning. The sponsor was just trying to form the group and didn’t have enough volunteers.
I decided to watch it again last night. Although watching high school teenagers is not my idea of a show I am seriously interested in, the two episodes I watched clued me in to the idea that this show is addressing issues that affect all teenagers in America and probably world wide.
There was a vindictive football coach that made his players choose between football and glee when he purposely added an extra practice at the same time glee met. He did that because he believes he’s a consolation prize for his fiance. He thinks his guidance counselor fiance would prefer to be marrying the glee club sponsor.
There’s a cheerleader that was kicked off the team for being pregnant. She is claiming one boy is the father while another boy suspects he is.
One of the glee members is in a wheel chair due to an accident when he was eight. When the glee members couldn’t afford a special bus so that he could ride to competition with the group, they dismissed him and said he wouldn’t mind if his dad took him to the competition while the rest of them rode the regular school bus. The glee sponsor obtained enough wheel chairs so that all the members of the glee club had to ride in them to get a new perspective on how their fellow glee member feels.
Another boy is openly gay. His father is tying to accept him, but when the father receives a phone call at his business and an anonymous voice says, “Your son is a fag,” the father begins to question how much his open support of his son might cost his business.
The sponsor of the cheerleaders is ordered by the principal to be more inclusive in her choice of girls so she chooses a girl with Down’s Syndrome. Of course in this first episode with that strand of the theme, the coach has an ulterior motive for doing so. Stay tuned.
When I was growing up, there were no gays, no handicapped, no pregnant cheerleaders, no children with any kind of problems that weren’t within the norm in our school. Or so we thought. As soon as the one pregnant girl I ever knew in the whole school was discovered by the administration to be pregnant, she was whisked out of school. She sat in front of me in English and was called out of class our junior year. She never returned to school again.
The shows we had available to watch as we grew up were The Mousekateers, Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best, Lassie, My Three Sons, Dennis the Menace, The Andy Griffith Show, and Petticoat Junction. There may have been others with children in them but they were very few. None of them were about the children themselves. If they did, I missed them. I never saw anything with which I could ever identify.
No one ever talked about someone who was “other”. No one dared talked about problems the high school children might be facing. There were no elementary counselors who handled any problems other than purely academic. The high school counselors had precious little time for actual one on one student counseling either. Out of sight, out of mind. If we didn’t talk about it, it didn’t exist.
I was surprised, but also pleased, when I visited my son’s school where he works in Japan. The entire hallway was covered with bulletin boards. On the bulletin boards were topics that could NEVER have been discussed fifty years ago in my hometown. Drugs, date rape, alcohol abuse, smoking, gay discrimination, gay support groups, love, STDs, abstinence, depression, suicide….all of these and several more were openly displayed for the children (teenagers) to see every day. It was clear that help was available if any of these topics were problems to any of them. I was impressed. Of course this was not a public school.
I have not been in the halls of a public high school since I don’t know when. I doubt if they are allowed to be so frank as to the information that the students are allowed to receive. I would hope so. Teenagers in high school have to make decisions every day. They need as much information as possible. When we deny them access to people who understand their problems or to the information itself, we must all be ready to accept the consequences when they make an ill-chosen decision. These decisions adversely affect them now, possibly even leading to death, or can affect them for the rest of their lives.
I applaud shows that attempt to deal with issues involving young children today. I applaud even more that Glee is on FOX network which is the television network that is the one chosen by the ultraconservative among us. Some people are brave enough not to sweep such situations under the rug. We are not protecting our young people by shielding them from life. We are crippling them. They need to know. Namaste. Attic Annie