UPDATE:  Please email inquiries about this event to respect.uganda AT gmail DOT com

Please recommend the DailyKos version of this diary.  Thanks!

Uganda’s proposed gay genocide law isn’t just an abstract concern for students at Beaverton, Oregon’s Southridge High School.  Southridge has a sister school in Kalisizo, Uganda, and students and faculty from both have an ongoing and active relationship.

Southridge also has an active Gay-Straight Alliance club (GSA), and the entire school experienced the sting of anti-gay bigotry when in 2005 principal Amy Gordon (currently on leave) canceled The Laramie Project, a play exploring the hate crime murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard.  (The play was finally performed after a committee review process.)

According to Esther Griffin, a parent volunteer for the Southridge GSA, the interests and concerns of several student groups have now aligned.

[S]ome Southridge Leadership students were upset earlier this month about the proposed Ugandan “Kill The Gays” law, and went to both the Uganda Matale Sister Schools Club and the Gay-Straight Alliance at Southridge to talk about it, raise awareness. It was just a little class assignment/project Morgan and Seta (pictured together below, right) were doing to raise awareness, and since talking to the other clubs at school, it’s taken on a life of its own. The students are now working on a major “Respect Humanity: Uganda March and Rally” for Saturday January 23rd in Beaverton OR.

They are pulling in other Beaverton and westside (west of Portland) schools, as well as those in the Portland area.  There will be 3 starting points for the 12 noon marches (Southridge HS, Jesuit HS and Cedar Park MS), all ending at the Beaverton City Library fountain area for the rally at 1:15pm that day.

The students are still working on lining up speakers and other presenters for the event, and are hoping to tap U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and U.S. Representative David Wu (D-OR) for the job.

They want people to come march with them and join them at the rally and make their voices speak for those who cannot speak up for fear of harsh punishment. They want to get the word out across the country that Americans cannot be complacent about what is happening elsewhere in the world. They want to have Rachel Maddow talk about it on her show as part of her “Uganda Be Kidding Me” series, and they want to go on Ellen and Oprah, local TV and radio, etc.  And the students want it blogged about that students/teenagers/youth DO CARE and aren’t just sitting around wasting their time.

The students also hope to raise more money at the event to keep assisting their sister school in Uganda – they’ve already funded a science lab in their short 6-year friendship!

The list of what the Southridge HS students want is ambitious, but I can’t think of a group I’d like to help more achieve their goals.  I am really impressed by these students and their efforts.  By even drawing up that list they’ve achieved a lot by demonstrating a sincerity and concern all too rare in American society.  Thank you Southridge HS & Friends!  See you in Beaverton on the 23rd!