Yep. You read that right. In almost 30 years of writing news and columns, I can add that to the list of headlines I never thought I would submit. But yes, an Ohio school hired a sex worker to talk about homeless encampments. Kinda makes you long for the good ‘ol days of Batboy and Bigfoot’s love slave in the Weekly World News, doesn’t it? I wish I could make something like this up, but my household budget does not include money for hallucinogens.
You know, sometimes the news is weird. Sometimes it is disheartening. Sometimes I have to take a moment, step back, and ask: “What the hell did I just see?”
First, introductions are in order.
Worthington Kilbourne High School is located just north of Columbus. The website for the Worthington school district declares that the schools are “Empowering a community of learners who will change the world!” At first blush, the district appears to have a lot on the ball, although there is a DEI page that features a Diversity Wheel, and a DEI Commitment Statement that says in part:
We will remain steady in educating our teachers and staff on the Impact of Implicit Bias and Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning. We will continue to focus on our Minority Teacher Recruitment Plan while striving for a racially equitable and diverse staff of educators and administrators.
Furthermore, we acknowledge that we must be humble enough to hear from our students of color, EL (English Learner) students and LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Biexual (sic), Transgender, Queer) students about where we may have fallen short. We have to be courageous enough to dig deep into our hearts to look for our implicit biases and to mitigate them. Because after all, we all have bias. And finally, we must have the fortitude to do what’s right and necessary to ensure our policies, practices, curriculum and staff all truly reflect our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
In fact, the page is full of DEI resources. That may sound irksome to you, but this of course is part and parcel of the education system these days. And who knows, the district may have had to add all of the DEI stuff to receive state and federal funding. Of course, given what has happened in school boards across the county, the district may be 100% on board.
Now meet Elizabeth Blackburn. According to the Daily Caller, Ms. Blackburn describes herself as a fat activist and an “anarchist bimbo.” I am still trying to figure out what being an anarchist bimbo entails. Since I am not H.P. Lovecraft, I will not try to give you any possible descriptions. I’m not sure that the adjectives exist. However, if you would like to know what a fat activist/anarchist bimbo looks like you can go here. There is a warning on the page.
On October 9, Worthington Kilbourne High School hosted Ms. Blackburn. Upon RSVPing to the invite, she made a second Twitter account private since she allegedly posts pornographic images there. Because I suppose that is what one does prior to speaking at a high school. Decorum, after all, must be maintained. The purpose of her visit? She was on hand to speak to members of the senior class about homeless encampments. The title of her talk? “Solidarity: the Case for Camp Shameless.”
Truth be told, I am not sure what being a fat activist, anarchist bimbo, and porn enthusiast has to do with homelessness, or how those hobbies/activities/passions equip someone to speak cogently on the issue. An adult is certainly free to spend her time in the manner she chooses, and it may well be that Ms. Blackburn’s credentials are limited to that of being an activist and a rebel/non-conformist, etc. And porn.
The Daily Caller had the same questions I did and decided to reach out to the school district. Superintendent Trent Bowers said that the purpose of the class, entitled “Politics and Radicalism,” is to expose the students to radical ideologies, adding:
…there was nothing presented to students like is being presented in social media online. Worthington Kilbourne recently had a speaker who focused on activism for the homeless population. That speaker’s social media is drawing attention and unfortunately people are not taking the time to understand that by nature the speakers in this elective-only class will be extreme.
They appear to have succeeded. One would think that schools would want to provide an alternative to social media, not use it as an excuse. And there is no shortage of discussions to be had when it comes to the issues of homelessness, including the causes and, for that matter, potential solutions. It seems as if there would be people better suited to addressing the problem. Unless the course is called “Politics and Radicalism.” In which case, Ms. Blackburn was a perfect choice.
Perhaps the school district is committed to overthrowing an already shaky status quo, and to the idea that nothing of substance can be achieved without revolution. Or maybe it is so enamored with the idea of being progressive, that it is at the point that it is simply accepting anyone who promises to provide a point of view that is perpendicular to the traditional way of thinking. But the problem with pushing the envelope is that at some point, one crosses the event horizon. And at that moment, annihilation on an atomic level begins, and no one and nothing is safe. Not even anarchists.