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Alabama

High school football fans display their homophobia on national television

Thursday, September 6, 2012

SPANISH FORT, Ala. — A nationally televised high school football game has captured some unexpected attention, not for what happened on the field, but for a homophobic banner held aloft by a group of students in the stands.

During the game against Spanish Fort High School and its arch-rival Daphne High School, ESPN cameras captured students displaying a sign which read, “Purple? Man, that’s GAY.” The sign was a reference to Daphne High School colors, one of which is purple.

Another sign read, “Daphne, Isn’t that a girl’s name?”

Image: ESPN

Baldwin County Public Schools spokesman Terry Wilhite said Wednesday that officials are aware of the sign and the issue is being addressed.

“It’s a regrettable moment by a few students whose wrongdoing doesn’t in any way represent the outstanding Spanish Fort community, high school or its students,” Wilhite said. “It was a gimmick to get national attention, and they were successful at that. What they won’t be successful at is doing it again.”

On Wednesday, Yahoo! sports columnist Cameron Smith criticized the students’ behavior, and wrote that Spanish Fort High School now has “a new homophobic reputation to defend against.”

“That’s the world we live in today. It’s proof that one wrong decision can propagate international headlines these days. That in itself is a teaching moment,” said Wilhite, who insisted the banner was a regrettable decision on the part of a handful of kids, and not an indicator of a homophobic mentality among the entire student body.

Cyd Zeigler, founder of Outsports.com, an innovative website dedicated to covering the gay sports community, told WPMI-TV the students are “not trying to pay the other team a compliment, they’re trying to insult them,”

“And to use the word ‘gay’ as an insult, it’s demeaning and incredibly offensive,” Zeigler said.

“That’s the world we live in today. It’s proof that one wrong decision can propagate international headlines these days. That in itself is a teaching moment.”

Wilhite did not offered specifics on how the students who held the banner will be disciplined, and said that any decision regarding disciplinary action would be up to the school’s principal.

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22 more reader comments:

  1. Personally, I couldn’t call that homophobia. Blatant ignorance of how something like that hurts people, yes. 100%. I think we are too quick to slink the term “homophobia.”

    Posted on Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 7:58pm
  2. Assholes

    Posted on Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 8:00pm
  3. More like derogatory use of the word. Not exactly homophobia. Still wrong. Could have come from a place of homophobia. But not homophobia in and of itself.

    Posted on Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 8:03pm
  4. “Purple? Man, that’s Black.”.

    Now the world can see the hate!

    Posted on Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 8:03pm
  5. It was truly classless.

    Posted on Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 8:03pm
  6. Haha! I read that in the comments, Thomas! Was gonna post it.

    Posted on Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 8:05pm
  7. It’s a deliberate mock of Spirit Day in which participants wear purple to show support for LGBTs. The idea is that “gay is less” is the obvious statement they are supporting. I wouldn’t want to be a gay student at that school.

    Posted on Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 8:13pm
  8. FINE THEN. Heterosexist. Assholish. I think claiming ignorance of both the use of purple and gay as derogatory is bullshit, honestly.

    Posted on Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 8:18pm
  9. Homophobia can be defined as the systematic oppression of gay people, or if we’re using it as an umbrella term, as all things queer. But the latter point is debatable.

    With that definition in mind, the fact that these kids think it’s okay to insult the other school by using the term gay. Because we were raised in a societal system that teaches people that being gay is less then. Although they might not consciously think that, that’s a bit of a problem because it shows that they have no form of critical analysis.

    This may have been a poor choice on the part of these kids, and would I say that they were trying to be actively hateful towards gay people, I’m not sure but I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say they weren’t.

    However, with that said, we are not jumping too quickly to apply the term homophobia. No doubt about it, this is homophobic and the behaviour and attitudes that motivated these kids to do this, needs to be addressed.

    Posted on Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 8:19pm
  10. Its homophobia, trust me

    Posted on Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 8:24pm
  11. This was taken so far out of context, it’s not even funny…

    Posted on Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 8:30pm
  12. kids without class

    Posted on Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 8:37pm
  13. it was ignorance because they werent taught to look past if ur homo or hetero. same as taught to look past a color of a person or taught to look past another religion.

    Posted on Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 9:24pm
  14. If 10 kids did this at the game, you have to realize/understand that there are probably 100 or more that think just like them at school. They just didn’t have the guts to go public with their offensive, insulting message.

    Posted on Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 9:27pm
  15. blame the parents; the kids aren’t born haters; it has to be taught

    Posted on Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 10:01pm
  16. The parents are sometimes to blame. But kids learn it from other kids as well. For ex. ‘my friend hates gays. He said they ____. That’s gross and I hate them too’. it is a combination of parents and peers.

    Posted on Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 10:23pm
  17. I would suspend them all, punish them by doing volunteer work at a hospice or something. Have them all wear Purple and Pink for a month.

    Posted on Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 10:34pm
  18. Not homophobia, just misuse of a term.

    Posted on Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 10:37pm
  19. They’ve got class and it’s all low.

    Posted on Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 11:13pm
  20. Calculated Homophobia, pure and simple! In this technological age with information on the subjects available everywhere here in North America and more…Calculated hate. I know some don’t want it to be that and before we(GLBT’s) are judged as having a chip on our shoulders wouldn’t you think out your message a little more? Would it affect you if it was a religious or color based message. There are just things you don’t say, period.

    Posted on Friday, September 7, 2012 at 5:57am
  21. It’s football what kind of intelligence do you expect

    Posted on Friday, September 7, 2012 at 9:09am
  22. To quote Morgan Freeman, “I hate the word ‘homophobia.’ You’re not afraid of gay people; you’re an ass hole.”

    Posted on Friday, September 7, 2012 at 11:55am