Something big is brewing at Southridge High School in Beaverton and it has to do with Uganda. On Friday afternoon, Southridge students met to discuss a march and rally they're organizing for Jan. 23 to demonstrate in Beaverton against impending anti-gay legislation in Uganda
While the practice of homosexuality has long been illegal in Uganda, some lawmakers in that African nation (with the help
of Americans who include Oregon Citizens Alliance alum Scott Lively
) now want to pass legislation that would intensify the punishments. If the bill becomes law, the government would give life sentences to anyone found to be an active homosexual, kill anyone found to be a “repeat offender” or any gay person who is HIV-positive, and provide up to a 7-year prison sentence for anyone who knows of a gay person and does not report them to the government within 24 hours of their discovery.
Back in Beaverton, members of Southridge's Uganda Club, Gay-Straight Alliance and student leadership are organizing the Jan. 23 event in Beaverton to protest those proposed nightmares. Uganda hits close to home for the students in part because Southridge has had a sister school in Uganda for six years. Southridge also has been no stranger to gay-rights issues - the school was at the center of controversy
in 2006 over its plans to stage “The Laramie Project” about the beating death of gay college student Matthew Shepard
of Laramie, Wyoming.
And what started as simply a school-wide project has quickly snowballed, with other schools now involved. Students also are trying to recruit U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden and U.S. Rep. David Wu (both D-Ore.) to speak at the rally Jan. 23.
“I had no idea it would be this big,” said Morgan Woods, member of the Southridge student leadership. “I'm so proud to say that I'm a part of this.”