Moved by news reports from the fall semester that covered numerous gay teenagers bullied so badly in school that they were driven to suicide, Ridley decided to take some action of his own. The Springville, Utah resident, who owns a house right next door to Springville Junior High, put up three signs in his front yard, facing the school property. What did the signs say?
"Tell the truth." "Stop Gay Suicide." "Gays Are Born Gay."
The message behind the signs is pretty clear: young people should know that LGBT people exist, that it's all of our responsibility to address anti-gay bullying and LGBT suicide, and that treating people differently on the basis of sexual orientation is wrong because, to quote a favorite Broadway tune, 'We are who we are.'
"Kids either deny or are in denial that there's any homosexuality in the school," Ridley told The Daily Herald. But he hopes the signs also move educators and parents to talk to their children about how destructive teasing and bullying, including on the basis of sexual orientation, can be.
So how is the community reacting? Some parents have complained, which is somewhat odd, given that the intent of the signs is to curb something we should all be against -- suicide. And the school district? Well, one administrator called Ridley's grandchild into the principal's office to talk to her about the signs. That set off the child's mother, who told The Daily Herald that she was "livid" her daughter would be called out of class -- at an elementary school totally separate from the school that faces Ridley's property, no less -- to answer questions about signs in her grandfather's yard.
Still, Grandpa Ridley maintains that the signs are going to stay in his yard, facing the school, to send a very important message that schools need to address bullying directed toward LGBT students. All Ridley has to do is make sure he follows the city code regarding the signs, which he plans to do.
Anyone want to take bets on who America's favorite grandfather is today?