People Are Awesome: Superintendent Tells Critics of Lesbian Homecoming Couple to Buzz Off

San Diego Superintendent Bill Kowba says he's "furious" people are complaining about a lesbian homecoming couple.

When students voted a lesbian couple as homecoming king and queen at San Diego's Patrick Henry High School last week, perhaps they were too young and naïve to know that controversy was inevitable. If it had just been Haileigh Adams, at right, elected queen, nothing would have been the problem. But when Adams' girlfriend, Rebeca Arellano, won king at a big pep rally on Friday, the bigots started complaining.

Adams and Arellano's peers cheered for the girls at the homecoming dance, and a teacher reportedly told Arellano, "Today school is a bit better because of you girls." Nevertheless, Patrick Henry High School has been subjected to a deluge of hate mail, angry emails, and threatening phone calls since news of the lesbian homecoming couple broke. Some of the calls are coming from people who don't even live in California.

But rather than cower from criticism, as many administrators are wont to do when facing charges of immorality, San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Bill Kowba is digging in his heels and fighting back. In a press conference about his district's budget on Monday, Kowba took a few moments to tell reporters how "furious" he was about the hate directed toward Adams and Arellano, whom he called just as important as the budget. "What is essentially disappointing is that adults who have contacted the school, many not even San Diego residents, are demonstrating such a lack of tolerance and such a negative role model for children with their hateful comments," Kowba said. He later called the naysayers "bullies."

Most polling shows that acceptance of gay marriage increases as respondents' ages decrease, which is why it's no surprise Adams and Arellano's classmates could care less that lesbians are homecoming royalty. But Kowba's unwavering support, both because of his age and his title, is unexpected. Every school kid learns the adage "what is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular," but seldom does an educator get to prove that point.

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

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"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

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