Going All Momma Bear

Kate’s National History Day Project has become the catalyst behind a “strongly written letter” that I sent to her teacher to pass along to those who need to be corrected. Her teacher rocks. All of her teachers do. But the competition on the district level was completely unfair and biased for Kate.mommabear2

Should she have won? Maybe. The other board she was competing against was good, so I don’t want to take anything away from the winner. The fact that she didn’t win isn’t the issue. It was the blatant bias that was used to judge her board that caused Devon and I to stand up for our wonderful middle child.

Kate’s topic was how AIDS affected the Human Rights Movement. She interviewed three people. One was a gay man who was around during the pandemic in the early ’80s. He actually helped start ACT UP! as an advocacy group. The other gentleman was one of the original videographers of the actual Dallas Buyer’s Club that was recently made into a movie. The third person was my friend Kelly Frizzell, who saw first hand the death and discrimination as it unfolded. She helped those dying from AIDS through home hospice care. Kate sought after the Big Guns of the time. Very few students did that.

She also had a plethora of primary sources, besides her interviews. She addressed the theme of the competition and exceeded standards set forth for the project.


This was her project before it was totally finished. The stuff she added on top of what she already had was incredible!

And then the judging occurred last week at Mendive. I will not reveal the names of the two judges who scored her project. But I know them. So does Devon. They are what I would label as “fundamentalist Christians.” Also, as a related side note, their daughter was in the competition. I have NO problem with any of these things.

But I do now.

After finding out the questions they asked during the judging of the project with Kate, I knew she was not judged fairly, and this momma bear isn’t going to let it slide.

The first question one of the judges asked was: “Doesn’t this have more to do with a lifestyle than a human rights issue?”

Go ahead and guess my thoughts on this. “Lifestyle?” ONLY Christians use this term, which insinuates that being gay is a choice and a sin. They were unable to make the connection between AIDS and Human Rights because of their beliefs. Kate didn’t stand a chance.

The other two issues with the judging were simply icing on the cake. “Too many interviews… not enough variety of primary sources.” (Not true. Obviously they didn’t read her annotated bibliography nor looked at the board.) I’m sorry? First hand accounts through interviews are THE top primary source a person can use. She had others, but getting DOCKED for this? B.S. The last and final straw was when they asked: “What does this have to do with today?” Well, they didn’t read the board. (See the picture below.) She got docked on her evaluation because they DIDN’T read the board. Here’s what they wrote on the eval: “She could answer the questions – but information was not included on the board.”

She ended up getting a 24 out of 40. B. Friggin’. S.

Kate knew exactly where they were coming from. She is smart. And sensitive. She took a few of her anonymous peer evaluations in stride, knowing that their comments were coming from immature students who were likely spouting what their parents say at home (example: “Homos deserve to get AIDS!”). What is reprehensible is that two ADULTS showed Kate very clearly that her life, her family, her project, her caring about how AIDS affected the Human Rights Movement… was dismissed and unfairly judged. Kate knew that these two adults were biased from the git go, and that this topic affects her on a personal level.

These judges KNOW that Kate has two gay dads and me, her staunchest ally.

She gets to enter the state competition anyway. We have to pay an entry fee. No big deal. But I will NOT allow to have someone with such an obvious bias be a judge of her board. They can have their beliefs. But they need to check them at the door and be FAIR when judging. Period.

I want those two adults to apologize for marginalizing Kate’s topic. Kate is a great kid with a huge heart and knows injustice when she sees it. She KNEW why they gave her low marks.

I let things slide all the time. I pick my battles. This is one that I am willing to fight.

Love, Momma BearwhyitmatterstodayApril 6, 2014… Update regarding Kate’s project and how it was judged:

We finally received a reply to the email that we sent to the judges regarding their poor and biased judging.

I was wrong on ONE thing. The woman that judged the board. It was not the woman I remember. For that I humbly apologize. But the man who judged the board… I was correct about. However, the woman who DID judge the board was also a teacher and should have judged Kate’s board better… therefore, all of my core objections still stand.

The response was exactly what I thought they would say: “I judged fairly, non-biased and according to the rubric.” He puffed himself up with his professional qualifications and made it seem as though he was a gift to the community for volunteering his time.


As in, his question to Kate, the judges inability to read her friggin’ board and their inability to understand what a primary source is still stands.

I don’t know if we’re even going to respond back. I need to think about if it is worth it. Someone like that male judge will never think he was wrong. But the fact still stands that there is no way his bias didn’t come into play when the first question out of his mouth was: “Isn’t this more of a lifestyle issue than Human Rights issue?”

He shouldn’t have asked that question. Period.

This learning experience is a bunch of stuff. Here are the main things that I think are most important: 1) Don’t be afraid to call someone out when there is injustice and 2) Just because we call someone out does not mean they will change… and most of the time we simply have to accept it. 3) People can be mean and stupid and ignorant and so prideful that they can’t admit they are wrong or their whole world will crumble… which is just too difficult for them to face. We did what we needed to do and we’re letting it go. And it’s okay to do that sometimes.
Hopefully at the state level her NHD project will be judged fairly and thoroughly. If she is meant to win, she will. If not, Kate is going to look back on this time in her life and know that it played an important part in who she becomes… both professionally and personally.
Our lives do NOT suck.
Love, Momma Bear
Further UPDATE:  Read the latest post after this one titled Going All Papa Bear to see our response.  It needed to be done and now the Big Gun, Devon, confronts the judge because his reply was so insulting to Kate and all people who are affected by HIV/AIDS.  Go Papa Bear, go!

6 thoughts on “Going All Momma Bear


    March 28, 2014

    Dear Kate,

    I applaud your thorough and professional approach to your project. Your procedures and use of proper form and protocol makes me think you are an ideal candidate to become a journalist or a research scientist. As you get older please consider a career in either field of endeavor.

    Maintaining your sense of impartiality and sensitivity while being heavily criticised shows me that you are a young lady who has a very grounded sense of reality and incredible personal fortitude. My congratulations to you on your academic efforts and I also congratulate your folks on their excellent parenting skills. Well done to all.


    Brody Levesque
    Washington Bureau Chief
    LGBTQ Nation Magazine * LGBTQNation.com
    Phone: (202) 556 0877
    email: b. levesque@lgbtqnation.com

    • Brody:

      Wow. Just… wow. When Kate gets to my house in a few days, I will have her comment back to you. Thank you so much for your kind, encouraging words.

      Much respect, Emily, Devon, Felipe, Maddie, Kate and Thomas

  2. I want to help. Am I the only person who questions why these two judges woukd be allowed to judge a competition that involved any of their family members. If you would like, I will gladly make a huge spectacle out of this. Kathy Baldock is my girl and I support her all the time, I’d be glad to kick a little ass for you, using my sarcastic wit and my ever annoying letter writing campaigns.

    On a side note, as someone who has lost loved one to AIDS, thank Kate for me for taking this topic head on and making it a matter of importance. i don’t have a fancy title, I’m just a 35 year old gay HIV negative man who believes that this topic needs to be discussed with everyone!!! Kudos to Kate!!

    • Dennis! You made me laugh out loud! I think you and I would get along beautifully.

      Yes, their daughter was in the competition, however, I believe they stayed away from judging any category that had to do with their daughter. Also, it was strictly a volunteer thing, so I don’t want to stray from the issue of their views getting in the way of their board. The two of them volunteered their time, which is more than I can say for myself, no?

      I have addressed the issue with a couple of letters. That’s really all I feel compelled to do. There’s no need for a “recount” so to speak. Kate is competing at the State level anyway and hopefully by raising awareness of the need to coach judges more thoroughly on non-bias and reading all of the material will cause Kate to win on her merits alone. If she wins, GREAT! If she doesn’t win, GREAT! She has learned SOOOOO many lessons through this that it’s all been worth it.

      Thanks for the giggles and the support. Kate comes to my house for the week later this morning and I know she is excited to reply to so many encouraging comments.

      Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,
      Emily Reese

  3. Pingback: Going All Papa Bear | samesides

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