Yesterday, I drove over two hours down to Duncan, OK, to talk with Lea and her two sons about how things have changed since we last spoke.
I met them at the casino in town to have dinner before we went to film the follow-up interview you see here. It was one of the most bizarre experiences of my life. I’ve never eaten with such an audience before!
While walking into the casino several people, walking to and from their cars, were staring, pointing and talking about us. Lea turns to me and says “See? This is how it is everywhere I go. I can’t go anywhere without people giving me death glares.” It was making me uncomfortable and I have the comfort of knowing I live over two hours away, so these people don’t know where my house is.
When we first sat down in the restaurant, a table of four women weren’t discreet about their ogling. Two of the women were straight-up turned around in their chairs and leaning in towards us. I could faintly hear one of them ask another “Who is she with? She doesn’t live around here.”
After about five of the most uncomfortable minutes of my life, I turned to the women with a giant smile on my face and waved. They turned around so quickly, I’m surprised they didn’t have to leave immediately to be treated for whiplash. I turned to Lea and said, “If they start staring again, I’m going to go over there and introduce myself.” Lea’s eyes turned the size of saucers. Then she laughed.
There were other folks watching us, but the four women were the most noteworthy. They weren’t at all ashamed of their gawking. Everyone else, at least, had the decency to turn away when they realized we saw them.
One man had his phone pulled out and I looked over as he was trying to take a picture of us. I don’t know whether he managed to snap it or not, but he froze like a deer in headlights the instant I made eye contact with him.
Despite all the awkwardness created by the audience, we had a nice meal. The waitress was wonderful – very friendly and remembered Lea’s family from previous visits. She knew what drinks they normally have. She was all around a delight who made the strange atmosphere much more bearable. She knows who she is, if she is reading this. Thanks for being you.
After we finished our meal, we made our way to the park and shot the interview. You can’t see it in the video, but we drew a little bit of a crowd there, as well. Folks at a few houses across from the park stood on their porches watching. Talking on their phones and pointing. Who knows, a few more pictures were probably snapped then as well. After a bit, the number of cars driving by – slowly- increased a good amount. Quite a few inaudible remarks were yelled in our direction. I saw a couple middle fingers waving. We tried our best to ignore them and go on with what we were there to do. Let Lea show these folks that she isn’t a monster. She is just a mother that loves her kids, like every other mother.She turned the school in because that was the right thing to do. It wasn’t an “attack on religion,” it was standing up for the First Amendment rights of every child in the Duncan Public School system.
Whether they realize it or not, she was helping them. Often times people don’t realize how allowing certain things can hurt them, until it is too late. Many people have said “It’s JUST a Bible. It won’t hurt anyone!” Well, that is how things start. They start small and no one says anything. Then something bigger happens. The next thing you know, things are out of control and kids that don’t want to pray are being forced to run extra laps at football practice. Oh, wait. That is, apparently, already something that happens in Duncan Public Schools, according to Lea’s older son.
This isn’t the first issue with the Duncan School District. Lea had moved her older kids to other districts years ago. The only difference this time is: Lea knew organizations exist to help her! When these things happened before, she didn’t know she could go to anyone for help. She didn’t know she would have any support. That is what these schools in small town America count on. They count on the minority being too intimidated to speak up.
Thank you, Lea. It was a pleasure meeting you and your lovely sons. You have the support of thousands of people. Any time you start to feel defeated by those directly surrounding you, please, remember you aren’t truly alone.
The 13 people who’ve already donated to the GoFundMe I started for you prove that. You cried when I told you the first donation of $20 had hit. I got to hug you while you cried when I told you it had reached $193. I wish I could be there with you now as I report it is currently sitting at $283!
Thank you for your support, everyone who’s donated thus far! It really means more to Lea and her family than you can understand. They are still a LONG way off from the $30,000 goal to help them get out from under their mortgage so they can move, though!
Share! Like! Tweet! Whatever it is you do! Let’s stand behind Lea and show her she is NOT alone!