Todd snapped the lid back in place and stashed his remaining sugar – “Gotta get some more” he thought – just as the Principal, Mr. Belding, walked into the room.
“The food looks great! If I know the staff they’ll make quick work of it.”
Todd rolled his eyes, looked away, and returned to setting up the chairs.
Mr. Belding moved a chair to the front of the room, and pulled some notes from his bag. There were some changes coming to Faber this year and he wanted to be well-prepared to deliver his remarks.
“Excuse me, I’m sorry but I can’t recall your name?”
“I’m Todd Mr. Belding, Todd Starnes.”
“Oh yes, happy to have you here at Faber, Todd. It’s a wonderful school and fantastic community.”
“It sure was, um… I mean is. I was raised in Faber, over on Maple St, and live there with Mama now. I fondly remember growing up in this town. Sock-hops, parades, ice-cream socials, church picnics on the town square. There was talk of a Sadie Hawkins dance once, but that never really took off. Everybody knew everybody, and everybody knew their place.”
“Yeah, it’s a great town. Say, can you do me a favor when you’re done setting up those chairs?”
“Sure Mr. Belding, I keep a keg of Ranch on ice in the back of my Ram and am happy to share it with the staff. Good thing Ol’ Bessie actually started today.” Todd headed toward the door.
Richard Belding was rarely speechless, but Todd’s response was so bizarre it took several seconds to recover.
“Todd, wait! Thanks for your…offer…but I think we’re fine with the food we have. I actually need your help with something else.”
Todd turned around. “Sure Mr. Belding. What can I do for you?”
Mr. Belding reached into his bag and placed several items on the table.
“One of the things that makes Faber HS such a great place to work is our ‘woke’ school board. They’ve tasked me with making the school more welcoming for our LGBTQIAPK students.”
“LGBTQ… wha..?”Todd stammered.
Mr. Belding chuckled. “Todd, you’ve gotta stay up with the times working here at Faber. LGBTQIAPK stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersexual, Asexual, Pansexual and Polygamous, and Kinkiness. We support students as they explore and identify with any and all of these lifestyles.”
Todd stood in stunned silence, his mood turning darker. How did this conversation switch from Ranch to filth and sin so quickly? He fixed his gaze on the table. A rainbow flag? And what were those signs?
“Starting tomorrow I’d like to you put this rainbow flag up the flagpole, just below the Faber HS flag. It will be the first and most visible welcome sign greeting our students as they return to school next week.”
Todd stood there, slack-jawed and disbelieving.
“And I’d also like you to replace all the ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’ signs outside of our restrooms with these.”
Todd looked down and was horrified.
“You can’t be serious Mr. Belding. Anyone can use any restroom?”
“This is the way of the future Todd. Soon there will be no gender discrimination. In fact starting this year 9th graders will no longer be ‘Freshmen’ since that word isn’t inclusive. They will now be ‘First-years’.”
Now it was Todd’s turn to be speechless. This was definitely the worst situation he’d been placed in yet. Regaining some composure he collected the flag and pile of signs, and headed out the door.
“Thanks Todd, and once again we’re glad to have you at Faber”
“Now I know why Ziggy sent me back home” Todd said, as he shuffled away from the cafeteria.