This is very old news now, but when I found out about it I could hardly resist sharing it with you guys. Frankly I think it's a bit potty - not to mention, as usual, a HUGE overreaction to a basically harmless subculture - but evidently there are people out there who take being anti-Goth very seriously.
Many of us were shocked and indignant when the news ran about Russia's intentions to outlaw Goth fashion and music in schools and government buildings. I find it even more surprising that something similar could happen in the good old US of A.
A youth group in the town of Blue Springs, in Missouri, applied for - and more startlingly, received - a $273,000 grant to 'combat' Goth culture. The grant was secured by the group's leader, Reverend Sam Graves, back in 2002.
The New York Times reported that approximately $118,000 of the money was intended to be used "for therapy, assessment and case management, and the plans also included a series of town meetings to discuss the issue." (Don't you just love being described as an 'issue'?) They added, ""It never happened because referring someone for looking, acting Goth is not a concept that ever got embedded in people's heads,'' project manager Allyce Ford said of the therapy proposal."
Laughably, a large proportion of the grant was returned unused after officials failed to identify what the problem with Goths might actually be. The Examiner said, "Officials concede today they never found much of a "problem" at all associated with the Goth culture, and instead have developed a new understanding and acceptance."
The town hall meetings, by the way, also never took place due to a 'lack of interest' in the community. I suspect that there were a few local Goths who would have been quite 'interested' to have a gentle word with those involved.
Whilst there are parts of this story that are kind of amusing, the fact that a few Goths minding their own business in a relatively small town were considered to be some kind of threat to society, and that people's tendency towards 'Gothness' was deemed to potentially require therapy (exCUSE me?!), are fairly horrendous.
However, interestingly, the focus of the grant changed during the process - rather than being used to "combat" the Goth "problem", the training sessions ended up leaning more towards teaching acceptance. Allyce Ford was quoted as saying, "You have to admit if you saw one, two, three, four or more people dressed in traditional Goth, it would be discerning. Those kids have every right to be there. I hope the lessons you're teaching are tolerance and understanding," and Eric Johnson, the assistant city administrator claimed that dispelling stereotypes about Goths was "part of the goal. If we were able to accomplish that, we are able to accomplish something effective.''