Wednesday, June 21, 2006

In my concerted effort not to become political on this blog *wink* I'm going to address a sort of political question that a very thoughtful commenter posted after my last little diatribe.

"I believe if states allow or acknowledge same-sex marriages, why won't homosexuality be taught as an acceptable norm in the schools?"

I'm a public school teacher, so I have an opinion about this from an educator's standpoint. Keep in mind as well, that I'm in Texas; a very conservative state that is probably decades away from legalizing same sex marriage, and certainly at least that far away from adding homosexuality to the curriculum in our public schools. And it doesn't NEED to be added. In my opinion, schools do not need to be teaching kids about sexuality of any stripe. Not only are there more questions than answers as to how our sexuality develops, we have more than enough curriculum, TESTED curriculum, to teach as it is.

Apart from tested curriculum I believe we have a responsibility to teach young folks how to be safe and healthy in all sorts of situations (including sexual), and we have a responsibility to teach them how to live and treat others (including their PARENTS) with dignity and respect. That should pretty much cover it. Other than that, we need to get them reading, writing, calculating, and learning how to continue to learn and think for themselves.

Homosexuality is a human condition involving real live people. Is it normal? Well, let me say this....knowing all that I know about Tdub, understanding his personality and temperament as I've come to do, and having the beliefs I have about how it came to be, I believe that for him to struggle with attractions to his gender is pretty darn normal. He's not a leper or an alien or an enemy of society. He's just a guy. If Tdub had grown up surrounded by folks in church who found people like him to be a little bit more "normal", he probably could have avoided many mistakes and heartaches to himself and others (like me). If he'd felt comfortable AT ALL sharing his heartache and pain, his inner "demons", well, we just don't know how things may have been different. On the contrary, he felt abnormal, weird, shunned, devalued.....and all because of something he had no real choice about.

I honestly don't know what the real answer is, but I do know that what we've been doing doesn't work for guys like my husband. They become victims both ways in this dilemma. Not that Tdub lives or perceives himself as a victim. He's an overcomer by the grace of God.

While I don't believe homosexuality needs to be taught in school, I believe in teaching students to treat others (including gays) with dignity and respect. Will legalizing same sex unions cause our school curriculums to change? From what I understand, that battle is already going on seperate and apart from the same sex union battle. It's two different issues as far as I'm concerned. I'll also add, briefly, that I do not want my kids recieving religious instruction in public school. I'll take care of that, thank you very much. We do that as it is right now since everything they learn in school doesn't necessarily line up with our religious worldview. We take care of that in our home on a case by case basis.

This is a rambling mess. Sorry. I'm a bit exhausted still from staying up too late watching that PATHETIC Mavericks game last night! augh!!!


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Norm! said...

Grace, as always, thank you for sharing your thoughts. You go a long way in helping me reconsider my negative feelings and stereotypes I have about conservative, Texan Christians.

"... I believe we have a responsibility to teach young folks how to be safe and healthy in all sorts of situations (including sexual), and we have a responsibility to teach them how to live and treat others (including their PARENTS) with dignity and respect. ..."

Can I assume that you do NOT support abstinence only sex ed? I support abstinence -- especially for heterosexual teens, but I think it is wreckless leave out safer sex education as well.

Also, as an educator, what are you thoughts about gay/straight student clubs? In encouraging students to treat each other with respect and dignity, isn't it important for schools to allow student groups for minorities whether they be sexual, racial, or religious?

As for curriculum, how do you differentiate between teaching about a topic versus advocating a particular topic. I have heard some on the Right argue that simply mentioning homosexuality or diversity training is using schools to advocate for the gay agenda. And I have heard some on the Left argue that teaching the Bible or basic morality is the same as proselytizing. What are some of your views?

grace said...

Hey! Thanks for your thoughtful questions. I'm on my way this morning to get a root canal, augh! but I wanted you to know that I'm just going to address all of that in a new post in a few days. I can say, quickly, that while abstinence should be part of a healthy sex curriculum, we are complete idiots if we don't teach safe sex methods to young folks. They're doing it like little rabbits whether we like it or not. I am fighting this very battle in my home now, so I can speak with a bit of "authority" to this issue. Would that all of them would just do exactly what we've taught them, but they don't.

Will post more later.

Thanks again for your questions.

Steve Boese said...

Hey Grace...

More generally, it's not clear to me what is "taught as an acceptable norm in schools".

In a first-grade class which includes one student who wears a yarmulke, at some point the teacher may need to acknowledge the student and respond to other students' curiosity. As I understand it, the teacher is going to help the class understand that Judaism exists, attaching neither approval or disapproval.

A writing assignment which lets students tell a story about their favorite weekend might reveal that a student lives with Dad and spends weekends with Mom. If kids murmur about that being wierd, the teacher's job is not to teach that divorce is an acceptable norm, it is to recognize that divorce exists, and some variety exists among students' families.

It seems to me that homosexuality is likely to come up in similar fashion. The point is not going to be that it is normal or acceptable. It will be that homosexuality exists. It may even come up in a first-grade classroom because a student has a dual-dad or dual-mom family.

Does that make any sense? Schools ought to share age-appropriate info about the existence of Judaism, divorce, and homosexuality, but don't ask kids to celebrate those things.

grace said...

That makes complete and perfect sense to me. :) I was a 1st grade teacher for several years, then 2nd grade. Things like what you are speaking of DO happen (EVEN in Texas). Most teachers I know, including myself, are extremely protective of our students and would fight fiercely to maintain the dignity of a child in any situation regardless of our opinion of that situation. The scenarios you suggested are exactly as it was in my classroom (and is).
More on all that later.

Steve Boese said...


I know there will be differences in opinion about how to achieve this, and varying perceptions of what is a description of what exists versus what communicates approval or acceptance, but I think that is important as a starting point.