“Where ignorance reigns, life is lost” –Zack de la Rocha, from the song “Township Rebellion” by Rage Against the Machine
There are plenty of people and groups opposed to policies that protect GLBT students, these groups say we’re “pushing a homosexual agenda” in our schools. This sort of language, like many sources of homophobia, is fear-based. Let’s think about what’s being said here. If the homosexual agenda is to make sure GLBT students are just as safe and respected as every other student, then yes that’s an agenda I’m happy to push for. But what groups like PFOX are implying, is that by exposing kids to GLBT issues and ideas, we are “exposing” our kids to something inappropriate. Something bad, “I don’t want my children exposed to that, I don’t want them to think it’s okay”. Perish the thought. Sure, some of these anti-gay sentiments are based on good-old fashioned hate, but if it’s fear-based, we can try to alleviate that fear.
Homophobic people often think that exposure to information about the GLBT community will somehow make a straight person gay or lesbian. Well, if that happens, that person probably was already gay or lesbian, and exposure to the community just encouraged said person to express his/her true self. And maybe that’s what these groups are really afraid of, that learning if students learn about the GLBT community, it will encourage them to express, rather than repress, their true sexual orientation. I could write a term paper about the dangers of psychological repression, but it’s pretty common knowledge that repressing something as major as sexual orientation causes nothing but harm to that person and others. This is why every major mental health institution condemns these so-called conversion “therapies” (we can turn gay people straight!) as not only complete BS, but psychologically damaging and socially irresponsible.
Let’s be clear, students, kids, adults, etc. will not “catch gay”. You have as much of a chance of catching gay as you do cooties. It doesn’t work that way, sexual orientation, for most people, is something one is born with. I didn’t wake up one day and think to myself, “I think I’ll choose to be attracted to women”. Working to protect GLBT students is NOT a recruitment campaign by the GLBT community for new members. Parents often object to their elementary school kids being “exposed” to gay marriage; I say, what is the danger there? Whether you support gay marriage or not, it’s a reality in some states, and it’s going to eventually be completely legal everywhere in this country, cutting your child off from a truth won’t make that truth go away (but that’s a whole other blog/rant). Working in this office (which has like, ya know, gay people), where I’ve learned a lot about the GLBT community since I started, is not going to make me suddenly leave my girlfriend for that good looking dude a few cubicles down from me. Nope, I’m up to my neck in all this gay-stuff and I’m quite certain I’m still straight.
It’s an important for us as advocates to emphasize that we are not running a gay-recruitment campaign, but rather we are working to make sure kids have the correct information, and that GLBT kids are sufficiently protected. When both students AND parents have the correct information, tolerance and acceptance comes through. We want to stop GLBT kids from dropping out because they’re harassed at school and we want to make sure GLBT kids can focus on keeping their grades up rather than avoiding the bully that spouts the f-word in the hallway. The recent string of gay teen suicides, with even more being reported last week, truly shows that where ignorance reigns, life is lost. We’re in the business of combating ignorance.
Thank you for your attention,
David the Intern