On Being Gay 101
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      In California, Governor Jerry Brown signed a law requiring public schools to teach the historical role and contributions of gays and lesbians. The law prohibits the teaching of any material that is not positive or that reflects adversely on the gay community. Democratic supporters of the bill believe it to be "beneficial to share with students a broad diversity of human experience," and "ensures that the important contributions of Americans from all backgrounds are included in our history books." There already exists laws requiring schools to instruct students in the contributions of women, Black Americans, Asian Americans, American Indians and other minorities. Many Democrats feel it would be a form of censorship not to include any historical accomplishments of gays and lesbians in school Social Studies curricula, and they believe passage of the bill might eliminate some of the bullying of gays that takes place on many school yards across America.
      Opponents of the law were quick to criticize the bill as " out of touch with what are still mainstream American values." Others complained that "That's not the kind of stuff I want my kids learning about in public schools." There are some who believe the law would indoctrinate kids to accept homosexuality and homosexual acts as "natural" and "healthy." They say that "To be tolerant is one thing, but to teach that to be gay is good, that's another thing." Parents aren't going to get excited about their kids finding out that Alexander the Great was a homosexual. They won't view this as a plus, rather just an item on a need to know basis.
      The new law doesn't specify at what grade level to begin the teaching or how to teach it. Hopefully, the local school boards will use good judgment and common sense. As a teacher with 32 years experience in the Los Angeles City School system, I have some reservations about the ruling. First of all, I still believe that local control of a school's staff and subjects taught, taking into account the community's goals for their children, and their financial capacity, is a good philosophy to start with in running a school, even if that approach has pitfalls that we can all imagine. Secondly, I know that students don't have to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, or listen to any religious instruction about God, or in fact participate in any activity in the classroom, if that activity goes against whatever their parents say it goes against. So, to have the Legislature and Governor dictate to a school what to teach, a program not endorsed by the majority of parents affected by the program, there's something wrong with that picture.
     But what's the real reason the law is a bad idea, in most people's minds? It isn't the financing, buying new textbooks, training teachers in "politically correct" ways to describe gay history, or just the Government telling us how to carry on our daily lives again. It's that homosexuality is not an acceptable way of life in the eyes of most Americans, and the historical fact that Alexander the Great or Leonardo da Vinci was a homosexual does not impress most people as to the acceptability of being gay. By far, there are more parents against teachers even insinuating that men and women having sex with their same gender is a normal, or healthy, or natural way of life, than there are those in favor. The belief by most Americans that the gay lifestyle of famous people should be taught in the classroom right alongside the three R's, is a long way off. I wonder if how the Gay Revolution affects America in the long run might even be remembered as much as how the American Revolution shaped our lives, or how the social revolution headed by Martin Luther King changed all levels of our society. Lawmakers need to think this sexual relations revolution through very carefully, and not make hasty decisions or premature changes. When topics related to sex come up in a classroom, students listen carefully and have questions. Are teachers fully prepared to answer these questions, or similar ones, like, "What does gay mean? What do gay people do that non-gay people don't? How do they make love?" And some students will ask these or similar questions just to get attention, and some will really want to know. Will teachers just say the word gay, with no explanation? Will the school administrators just "assume" every single student knows what gay means? Will teachers respond to questions about the gay life, which will definitely come up, by responding, "Ask your parents?" Advertising, or glorifying, historical same-sex relationships of famous people shouldn't be the road America goes down. That's a lot to ask of a teacher. Let's hope that local Boards of Education and school personnel take a serious look at the ramifications of gay education, how it's presented and at what grade level it begins. Would the gay community want instruction to begin in Grade One? And if not, why not? Is a plan of total indoctrination what the backers of the law want? Let's think about that and let's hope the law is not just another political ploy to gain a few more votes come election time.
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