“Heteros Love Homos” That was one of the funnier signs I saw on Market Street about a month ago at the 2011 Pride Parade in San Francisco. There were a few others along the way – Kaiser Permanente’s “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Healthiness” was another. But the “Heteros Love Homos” poster was the most memorable to me because it bridged the raging river between the homosexual community and the heterosexual community, rather than just rehashing the straightforward gay marriage and gay rights slogans. In three short words, that homemade poster fixed to the back of a bicycle had a much more profound impact than the flashy floats with their loud music and flamboyant performers. Don’t get me wrong, I loved those just as much, but sometimes going back to basics wins.
Heteros Love Homos.
Well, kind of.
Recently in California, a huge debate has sparked up over the addition of homosexual history and culture into the state’s public school curriculum (in short, all things gay will be taught in classrooms). LGBT (the common term used to refer to the gay community, LGBT standing for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and the transgendered) history, the contribution of gays to society, all that stuff is to be taught to kids in public schools.
I support gay rights and gay marriage two hundred percent. I believe in the rights for every man and woman to wed – whether it is to a man or a woman is up to the individual in question. Gay marriage should be equal to straight marriage. I spoke out at my church a month or two ago about gay marriage and equality (whether they liked it or not was not of my concern). I’ve always identified with people who struggle and the minorities. Equality among man, in my mind, is a no brainer.
Given that, it’s surprising that I don’t support this legislation. But I have my reasons. It’s not enough just to say flat out that “it won’t work”, though. There is a lot more behind it, and it’s a lot deeper than just my stubborn opposition and cynical criticism of the educational system. For months I’ve been speculating how best to articulate my stance on gay rights and the rise of the LGBT community. I’ve put together a few of my personal ideas and beliefs and one alternative solution to the new legislations. So read on.
This World Is Ending
This world is ending. No, I’m not a follower of some million-year-old ignorant radio talk show host (read: Harold Camping). His ending involves us all being sent to hell while our world breaks apart into a million pieces.
My ending involves a new world forming with new beliefs lead by new people. For years, gays have been cast aside as invalids; second or even third class beings. Two gay partners living together were simply two bachelors sharing the rent on their apartment in Greenwich Village. Two women out for a romantic dinner and a ride around town together on their motorcycle were just two girlfriends out for drinks and a ride – “girlfriends”, of course, meaning two women that just happened to be friends. Marriage between two men and two women was completely unheard of. It was a preposterous idea. Two men can’t get married, that’s ridiculous. Two women? Puh-lease.
In the last ten years, support for gay rights has soared. Men are getting married to men, women to women; they’re adopting kids and starting families. It’s the beginning of the new world. The old world is on the out and will soon be just a paragraph in the past (just like Mr. Camping).
The New Family
While I stood at the barriers on Market Street watching the Pride Parade progress, I took my eyes off of the floats and set them upon a family across the way – a beautiful family. Two fathers and their son. Daddy number-one had dark brown hair and sported a fitted blazer and polished loafers. Daddy number-two sported blond, dressed in a preppy polo shirt and slippers. Father and father stood together, smiles on their faces, every so often glancing at each other. Junior sat on Daddy number-two’s shoulders and posed while Daddy number-one took their picture. Junior rested his little chin on the blond hair of Daddy number-two while smiling down at Daddy number-one.
It’s disappointing to me, shameful even, how gay couples and homosexual families are looked down upon and given weird looks. If you watched the opening sequence of the pilot for ABC’s hit sitcom Modern Family, you saw the reaction of society toward two gay fathers and their adoptive minority daughter.
In a world where unfit, incompetent parents are all too common, I can’t help but feel justified in thinking that two loving, gay parents could raise a child much better than two hateful heterosexual parents could. Given, there are probably many unfit, incompetent gay parents in the world but does that mean all of them are such? And are there not unfit, incompetent straight parents as well?
It doesn’t matter what genders the parents are. “Mom” and “dad”, “mother and father”, no longer refer to the housewife and the breadwinner in the family. Stay-at-home-dads are common in both heterosexual and homosexual families nowadays. This is the new family of the new world.
The New Child, The New Student
Gay students are coming out (no pun intended) of the woodwork. Girls are taking girls to the prom, boys are taking boys. While this is truly great, following right on the heels of the gays are the bullies. I don’t think I need to go into detail on that one.
California’s legislation that LGBT material be integrated into the public school curriculum raises a hundred too many flags in my mind. I see problems with everything from its implementation to the students to whom it will be taught. And that’s not just because I’m a critic of the educational system.
I remember sexual health education (more commonly referred to as “sex ed”) in fifth grade. We had to watch an informative video about what “sex” is, how it happens, and what happens. Boys and girls took turns watching the video. The girls got grossed out; the boys went into hysterics – you know, the expected reaction. And that was over heterosexual sex education. I can’t imagine what would have happened if they had included a homosexual bit about man on man or woman on woman in that video.
Two years later it all happens again in seventh grade. The reaction is somewhat changed. The girls sit through it, (some ignore it and we end up with teenage pregnancy) while the boys, just like two years earlier, go into hysterics. Again, imagine the reaction if homosexual intercourse had been featured in that video.
Homosexual intercourse happens. It’s important that students realize it and learn about it but there should still be some digression used and perhaps it’s best to hold off on that until maturity develops a little more.
Gay and lesbian students get teased enough. California wants to believe that students are mature enough to process it and handle it like adults (I think we all do) but, honestly, is that being realistic? Sure, some will. Some will shrug it off. Cool, gay people have history, culture, and sex, just like the rest of us. But then there are the others. Ask a high school student and they’ll probably tell you that they hear, “What a fag!” and, “You’re so gay!” at least fifty times a day. You can guess whose mouths they’re coming out of – the others.
Students can be mean and cruel. But they’re not the only parties involved. The next question to ask is: can the teachers who are against gay rights put aside their prejudices to teach such a subject? It’s human nature to have prejudices, it’s normal. While I’m driving and some idiot cabby cuts me off, the first thing that comes to my mind is, “Stupid foreigner. Either learn how to drive or go back to wherever the hell you came from!”It’s terrible and I offer my most sincere apologies to anyone I may have just offended. I’ve embarrassed myself more than once having been in a situation in which expressing such a prejudice just isn’t appropriate. Things slip out. When you’re with your friends and you say something inappropriate, you pat them on the shoulder, apologize (hoping that your friendship is strong enough for them to forgive you) and have a good laugh about it later. But what happens if you let something slip in front of a class of kids? What if there is a gay student in the classroom that hears it and gets hurt? What if he or she then goes to the principal about it? The teacher’s job could be at stake.
Not all teachers are bad. I have had some of the greatest. My writing has excelled and is here for you to read because of one of the best teachers I’ve had the privilege of working with. But just like there are the best, there are the worst. A teacher last year, for example, had on occasion opened his mouth and replied “you’re so gay!” in response to a student calling an assignment gay. On a side note, I looked it up and “gay” is not synonymous with “stupid”. If I went and complained to the administration about every politically incorrect or technically defamatory thing a teacher said, I could probably have gotten a number fired.
Humans make mistakes. Some are small, can be smoothed over with a simple apology. Others can get dragged into court and trials can last years. Bringing these new lessons into the classroom without a solid structure as to what will be taught, how it will be taught, and what the backup plan is should something go wrong is going to be a messy ordeal.
Teach the subject matter in a way that’s insensitive or suggestive and there could be major ramifications.
In psychology, I learned about how the autistic are not “retarded” and those who suffer from schizophrenia are not just “insane”. In teaching those issues, however, it’s easier for the teacher to look out into his or her class and determine if there are any such students in the class. While that shouldn’t make a difference in how the material is taught or what remarks are let slide, it does.
With teaching the LGBT material, however, it’s a whole lot harder. Gays are (stereotypically) known to be very flamboyant in the way they dress and the way they act. However, not all homosexuals are like that. Many high school students are still (as they say) “in the closet” and therefore aren’t visibly gay. Some don’t care to sport the flamboyant image. Some aren’t proud of it. Some just don’t know how to communicate it. Others fear alienation.
Alienation is one of the worst things that can happen to students – gays a little more so than straights. It can drive kids to feel worthless, lonely, and in some cases can even drive them to acts of violence upon themselves or others – fighting, drug use, cutting, and in the worst cases, suicide.
The New Holy Alliance
And that brings us to the new holy alliance (no, I’m not talking about the coalition between Russia, Austria, and Prussia). Some may be familiar with the acronym, “GSA”. If you’re not, don’t worry. It’s only become prevalent in the last few years. GSA, for those who don’t know, stands for “Gay-Straight Alliance”. Gay-Straight Alliances, or GSA’s, are often clubs in schools – the math students are a part of the math league, the science students are a part of the science club, more and more gay students are joining gay clubs.
GSA’s often relieve the tension and stress that gay students feel. That old strength in numbers trick is tried and true. When a gay student joins a GSA, they’ve joined a group that consists of people like them. It’s a place where they can feel normal and accepted and free to put aside their insecurities. They’re no longer the weird kid or the freak. It’ll help some come to terms with who they are, it’ll help some get their lives back on track, it’ll help some come out of the closet. Some will even meet someone special.
Everyone wants to identify with something. Woodrow Wilson once said, “Absolute identity with one’s cause is the first and great condition of successful leadership.”
I have no doubt that the new legislations in California have good intentions behind them. They’re put in place to educate everyone about the LGBT community. Their goal is to eradicate prejudices against gays and to try to make the world (read: state of California) a better place. We all want that. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done. Rather than making the institution of LGBT history and culture mandatory in public schools, why not make the institution of a Gay-Straight Alliance mandatory? It would save a lot of time and trouble – and hopefully a lot of hurt feelings and a lot of lives.
I’ve been a student for twelve years. I’ve seen people bullied for standing up for what they believe in. I’ve seen people commit suicide because of it. Some topics are sensitive and must be handled with the utmost care. This is one of them.
Heteros Love Homos. I truly believe that one day we’ll live in a world where “heteros” and “homos” can live side by side in peace. There won’t be controversy over gay marriage or gays in the armed forces or any of the issues we’re wasting our time on today. I look forward to that day. I hope you do too. We have a long way to go, a heck of a long way to go. The result of this new legislation has yet to be seen. Maybe this is what we need. Maybe we’ll look back and realize that integration of LGBT issues into the curriculum was one of the best ideas that the public school system ever had. I don’t know. The future is always uncertain.
All we can do is hope for the best.