One teacher's take on gay rights
After a recent post of mine, Anonymous responded by saying this about public schools:
Children are forced into hearing the pro-teen-sexuality, pro-homosexuality, anti-Christian, anti-America messages espoused by the unions.
I have heard that type of statement before, and in this post I want to address the part about homosexuality. As a teacher, I find this a particularly tough issue to deal with.
First of all, I should make clear that I am convinced that for the great majority of people, being straight or gay is not simply a matter of choice. By an early age, people have a strong predisposition to be one or the other. Whether that happens at birth, or in the early years of one's life, I don't know. But I believe that whether a person is straight or gay is pretty well determined by the time that person is in elementary school.
During my 34 years in the classroom, I have had some kids who struck me as probably being gay. I remember one very nice young man who seemed very feminine in the way he spoke and in his actions. He was a fantastic musician, and as far as I know, he never did anything to bother anybody. Yet, I remember hearing other kids in his class saying things like, "We ought to kill all queers!" Years later, I learned that this young man had "come out" while he was in college. But why should he have had to put up with those cruel comments while he was in high school. Things like this have caused me to have sympathy for people who have homosexual tendencies.
As I've said before, I consider my religious faith central to who I am. I am aware of the biblical arguments against homosexuality, and I take them seriously. But I am not a fundamentalist--I do believe that the writings in the Bible are products of their times. The most important teachings I get from the Bible are concern for the poor and downtrodden (and to me, homosexuals definitely fit in with the downtrodden), and the idea that we should treat people the way we would desire to be treated ourselves.
I am not gay. When I was young, I saw the beautiful young lady who would eventually become my wife, and I was able to woo her without any feelings of guilt. I remember the wonderful and exciting feelings in that process. Let's face it; there are few things as powerful as sexual feelings when you are in your twenties. Who am I to tell someone who has different sexual feelings than I do that they should not be able to go through that same wonderful process that I did in seeking someone that they love?
Look at the results of our our society's oppression of the feelings that homosexuals have. I am painfully familiar with two situations in which great damage has been done. In both of these situations, men denied their homosexual tendencies, and got married to women. In both cases the homosexual tendencies eventually took hold. In one case, the man began an affair with another man, and in the other case, the man--who was at that point a father of three children--was caught in a restroom in a bar with another man and arrested. What if we were more open and we allowed people who were homosexual to act on their feelings? Could anything possibly be worse than the two situations I just described?
Many people say that gays threaten the sanctity of marriage. As one of my former students said in a letter to the editor of our local newspaper after a pastor in town had told his parishioners that a good Christian couldn't vote for a Democrat because they supported gay rights, how can we make that case when nearly fifty percent of marriages in America end up in divorce?
I, personally, believe that civil unions is a reasonable solution to this problem. As you have probably gathered, I have empathy for gays, but I am also very sympathetic to the idea that marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman. If homosexuals want to love each other, live with each other, and be able to visit each other in hospitals, why should the rest of us care?
How do I handle this very controversial issue as a teacher? Believe it or not, I keep my big mouth shut. I allow kids to express their own opinions, and I try to remain as neutral as possible. (And I end up with about a 50-50 split.) When kids use the term "gay" to describe something, or if someone says, "We ought to kill all queers," I jump all over them, but if they want to attack gay rights in the opinion papers that they write, it's fine with me. Their chances of getting an A is every bit as good as those who favor gay rights, as long as they support their positions.
So there you go. That's this public school teacher's position on gay rights. If this one doesn't generate any comments, I'd better quit blogging!