Friday, September 05, 2008

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!

28 Comments:

Anonymous Nicole said...

Thanks. As a teacher I do all the same things myself (granted opinion papers don't really come into play in my math classroom).

As a lesbian, I appreciate the acts every teacher does to ensure the safety of all their students. Just as we wouldn't tolerate racism, we shouldn't be tolerating slurs based on sexual orientation.

Thanks for what you're doing.

9/05/2008 6:35 PM  
Blogger JoeP said...

Dennis -- While I disagree with you politically (Obama post) and little else, I enjoyed reading your take on Gay marriage. As a conservative, I don't see the need for the government to sanction one relationship over another. While this places me at odds with many in my party, I have yet the hear an argument of how allowing Gay marriage lessens my marriage. As a teacher I also agree with how you handle the issue in the classroom, although I have also found myself playing devil's advocate to either side at times to get them to think about their views in more depth.

Thanks for sharing your experiences.

9/05/2008 7:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

> 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.
Yes, that was my comment. I thought I would continue our discussion be replying to this post.

> 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.

(1) What makes you convinced of that?
(2) Even if it is not simply a matter of choice, choice does play a factor, as evidenced by the many who had that predilection but chose to change themselves.

> But I believe that whether a person is straight or gay is pretty well determined by the time that person is in elementary school.

(1) On what is that belief based?
(2) What other characteristics do you believe to be determined so early and to be so unchangeable?
(3) Even if homosexual desires are to some degree innate, does that necessitate them to be good?

> 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.

(1) What process do you use to decide which parts of the Bible to take seriously and which parts to ignore?
(2) Could not one argue that concern for the poor and downtrodden could just as easily be a product of its time? After all, we live in an era of incredible economic mobility.

> the idea that we should treat people the way we would desire to be treated ourselves.

Does the way you want to be treated include being helped in areas of sin?

> 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?

That sounds very noble, but surely not all sexually feelings should be acted on, correct?

> Look at the results of our our society's oppression of the feelings that homosexuals have.

Look at the results of our society’s embrace of homosexual expression. For example, do you think that it is a positive cultural change that people largely shrugged off Madonna’s on-air lesbian kisses?

> What if we were more open and we allowed people who were homosexual to act on their feelings?

What if we were unafraid to help people overcome these feelings?

> Could anything possibly be worse than the two situations I just described?

Yes, a society in which people are primarily governed by feelings instead of morality.

> Many people say that gays threaten the sanctity of marriage.
> how can we make that case when nearly fifty percent of marriages in America end up in divorce?

So, because marriage has been damaged by heterosexuals, we should change its meaning to include homosexuals? How does that follow?

> 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?

(1) We do not need to create a new civil structure to accommodate those things.
(2) You are not talking merely about love; you are talking about society embracing, sanctioning, and supporting an immoral behavior.
(3) Movement in this direction results in attacks on religious freedom. Christian photographers are brought to court for declining to photograph homosexual wedding ceremonies. Christian doctors are sued for declining to artificially inseminate homosexual women. Churches are sued for not welcoming homosexual couples on marriage retreats. Why must they be forced to sanction and embrace this behavior?

> How do I handle this very controversial issue as a teacher? Believe it or not, I keep my big mouth shut.

I wish that were true of more public school teachers.

> When kids use the term "gay" to describe something, or if someone says, "We ought to kill all queers," I jump all over them

As do I, as I discussed in our earlier exchange.

> If this one doesn't generate any comments, I'd better quit blogging!

I hope this suffices. :-)

9/06/2008 7:24 AM  
Anonymous michael mazenko said...

Anonymous asks what parts of the Bible many Christians choose to ignore. Here are a few that might be a good idea. I'm assuming he does as well.

1. Exodus 35:2 says people who work on the Sabbath should be put to death. I'm wondering how many doctors, police officers, firefighters, grocers, and other merchants Anonymous has killed?

2. Exodus 21:7 sanctions selling children into slavery. Has anonymous done this, and should it be endorsed?

3. Leviticus 25:44 allows the purchase of slaves from other countries. Was the Civil War wrong, as well as the Bush administration's current efforts to combat the slave trade?

4. Leviticus 10:10 says eating shellfish is an "abomination." That's the same word used to describe homosexuality. How does Anonymous handle this issue? Is he as aggressive in pushing legislation that denies the rights of shrimp eaters? If not, why not?

5. Leviticus 20:20 forbids approaching the altar of God with a defect in my sight. Because I wear glasses, should I stop taking communion? What should I do if my pastor asks me to do one of the readings on Sunday?

6. How does Anonymous kill his male friends and neighbors who cut their hair, especially around the temples, as forbidden by Leviticus 19:27?

7. If Anonymous knows someone who plants to different crops in the same field, or who wears garments made of two different kinds of thread (say a cotton/poyester blend) does he get the whole town together to stone them to death, as required in Leviticus 19:19? Does he stone everyone who curses as required by Leviticus 24:10? How many public burnings has Anonymous attended for people who sleep with their in-laws, as required in Leviticus 20:14?

Obviously, there is much in the Old Testament that doesn't necessarily work in practice in America in the 21st century, though I'm sure the Taliban might be imposing it Afghanistan and Pakistan. Additionally, it should be noted that Christ never spoke about homosexuality, or at least the writers of the Gospel's never mentioned that he did. Christ focused clearly on the personal relationship with God and with the plight of the poor and downtrodden as Dennis said.

9/06/2008 8:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

> Anonymous asks what parts of the Bible many Christians choose to ignore.
(1) That is not what I asked. Read above. I wrote, "What process do you use to decide which parts of the Bible to take seriously and which parts to ignore?"
(2) For the record, I asked Dennis that question, though you are welcome to answer the question that I actually asked.

> Here are a few that might be a good idea. I'm assuming he does as well.

(1) I would rather you not assume what I believe or not.
(2) I note that all of your citations were from the old covenant. Since you addressed the question from the perspective of a Christian (as opposed to an Orthodox Jew), those citations are largely irrelevant as Christians are under the new covenant.
(3) On the subject of how the old covenant laws apply to Christians, I would recommend you read the discussion of it that is documented in the Book of Acts. You will find that non-Jewish Christians only had to follow three Mosaic regulations, one of which was sexual immorality. For a clarification of what a Jew meant by that, one can cite the old covenant, including Leviticus 18:22: "Do not practice homosexuality."

> though I'm sure the Taliban might be imposing it Afghanistan and Pakistan.

I am disappointed that this discussion would be lowered to comparing people who believe homosexuality to be immoral to the Taliban.

> Additionally, it should be noted that Christ never spoke about homosexuality,
> or at least the writers of the Gospel's never mentioned that he did.

(1) Are you saying that the four Gospels are more authoritative than the other 23 books of the New Testament? On what basis do you make that decision?
(2) That claim is not entirely true. In Revelation 22:15, Jesus showed John that the sexually immoral would be outside the heavenly Jerusalem, and that includes homosexual behavior.

> Christ focused clearly on the personal relationship with God

Yes, He did, and that includes removing yourself from sinful behavior, such as homosexuality.

> and with the plight of the poor and downtrodden as Dennis said.

That concern does not change what I wrote above.

9/06/2008 10:02 AM  
Blogger Mrs. C said...

Mr. Mazenko,

With due respect, to my understanding many of the Old Testament laws were actually made for the Jewish theocracy (the government of Israel) at the time of the occupation of Canaan. Any law today in our society dealing with putting murderers and the like to death really ought to be carried out by our own proper authorities after due process of law, wouldn't you think? The New Testament makes it rather clear we are to submit to governmental authorities because the "powers that be" are instituted by GOD.

And our government today is obviously different, though I suppose any Christian who really wants all that stuff could vote along with everyone else. :]

I will say your point about slavery is well-taken; however, my understanding is that this is more of an indentured servitude sort of a position than what we commonly think of as happening on the slave plantation. God instituted all law for the benefit of the people, and considering what other societies at the time were doing with debtors and captives of war, this is extremely humane treatment.

AND...

Just because something is in the Law doesn't necessarily mean that it's the "ideal" situation. Jesus Himself talked about how God allowed for divorce because of the hardness of mens' hearts. Any theologian will tell you that Scripture ought to interpret Scripture, and we should avoid interposing our own meanings upon the text or twisting it to fit our own agenda. BTW, this would also include the idea some fundamentalists have that a woman's dress must be "so" long and the wearing of the colour red is forbidden, etc. Just to be fair.

Dennis,

I also wonder about the idea of the "state" telling me who I can and cannot marry. The very idea of the state "granting" licenses for marriage is disgusting, the more I think about it. However, that doesn't mean that were I a business owner, that I should *have* to offer benefits to "domestic partners" or whatever you want to call it.

And it sure rankles me to hear states like California pass stuff saying that homosexuality must be taught in public education in a positive light. There's a difference between teaching toleration and indoctrinating a child.

I think in a public education setting, people should be able to express their views reasonably. That would include the idea that the penalty for homosexual acts should be burning at the stake or that sodomy is an acceptable course of action (yuck IMO on both counts). Of course, that's quite different than following a fellow around and saying, "Faggot" or whatever.

It's a rather fine line, though, I'm sure. Teachers are in quite the predicament. Do you remember the young man who was killed by a classmate after wearing flamboyant female clothes and acting out? Now the parents are suing the school because they say the school shouldn't have allowed it. You just can't win.

God bless you, Dennis. We don't always agree, but I really like chatting with you and your bloggie friends. :]

9/06/2008 10:02 AM  
Blogger Mrs. C said...

Oh, hello, anonymous! You must have posted while I was droning on.

9/06/2008 10:06 AM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Nicole and Joep, thanks for chiming in. Mrs. C., you have to be the most agreeable person in the world to disagree with.

Anonymous, you ask what my belief that a person's sexual orientation is pretty well determined by the time they're in elementary school is based on. It's based on observation from 57 years of living and 35 years of working with thousands of young people aged 8-18.

You say that regardless of predisposition, choice is involved. I have a friend who argues that everyone is a certain percentage one way or another. One person might be 70-30 straight, another might be 60-40 gay, and another might be 50-50. So he argues, like you, that there is always a choice. You and my friend probably have a point. I have always been attracted to females, but I suppose I could have chosen to have a homosexual relationship. Had I ever done that, however, I suspect it would have gotten awfully old awfully fast. I'm afraid that's exactly what happens when people who have a predisposition toward homosexuality try to be straight. In fact, I think that's what happened in the two situations I described in my post. What a tragedy that is for someone to fall in love with a person, get married, and then to find out later that person is actually attracted to the same sex.

I think Michael did a great job dealing with the Biblical arguments. This summer I read four books on Jesus that I thought were excellent--one by a Hindu (Deepak Chopra), one by a former fundamentalist, one by a Quaker, and one by a Catholic monk. I've read the Bible daily since I was in my mid-twenties, but I've never tried to memorize lines out of it, so I can't get into a scripture passage quoting contest with anyone. Nevertheless, I do think I've got a pretty good feel for the Bible, especially the New Testament. The major things that I read from that are trying to love my neighbor as myself, concern for the poor and others who are looked down on society, and be very careful about judging other people. You are free to take the positions you do--and I'm really not criticizing you for it. In fact, my priest, who I greatly admire, has similar views on the subject. I just wouldn't be comfortable taking those positions, myself.

9/06/2008 11:11 AM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

By the way, Anonymous, I was hoping you'd respond to this post. You certainly didn't let me down!

9/06/2008 11:14 AM  
Anonymous michael mazenko said...

Anonymous posts an interesting response to my explanation of various parts of the Bible that Christians may choose to ignore. He also asks that I not assume what he believes, but I certainly hope he doesn't believe that people should be executed for working on Sunday, planting two crops in the same field, wearing garments of two fibers, or cursing.

He also points to the old covenant of Orthodox Jews as opposed to the new covenant of Christians. I completely agree, as do many contemporary Christians, noting that the citations from Leviticus about homosexuality are from the Old Testament. Thus, I look to the Gospels, which are the record of Christ's life and teachings, and which do not specifically mention homosexuality. Revelations is not one of the Gospels.

I did not, by the way, compare people who think homosexuality is immoral to the Taliban. I would, however, compare to the Taliban someone who thinks that working on Sunday - or any other act I mentioned - is worthy of execution. It was a rhetorical strategy used to prove a point, and I would think logical rationale people would see it that way.

Christ did speak of removing the self from sinful behavior, I concur. However, the point of this discussion is clearly that Christ never cited homosexuality as sinful. In fact, it was apparently so not important that he never mentioned it at all. He also never mentioned infanticide, though that was a common issue of the day. (That, by the way, is an entirely different discussion). His followers may have mentioned it later, as the recorded in the other books of the New Testament. Yet, the Bible which is the record of Christ's words does not. At some point, I would add, followers of Christ and recorders of his message became fallible. The history of the Christian church clearly shows that. So, I do believe the Gospel's hold some precedence, and I do believe that subsequent Christian leaders have deviated from His message.

Anonymous specifically asked me to answer his original question which is by what process do I decide which parts of the Bible to ignore. Clearly, I use the Christian morality and common humanitarian ethics with which I was raised, not to mention the logical, rationale mind with which I was endowed by the Creator. Understanding the basic requirements of law and order in a civilization, I do my best to follow Christ's message and leave judgment to God.

I do wonder, and it is something that has always intrigued me about the blogosphere, why people who have firm convictions about issues and wish to publicize their views in a public forum, do so anonymously. Perhaps it is wrong of me to ask, and if it was please let me know. I don't wish to insult anyone or compromise the forum, but the situation does intrigue me.

9/06/2008 1:55 PM  
Blogger Quazi Haque said...

Thanks to Dennis for starting this blog. I find it very interesting. I am a 30 yo out gay man, born in a muslim family in Bangladesh, working as an Engineer in Sydney, Australia for the last 5 years.

I am no where near an Islamic scholar, but comparing my knowledge of Islamic teachings with the citation from the old and new convenant, I can easily conclude that Islam is much more liberal and is much closer to the morals and values of the modern human society than Christianity. For example, Islam never said things like: people should be executed for working on Sunday, planting two crops in the same field, wearing garments of two fibers, or cursing. But Muslims generally do not argue with the teachings of the religion like Christians do and they do not have different opinions like different Christian churches.

Yet, it is very interesting that most Islamic nations in the world are a lot less accepting to gay rights.

Hence I want to comment that it is not the influence religion, it is the influence fundamentalism that affects a society's acceptance to gay rights.

Please do not take my comments as an effort of describing one religion superior to another. I really don't care much about religion. My whole point here is: It is not the religion, 'it is the fundamentalism and the resistance to accepting any change from what an individual is taught as a child' that influence his/her vews about gay rights.

9/06/2008 6:16 PM  
Blogger Urban School Teacher said...

I agree that there are times when it seems apparent that a student is probably homosexual, and unfortunately the rest of the class usually figures this out too. Kids can be very cruel towards anyone who is different. I tend to crack down on this, as I do with any offensive comments that I hear in my room and around the school.

As for homosexuality in general, I further agree that it is not necessarily a choice but rather something that is outwith our control. Most people, I assume, would not choose to have a sexual preference which often leads to victimisation, angst and the seemingly dreaded choices of how and when to "come out".

Personally, I am a very relaxed guy who makes no judgements on other people. If two fellas or two women choose to be together and it makes them happy, good luck to them. It doesn't make any difference to me. I have other things to bother myself with and anyone who is ignorant enough to dislike or even persecute homosexual people based soley on their sexual orientation should be ashamed of their ignorance. Religious beliefs, in my opinion, no longer have any bearing on this "issue".

9/07/2008 2:58 AM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Quazi, thanks for sharing your very interesting perspective!

UST, obviously you and I pretty well agree on this subject, but I want explain why I dealt with this so much from a religious perspective.

You are an urban school teacher, but I am a rural one. Religion is very important to a significant portion of our population--many of them fundamentalists, and I know that many of them look at issues like gay rights with that in mind. Many of these people feel like public schools are ramming things down their throats that they think are wrong. Since I teach in a rather small school district that is already losing population, that is a major concern to me.

As I said in my post, I am not a fundamentalist, but I don't want to lose people to whom religion is important from our schools. One thing I've found is that many of the fundamentalists in our community have wonderful kids--kids who are assets to our school. They're well behaved, they do their assignments, they study, and they set a wonderful example for other students. I don't want to lose them. Even though I disagree with their parents on a number of things, I want to show respect for their views and find common ground with them wherever I can.

I just read that paragraph back to myself, and I feel like it comes off as "lecturing." I apologize for that, because that's not my intent, and once again, you and I basically agree on this subject.

9/07/2008 3:34 AM  
Blogger Urban School Teacher said...

Dennis, I can understand that you do not want to isolate parents whose views are different from your own, particularly when their kids are an asset to the school. It becomes even more complicated when their opinions are based soley on religious beliefs, which I assume to be deeply rooted and therefore unwavering. The key to it is finding a suitable balance.

9/07/2008 4:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In reply to michael mazenko:

> He also points to the old covenant of Orthodox Jews as opposed to the new covenant of Christians. I completely agree, as do many contemporary Christians, noting that the citations from Leviticus about homosexuality are from the Old Testament.

There are also sufficient New Testament texts that speak of homosexuality as sinful. In addition to the Revelation verse I cited above, I would start by offering you Romans 1:26-27.

> Thus, I look to the Gospels, which are the record of Christ's life and teachings,

Acts and the Epistles also record Christ’s teachings. Why do you disregard them?

> Christ did speak of removing the self from sinful behavior, I concur. However, the point of this discussion is clearly that Christ never cited homosexuality as sinful. In fact, it was apparently so not important that he never mentioned it at all. He also never mentioned infanticide, though that was a common issue of the day. (That, by the way, is an entirely different discussion). His followers may have mentioned it later, as the recorded in the other books of the New Testament.

You seem to be making my point. The fact that the Gospels record no direct discussion of homosexuality does not mean that Jesus thought homosexuality was ok. The Gospels also record no discussion of incest, yet I would not use that as means of supporting incest. However, Jesus does make quite plain what God meant for human sexuality in Matthew 19:4-6: a man and a woman are to be united as husband and wife. Therefore, any other permutation is against the will of God.

> At some point, I would add, followers of Christ and recorders of his message became fallible.

I am surprised that you find yourself able to state that the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are useful guides, but the writings of Paul, Peter, and James are not. FYI: Many of the epistles are dates as having been penned earlier than the Gospels.

In answer to your question, I am remaining anonymous because who I am does not matter. What matters is the truth.

9/07/2008 5:32 AM  
Blogger Urban School Teacher said...

Anonymous- With all due respect, what do Christianity and the Bible have to do with contemporary schools and the topic of sexuality in today's scociety?

9/07/2008 5:42 AM  
Blogger Mrs. C said...

Wait. I just HAVE to comment again. Who said fundamentalist Christians "dislike" homosexuals? I've seen some real nuts out there who pass for Christians, to be sure.

BUT I *personally* don't "dislike" homosexuals more than I would "dislike" someone with alcoholism or *whatever*. We're only talking about one aspect of a person in this post. People have so many different facets to them... I'd like to focus on the things another person and I would agree on or what I could learn from that person instead whenever possible.

I believe what someone does in their own bedroom has enormous implications for society at large and vote accordingly, but I also think how we treat the outcast and the person with problems has enormous implications as well.

These "homosexual" children in school have the RIGHT to be unharmed and unharassed. At the same time, religious folks should be able to express their views as well. But WOW people need to be respectful of others' opinions on both sides of the issue. And right now, I feel that the scale at ps is tipped in favour of teaching that homosexual acts, birth control in general and premarital sex are "ok" and so I have opted my older children out of that portion of the health curriculum. Schools really shouldn't be teaching this subject at all, though of course I'm sure it comes up anyway. :]

And yes, you read that right, I'm against birth control and premarital sex, too. Somehow nobody seems to fight about that though. (??)

PS. Hey Dennis, I think you have more than a few comments going here! :]

9/07/2008 6:23 AM  
Blogger Urban School Teacher said...

"I believe what someone does in their own bedroom has enormous implications for society at large"

Mrs C, I fail to see the link between personal sexual orientation/activity and the general society. What could these "enormous implications" possibly be?

Also, who do you define as being "the outcast" and "the person with problems" ?

Finally, I appreciate that different people have different opinions on whether or not birth control and pre-marital sex are "ok". However, why does homosexuality need to be linked with these two issues?

9/07/2008 6:39 AM  
Blogger Mrs. C said...

:] Urban School Teacher, I just meant that when one is discussing opinions based on the Bible, that those are mine and a great number of Christians in my personal acquaintance, yet it doesn't seem to be that controversial an issue, is all.

I do think that acceptance of deviate sexual behaviour has implications for the society at large in that it's going to encourage immorality and lead people astray. Of course, if you accept that there is nothing wrong with homosexual acts and that that behaviour is not deviate, you wouldn't have that concern. We can differ on that.

I would be concerned about the situation Dennis outlined about a homosexual student being denigrated and made to feel physically nervous (unless I misunderstood). I would hope that one could care for children like these and protect them without condoning that particular behaviour. And by "the person with problems," I simply meant to throw the ring a bit wider to encompass people who do not fit in or who struggle in a particular area. For example, at least two of my children are autistic and a sensitive teacher would try to include them in group activities while understanding their limitations.

Hope that clarifies and sorry to hog the comment section. I'll log off for now and let the discussion resume. I think the main thing I wanted to convey by my previous comment was the idea that one can disagree with a lifestyle, think it's harmful and wrong, and still not hate the person.

:] Bye for now!

9/07/2008 2:11 PM  
Blogger andbrooke said...

I'm with Dennis here. I believe it's my job to protect students no matter what personal issues or tendencies they have. I would never want a homosexual student to feel unwelcome in my school or classroom. I sympathize with the added burden that must place on their adolescence, especially in communities where homosexuals are shamed.

As far as schools adopting a pro-homosexual, anti-American stance, that is something I do not see. Of course, my view is limited to Utah schools. Where are these sinning schools?

My two cents is this: schools do not instigate societal change, they only reflect it. If anonymous is concerned about the schools in his community, I would direct him to first look at the community. Is the community sympathetic to anti-Americanism and homosexuality? Then it would make sense that the schools would reflect those sentiments. If the community is conservative, I don't see how the school has a prayer of advocating homosexuality. The school could try, but it would not succeed.

So Anonymous, is it your community that's the issue? Or is situation all right at home, but dire elsewhere?

9/07/2008 8:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Response to andbrooke:

> schools do not instigate societal change, they only reflect it.

That is not always the case. I have read stories of many schools to see their purpose to change the thinking of students to what they believe to be the correct views, regardless of the prevailing beliefs of the community.

> If the community is conservative, I don't see how the school has a prayer of advocating homosexuality. The school could try, but it would not succeed.

Again, this is not always the case. I have found many instances where parents have been outraged at some of the material taught to students without their knowledge, particularly in the area of sexuality. Many schools bring in Planned Parenthood to speak to students without notifying parents and this (www.takecaredownthere.org) is the sort of content that PP believes is appropriate for children. (Check out their “I Didn’t Spew” video.)

If you want more specifics, read my comments to Dennis’ earlier post, “Some things our critics don't get.”

9/08/2008 1:56 PM  
Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

I think michael has read The Year of Living Biblically recently.

The point is: given the discrimination and hatred faced by homosexuals, who would CHOOSE to be homosexual?

No, and our students who are gay deserve to be left inpeace and to be loved as much as any other student.

As a student of theology, let me reiterate: NO ONE follows all the precepts of the Bible. Anyone who claims to do so is a hypocrite. Everyone picks and chooses. But those who emphasize the few mentions of homosexuality would do well to pay attention to how many HUNDREDS of times the Bible proscribes denying justice for the poor.

And guess how many times abortion is mentioned?

9/08/2008 7:25 PM  
Blogger andbrooke said...

"I have read stories of many schools ..." But do you know about the schools in question? Where are they and how long did this agenda of change last without support from the community?

"I have found many instances where parents have been outraged ..." Well, what did the community do? If the parents in the community were outraged, I bet that part of the curriculum was dropped quickly.

"Children are forced into hearing the pro-teen-sexuality, pro-homosexuality, anti-Christian, anti-America messages espoused by the unions."

All in all, I think that's a myth.

Anonymous, that's good news for you. Parents in the community really do control what goes on at school.

And I hope they use that control to make schools a safe and welcoming place for everyone.

9/08/2008 9:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>> Response to andbrooke:

Even if the community manages to affect a change in the policy of the school, my point was that the schools were attempting to enact policies that were contrary to the will of the community until they were discovered.

> All in all, I think that's a myth.

I wish it were. In Glendale, AZ, a student was not allowed to make an announcement to the school over the P.A. regarding the Christian club because the announcement contained the word “pray.” In San Jose, CA, a high school blocked the formation of a pro-life club. In Pennsylvania, parents were invited to read stories to the children. When one boy wanted his mom to read a Bible story, she was forbidden to do so, even though a different parent had read a religious story. At a school where I worked, there were two large bulletin boards for the ~100 clubs to post announcements. Each club was allocated space for one sheet of paper. However, next to these two bulletin boards was a third one, equally large, solely dedicated to the Gay Straight Alliance. When I began at that school and wanted to assist the advisor to the Bible Club, I was warned doing so would harm my chances of tenure.

> Parents in the community really do control what goes on at school.

I hope that eventually becomes the case. Unfortunately, I have seen too many public schools trying to undermine parents.

>> Response to "Ms. Cornelius"

> given the discrimination and hatred faced by homosexuals, who would CHOOSE to be homosexual?

Given the well-known health dangers, who would choose to be a smoker? Yet millions do so.

> NO ONE follows all the precepts of the Bible.

(1) No one is supposed to. A follower of Christ is under no obligation to follow the entirety of the laws of the old covenant.
(2) Even if I fail to follow everything I ought to as a believer of the Bible, that does not mean I can disregard the commands of the Bible that I wish were not there.

> But those who emphasize the few mentions of homosexuality would do well to pay attention to how many HUNDREDS of times the Bible proscribes denying justice for the poor.

How does a stand for proper sexual morality preclude me aiding the poor? Why do you assume that my concern in one area means I have insufficient concern in the other?

> And guess how many times abortion is mentioned?

Many. Any time murder is prohibited because that is what abortion is.

9/09/2008 7:03 PM  
Anonymous Ian H. said...

Wow! Good discussion. I saw this post in my feed a bit ago and decided to let my response stew a while before commenting.

I find myself in much the same position as Dennis. While I don't personally condone homosexual behaviour (I'm with anonymous), I attempt to stop any student in my class from denigrating another on the basis of sexual orientation. I think sometimes I probably come off as pro-homosexuality because I will not discuss my personal views on it with students, meaning the only side of it they see from me is my defense of those students.

As to how what people do in their bedrooms has ramifications in the larger society, look to us, your neighbours to the north to see some of the fallout of a national gay-marriage law. Marriage commissioners have been taken to court over their refusal to grant licenses to gay couples (acting on their personal beliefs), even though they pointed the couple in question to another officer who would be happy to help them. The couple in question was intending to cause a stir and did so. Their next target, apparently, is churches who refuse to rent facilities for gay weddings. No longer is the homosexual lobby content to allow society to tolerate them (because tolerance is how the movement began), now they are asking Canadians to acknowledge, support and sanction them and woe betide those who do not.

9/10/2008 9:01 AM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Ian, you have just given me one more reason to believe that civil unions is a good idea.

9/10/2008 3:53 PM  
Blogger Darren said...

I'm curious what you think about the CA Teachers Assn's using a pro-homosexuality argument to oppose a law that would keep sex offenders from teaching.

9/10/2008 7:09 PM  
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