crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters
One thing is sure about religious right groups. Just mention the word “gay” in any form regarding the schools and watch them bloviate about how children are going to be “indoctrinated into the homosexual lifestyle.” Case in point:
A California senator is proposing a bill that would radically promote the lesbian, “gay,” bisexual and transgender (LGBT) movement in schools and wouldn't allow parents to take their children out of discussions concerning the alternate lifestyles.
State Senator Mark Leno (D) has introduced a measure that would require public school textbooks to be re-written to contain information about the LGBT movement. Under the FAIR (Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful) Education Act, textbooks must highlight key LGBT figures who contributed to the history of the United States and include details about the homosexual movement.
But Penny Harrington, Concerned Women of America's (CWA) legislative director of California, says the bill mandates certain instruction in social sciences and removes safeguards from communities.
“This bill will prompt open discussion in classrooms of all ages about sexual practices, and these are conversations that most parents are going to consider inappropriate,” she notes.
In other words, to merely mention the contributions of lgbts in history automatically means that children will be talking about sexual intercourse and parental guidance is needed.
Of course such notions are ridiculous. Talking about gay figures throughout history doesn't necessarily mean that there will be discussions about sexual intercourse, just like a child from a same sex household reading an essay about a family trip doesn't mean that there will be talk about sexual intercourse.
But the religious right will emphasize this false notion in a cynical attempt to appeal to ignorance and fear. Fox News has already talked about this issue of gay history and has called it as “propaganda” and “blackmail.”
There is a practical reason why talking about lgbts in history is important to the upbringing of lgbt children. According to Media Matters:
The California Safe Schools Coalition surveyed California students and school administrators in 2003, 2004 and 2005 to determine whether curriculum that includes attention to LGBT people “promote[s] safer school climates.” According to their research, “students who report learning about LGBT issues in school… report fewer mean rumors or lies spread about them, fewer reports of being made fun of because of their looks or the way they talk, and less LGBT bullying at school.” The California Safe Schools Coalition also concluded that not only did more LGBT students feel safer at schools with LGBT issues in the curriculum, but “[m]ore straight students report feeling safe if they learned about LGBT issues.” The report concluded:
Finding 1: Individual students feel safer at school when LGBT issues are included in the curriculum; this is true for LGBT students and for their straight peers.
Finding 2: School climates are safer when LGBT issues are part of the curriculum.
Finding 3: Many California school districts already include LGBT issues in the curriculum and many more are interested in doing so. [California Safe Schools Coalition, Safe Schools "LGBT Issues in the Curriculum Promotes School Safety", 2006]
In layman's terms, it's like this – when lgbt children realize that the gay community has made positive influences throughout history, they are more likely to have more self-esteem about themselves. It's pretty much the same reason why there is a Black History Month and a Women's History Month.
Personally I don't see anything wrong with it. We are a people with a rich history and have played a huge role in society which have nothing to do with bathroom encounters or sticky fumblings in open fields in the dead of night. Among our number are such historical giants as Alexander the Great, James Baldwin, Gertrude Stein, Socrates, Michelangelo, Herman Melville, and Bayard Rustin. It's time America stop thinking that being an lgbt is an issue solely about sexual intercourse.
Senator Leno put it best:
“Most textbooks don’t include any historical information about the LGBT movement, which has great significance to both California and U.S. history,” said Senator Leno. “Our collective silence on this issue perpetuates negative stereotypes of LGBT people and leads to increased bullying of young people.” He added, “We can’t simultaneously tell youth that it’s OK to be yourself and live an honest, open life when we aren’t even teaching students about historical LGBT figures or the LGBT equal rights movement.”
Of course you can't tell that to members of the religious right. To push the fact that there is more to being an lgbt than fevered sexual encounters leading to despair, death, and disease puts a huge chink in their argument regarding the supposed “negative effects” of homosexuality.
In their world, lgbts are not people, but sideshow freaks in cages to be pitied and pointed at. Granted, the world of the religious right in no way resembles the real world, but don't count on that little detail to stop them from trying to defeat this needed bill.