One more compelling reason for school choice, private schools, or home schooling
The Columbia Daily Tribune of April 5, 2003 published a disturbing story about a recent day of training for all teachers and staff at Rock Bridge High School (Columbia, Missouri.) The training materials were provided by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, an activist group seeking “to empower educators as partners to ensure every student can fully participate in school life.” The group’s goal is to enlist teachers as “allies” in the fight to stamp out “anti-gay biases.” Rock Bridge has sponsored training of this sort in the past. This time it was more thoroughgoing.
The results? Teaching should not be gender-specific, said Rock Bridge’s guidance director. (Will references to husbands and wives be permitted?) One teacher stressed the importance of “developing school culture.” The principal spoke of “awareness,” echoing the guidance director’s goal of raising “awareness about issues our LGBTQ (see note below) students experience.” The staff adviser to the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance wanted to make “sure the school environment is very sensitive to everybody’s feelings.”
All this is couched in language designed to make the program goals sound reasonable and neutral, even desirable. In our view this is far from the case. Let us not be fooled by vocabulary. “Partners” and “allies” are really activists. “Awareness” and “sensitivity” constitute acceptance of an activist ideology. “An accepting school culture” is one that brooks little or no dissent from the party line. “Training” is indoctrination in a particular ideology. The occasional problem of bullying is understood to be not merely violent or physically threatening behavior, but also subjective attitudes and beliefs that hurt the feelings of the protected group. This redefined bullying is used to justify the special attention and privileges activists wish to accord LGBTQ issues. Progress towards the desired “culture” can rapidly make the “environment” intolerant and oppressive.
School personnel may object that they are just attempting to redress a balance and correct an injustice. The arguments are similar to those in favor of affirmative action in the sense of racial entitlement. Neutrality in issues like these may be desirable, but is all too rarely seen. An unbiased view would find three competing camps. First, the LGBTQ partisans, to whom anything less than complete acceptance, if not approval, is unjust, damaging, and wrong. To some even the word ‘homosexual’ is a hurtful ‘slur.’ In the second camp are those who do not want to be confronted with this issue, particularly given the in-your-face manner of partisans. This camp is unfortunately ignored in our hyper-politicized society.The third camp consists of those who believe that homosexual activity is distasteful, repugnant, immoral, or sinful. A neutral approach would accord equal rights to all three camps. But this would not fit in with Rock Bridge’s adopted ideology. Thus the school cannot favor camp one without marginalizing the others, so that the alleged stigmatizers become the stigmatized.
Let us now try to remove some of the sheep’s clothing from this particular wolf. But first let us make clear now that we advocate frank, open-minded disagreement, but not personal attack. In fact only when dissent – even when it is harsh – is permitted and encouraged is true unity present.
To begin, could we even imagine our schools balancing this “awareness” training with material from a pro-marriage group such as the Family Research Council or an activist like Maggie Gallagher? Would this not distress LGBTQ activists and therefore be “anti-gay?” Homosexual activism and associated leftist movements are rooted in Marxist dogma, which defines society and individual people by race, class, and sex (the latter redefined as “gender.”) It boils down to political correctness in the form of social experimentation and regimentation. We prefer to treat people as individuals, not as members of any kind of group.
We would like to ask a few more questions. Could a teacher or staff member speak out against this “culture” without damaging his career or being subject to bullying behavior from colleagues and administrators? Why is “anti-gay” bias a special problem over and above all other biases, including biases against those who find this ideology and LGBTQ behavior distasteful and repugnant? Why are teachers encouraged (required?) to put LGBTQ stickers on their doors? Is this not insensitive to the majority of students? And where are the parents in all this? Does the school not think they should have a voice? Where does this stop? Given anti-discrimination law we could see situations such as now obtain in Ontario, where Catholic schools are required by force of law to sponsor Gay-Straight Alliance groups.
We would much prefer schools stick to academic subjects and be silent about issues like homosexuality only of interest to very few. Of course many adolescents have problems and say and do things they grow out of in adulthood. But students should not be confronted and forced to declare themselves as LGBTQ or “straight.” In fact to pigeonhole the identity of grownups, much less children, on the basis of a single trait or tendency is wrongheaded.
To summarize so far: Equal treatment and respect in the sense of neutrality in issues like these is possible, though very difficult today. The ideology Rock Bridge and other schools have adopted implicitly accuses nonLGBTQ people of “anti-gay” behavior. If you are not for it, then you are against it. The school’s culture of sensitivity to the feelings of the protected group is necessarily insensitive to those of different feelings and beliefs.
Instead schools should teach the virtues of marriage. Consider these well documented facts:
- Married people live longer
- Married couples are happier
- They are wealthier
Schools should also hammer home the three goals that practically guarantee a person will never be poor or dependent on government welfare:
- Graduate high school
- Get a job
- Do not have children before marriage
None of these subjects involve special privilege or distasteful discussions. We would be very pleased to hear that a public school has done something along these lines.