Homosexuality in Education

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by miss tree, Dec 17, 2009.

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  1. miss tree

    miss tree Rookie

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    I've read a few article recently about the importance of encouraging a tolerant and understanding attitude towards homosexuality in the classroom. I always make a point of fostering this attitude in my students whenever this issue comes up, or they make a negative comment eg. 'that's so gay'.

    I was wondering how other people feel about this issue. Do we need to counter negative attitudes in the classsroom, in the same way we try to combat racism and sexism, or is this an entirely different issue?
     
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  3. Cerek

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    We should always foster an environment of tolerance, understanding and respect in our schools and our classrooms. Regardless of personal or religious views on the subject, children should be taught they can respect another person even if they don't agree with that person's views or lifestyle.

    Negative remarks or attitudes about homosexuality is the same as racism or sexism and should be treated the same way.
     
  4. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    I hate hearing "that's so gay". I counter this and stop my students from using homophobic comments just as I do with racist or sexist commentary. We have several homosexual students in our building, and the torment some of them deal with is completely and totally unacceptable. It bothers me to no end how being racist has become socially wrong, while being homophobic is perfectly okay. Many of my students would never dream of saying the "nig*er", but have no problems with "fag*ot". GRRR.
     
  5. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    I write em up for that's so gay type comments. It ranks with vulgar language.


    I also teach matrix mathematics in my Algrebra classes. I show them the math behind the Enigma codes and modern day codes. I also tell them the story of Allen Turing. The mathematical genius who lead the team that broke the Enigma Code, thereby ending the war in Europe much earlier and saving hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers.

    After the war, he was found guilty of a crime....being gay. He was forced to take drugs to supress his sex drive. The drugs had nasty side effects and he was driven to commit suicide two years later.

    It's rare for me to teach this lesson and have a kid still be disrespectful of homosexuals. I typically get, "I don't agree with him being gay, but it shouldn't be a crime or something you have to die for."
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

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    If anyone feels unsafe coming to school, you can bet that no one really feels quite safe. I'm convinced that hate speech is generally less about hatred of the stigmatized group than it is about a desperate attempt to prove that one should not oneself be stigmatized.
     
  7. Samothrace

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    When I student taught I did a really powerful lesson with my 7th graders about segregation. I included artworks that showed the Sit Ins during the Civil Rights Movement (which were totally amazed b/c they didn't know about this), Male/Female stereotypes and included a contemporary artwork installation from a gay couple...that really zeroed on on this. The artwork shocked some of the kids...but the point of the lesson really got across.

    Like the previous posters, school should be a safe place for kids to learn. If they are worried about the social anxieties there is no way they'll be able to focus. Especially in older students....you are educating not just the information, but the character of those kids.

    My art teacher was awesome about keeping her room a safe place for everyone to go to. She kept her pink triangle by her office door..and coming from a smaller conservative community she often ruffled feathers, but was always there for the kids that needed that extra support.
     
  8. blindteacher

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    I foster tolerance as well. I don't allow the use of terms such as gay and f----t either.
     
  9. KateL

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    I think it's also important to watch that what we say doesn't imply that everyone is heterosexual. For example, I teach some sex ed during middle school science. I have to watch to make sure I don't say something like, "During puberty, people begin to be attracted to people of the opposite sex" because that won't be true for all of my students. I also don't say things like, "When you get married and start trying to have a baby..." because not all of my students will get married and not all of their parents are married. Being understanding of homosexuality (and understanding in general) is more than just stopping the "That's so gay" comments.
     
  10. Soccer Dad

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    If I hear "that's gay," "faggot," "gay," "that's so gay," etc. it AUTOMATICALLY results in an essay about tolerance. Also, I tell my students (when it comes up) that it's passed thru genetics so they, themselves, could easily have a homosexual child. (This always gets me a phone call or two from home...)
     
  11. 4capulina

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    Tough subject.... I work at a private military boarding school and i hear insulting comments about gays all day long. The whole military attitude in general fosters an environment of intolerance toward gays.... its a bummer. I do what i can, but ultimately i can only lead with an attitude of tolerance & empathy.
     
  12. Upsadaisy

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  13. orangepurple

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    I always tell my kids that calling people gay is a form of hate speech, that we don't call names, etc. And sometimes I tell them that one thing that makes me really feel sad working in middle school is hearing the cruel, nasty comments directed against people that I care about, including all of my students.
     
  14. Icare

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  15. Icare

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    Okay it doesn't seem like that link works so I will just post the article.

    ACLU Sues Visalia School District for Failing to Provide Safe Environment for All Students

    Lawsuit Seeks to End Anti-Gay Harassment of Students and Calls for School Reform
    For Immediate Release: January 24, 2001

    The ACLU of Northern California filed an expanded lawsuit today in U.S. District Court on behalf of a former high school student and the Gay Straight Alliance Network in an effort to end the severe harassment and discrimination of students who are gay or lesbian or who are perceived to be gay or lesbian in the Visalia Unified School District (VUSD). The lawsuit charges that students are pervasively harassed because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation by school administrators, teachers, and classmates, who refer to them in school as "faggots," "queers," and "homos." Some students are even physically assaulted by other students based on their sexual orientation. The lawsuit seeks to eliminate the hostile and intolerant climate through reforms that will change the current policies and practices in the Visalia Unified School District.

    George Loomis, a plaintiff and former high school student at Golden West High School in Visalia, had filed a federal complaint against the VUSD on his own behalf last September. By filing its amended complaint today, the ACLU continues to seek monetary damages on behalf of Loomis while calling for school reform on behalf of the Gay Straight Alliance Network and its members.

    "We are filing this lawsuit today because the Visalia Unified School District and its employees are depriving students who are gay or lesbian or perceived to be gay or lesbian of their constitutional rights to equality and due process under the law," said Robert Kim, attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. "When public officials not only ignore pleas for help by gay and lesbian students but in some cases contribute to the harassment that they are experiencing, the result is an unsafe and hostile environment in which learning is all but impossible."

    John Eichhorst, a partner at the law firm of Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin added, "A hostile learning environment harms not only the actual targets of the harassment, but the entire community. The Visalia schools are teaching all students, including heterosexual students, that discrimination is acceptable in our society. No student should have to witness harassment or be forced to learn in an environment in which peers or classmates are taunted, harassed, physically attacked or, in some cases, removed from the school altogether."

    The lawsuit charges that students at VUSD schools are persistently harassed on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation; that students are being harassed by their own teachers and school administrators; that VUSD promotes and fosters a hostile environment for gays and lesbians and those perceived as gay or lesbian; that teachers and administrators routinely ignore student complaints about harassment; and that VUSD counselors, teachers and administrators encourage gay and lesbian students to discontinue their education in favor of "alternative education" or independent study programs that are not designed for these students.

    In addition to making federal constitutional claims, the lawsuit is one of the first to utilize the California Student Safety & Violence Prevention Act of 2000 (AB 537), a measure sponsored by state Senator Sheila Kuehl and passed in 1999, which forbids discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity in any state-funded school in California.

    "As a former student at Golden West High School, I faced unrelenting harassment from my peers and in some instances, from my teachers," said George Loomis, a plaintiff in the case. "In the classrooms and hallways, people spit on me or called me 'fag' or 'homo' and no one did anything to stop it. During my senior year, a teacher repeatedly made statements about 'faggots'-referring to me-in front of the whole class. Everyone laughed at me, and it encouraged other students to call me derogatory names too. When I reported this to the administrators, none of them did anything about it. That is why it is so important that this be stopped; there are too many students who suffer in silence and are deprived of their education simply because of their sexual orientation."

    The Gay Straight Alliance Network (GSA), a plaintiff in the case, is a youth-led nonprofit organization made up of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and heterosexual students and adults who are dedicated to eliminating homophobia and intolerance in California schools. The GSA has over 150 clubs in northern and central California, including an office in Fresno.

    "I think it is critical that this climate of intolerance in the Visalia schools be stopped," said Carolyn Laub, who is Executive Director of GSA. "In surveys that we've conducted in California schools, we have found that 53% of students at public and private high schools surveyed indicated that each day they hear homophobic comments at school. The same survey shows that 84% of students surveyed said that teachers or administrators never or rarely intervene when anti-gay comments are made. How can a student who is gay or lesbian feel safe, much less learn, in such an environment?"

    Members of GSA include Geoffrey Smith, parent of a five-year-old child who will be attending a VUSD elementary school this fall. "As a concerned parent, I can't imagine allowing my daughter to go to school in that type of environment," said Smith. "I ask myself, what kinds of things will she have witnessed by the time she gets to high school? What message will she be getting? Could she be harassed herself? It's totally unacceptable to me. Kids are there to learn, not fend for their safety."

    The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys at the ACLU of Northern California and the law firm of Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin.
     
  16. Teaching_101

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    I disagree with a statement like this. Not because of the viewpoint, but because it takes a theory and presents it as fact. To me this crosses the line of tolerance and changes into proselytization.
     
  17. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I always tell my students that gay means happy so I'm glad they are broadening their vocabulary....and faggot is a group of sticks used for burning.
     
  18. JustMe

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    Consider yourself lucky that you only get a few phone calls...this would get you a trip to the superintendent's office in many districts.
     
  19. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    I agree with the prior posters. Teach tolerance, but the debate of choice v genetics is far from decisive on either side. This is topic that belongs in college and should be a floor for debate instead of conclusion from the teacher.


    For the record, I personally believe it is genetic.
     
  20. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I agree with leaving the cause of homosexuality out of the conversation. Who are any of us to say? The professionals can't even agree on it. My heart just breaks for any of the kids who feel like they don't count because of something beyond their control. Childhood is hard enough as it is.
     
  21. Miss84

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    I agree no one should be abused for their choice, but what I also hate is that when people try to align Homosexuality with Civil Rights/Slavery. Those are TWO major different things that are not even parallel to each other. People need to know their history before trying to make that metaphor; being an AA that really bothers me.
     
  22. Ron6103

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    Well, see, then you get into the argument of whether or not homosexuality is a choice. Are the civil rights and gay rights movements the same? No, I wouldn't argue such, and I don't agree with those that do... they are completely different issues.

    But as to the point of choice, I argue that it is not.... and I argue that from the perspective of a homosexual man. This idiocy from all over the nation about homosexuality being a lifestyle choice needs to stop.

    Believe me, if I had a choice, I would never in my wildest dreams have chosen to live a life in which I would face discrimination and hate speech on an almost daily basis (were I to reveal myself in my community). I did not wake up one morning and decide to give homosexuality a try. The idea that homosexuality was some sort of active choice I made irritates me, and I apologize for the tone of this post, but whenever anyone uses the term "choice" with homosexuality, I get frankly... pissed. It is no more a choice than someone chooses to be heterosexual.
     
  23. Miss84

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    Well I wasn't trying start an argument, my main point that I was trying to make was that the Civil Rights movement and what homosexuals have to go through today are on two ends of the table.
     
  24. fratermus

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    This historian takes issue with almost every word in that post.
     
  25. Miss84

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    Why is that?
     
  26. Teaching_101

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    It's because you used the word "choice." There are certain "talking points" that political perspectives have adopted, and if you use one of these words then the rest of your argument doesn't matter.

    "Change"
    "Maverick"
    "Choice"
    "Reform"
    "The Right"
    The Left"
    .... etc.
     
  27. Missy99

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    To the point.

    Thank you for phrasing this so well.
     
  28. Soccer Dad

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    In response to everyone who questioned my tactics:

    I myself am a Republican and I attend weekly mass. However, there is no denying that there is, to some degree, a LINK between genetics and homosexuality.

    I had a friend in college kill himself because of the ignorance of others. Therefore, I will take ANY method to show that people must learn to respect EVERYONE. And my "you never know, your own child may be gay" ALWAYS works with people. No one wants to think of their future children dealing with the crap today's teens and adults must face everyday.

    I do not mean to sound argumentive, but it's an issue that upsets me to no end.

    So while "don't say that" may work to a degree, it doesn't stop the lack of respect. It just means that they won't say it in front of you.
     
  29. Soccer Dad

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    Also, I will disagree with the civil rights part. Blacks fought for equal rights; and they got it (let's assume all laws are upheld). However, I don't see gay people being allowed to marry? In fact, NY just denied them that right two weeks ago. So how can you sit there and say that there is no connection between Blacks fighting for their rights and homosexuals fighting for their rights? Aren't both groups trying to end discrimination?

    I will say that blacks were fighting for much more, but ultimately, both groups want the respect and fairness that they are entitled to under our Constitution.
     
  30. Miss84

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    I DON'T THINK SO.
    Black people were not represented by the constitution, in fact they weren't even recognized as people. Black people were not allowed to do many things that Homosexuals today can do, besides marry. And really that can't be an argument anymore either, because there are states that allow gays to marry or have a civil union. Gays can vote, can go to any store they choose, can go to the library, again I repeat-THEY CAN VOTE, they can adopt children and their children can go to any school they choose, they can travel to any part of the city day or night, police don't terrorize their neighborhoods or bomb their churches/schools, they can buy a house, they aren't stopped by the police just on the basis they "look gay", they don't have groups of people out to hang their women, men, and children, they don't have anyone trying to strip their ENTIRE culture and identity from them, they are not being captured from their homeland and being shipped over to this country like animals-and the list goes on. So I don't see how you can sit up here and say that there is a common ground here because there really isn't.
    Sorry for my tone, but being a BLACK person myself, I really feel like Homosexuals have no where NEAR struggled as Black people in this country have and are still struggling today.
     
  31. Soccer Dad

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    With all due respect, I did say that blacks were fighting for much more. However, the parallels are there. Both groups of Americans are fighting for equal rights. Granted, blacks were fighting for much more.

    And the Constitution makes no mention of ANY race. It isn't until the amendments that race is mentioned. Therefore, the document is applicable to all--black, white, pink, blue, you name it.

    So we can sit here and argue who struggled more, but the point is, that people are still out there in America being discriminated against and I find it VERY appaling that you can honestly say that there are no parallels between the two struggles.

    Throughout OUR history, groups have fought for their rights. White colonists fought for their rights against Britain. Women beginning with Abigail Adams have fought for their rights. Abolitionist movements including both Black and Whites fought for the abolishment of slavery.

    The fact is that groups have always been discriminated against. And, the way I see it, that makes them share a commonality. Some struggle more than others, but the truth is, all those that are unfortunately discriminated against, share SIMILAR (but CERTAINLY NOT) the same hardships. I will not sit here and say that homosexuals deal with the same hardships enslaved Africans did, but gay teens certainly face the same discrimination African teens do in predominately white schools.
     
  32. Miss84

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    1. I hope that was a typo-Black people come from every corner of the world, although Africa is the motherland where our ancestors came from, we all did not come on a boat straight from Africa. So yes Africans, West Indians, Black Americans, Black Native Americans, Indians-get discriminated on because of their race and from the deep rooted hatred this country has had against people of color from day one.

    2. We can go back and forth, but my point still stands that homosexuals/gay people cannot attribute their struggle to that of a black person/a minority.

    3. The truth is-this country was founded by white people who were only concerned about their own kind-the constitution was written by white people, for the white people-point blank.
     
  33. TeacherShelly

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    For and by white men, really.
     
  34. Soccer Dad

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    I'm not denying that this country has, without doubt, been for white men. However, since the Age of Reform, I think it's become evident that MANY, many Americans have tried to fix the problems this country was founded on. Of course, there still are racists and homophobes...in large numbers.
     
  35. TeacherShelly

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    Slavery is and was abhorrent.

    Strictly speaking of prejudice and discrimination, though, gay people are definitely targets. Most definitely.
     
  36. Soccer Dad

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    That's what I was attempting to get at. I am not to any degree saying certain groups of Americans suffered more than others. I am just saying that we must act to end discrimination against EVERYONE. And, that those that are discriminated againt, unfortunately, share a commonality. That's all, I wasn't, by any means, trying to get racial.
     
  37. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    There is no excuse for anyone making anyone feel bad about themselves for any reason.

    Fat, skinny, tall, short, black, white, yellow, green, homosexual, hetrosexual, smart, "academically challenged", handicapped, non-handicapped-- it doesn't matter. And the kid who gives another kid a hard time about any of it in my hearing will be very sorry.
     
  38. Upsadaisy

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    I was going to close this thread because it seems to have become an argument about who suffers more, and who gets to define the causes of homosexuality. The original topic was about addressing discrimination of gays in the classroom.

    If you have something to add that works for you in your school, or know of innovative treatment of this issue that others might want to know about, then please add your comments.

    Please do not continue the argument about whether or not we should compare racial discrimination with discrimination based on orientation. Thank you.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2009
  39. catnfiddle

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    Thank you, Upsadaisy! I was hoping to see this get back on track. I like everyone on here too much to see us arguing when, in actuality, we agree on so much.
     
  40. Soccer Dad

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    I apologize for being a contributing factor in swaying from the original discussion.
     
  41. JackTrader

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    Let's not go down the road of what I call "the oppression olympics," trying to compare who or what group has faced more discrimination or what.

    I believe that the important thing is to ensure and foster an environment where everyone is treated fairly. PERIOD.
     
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