Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Sex-ed discussions in our community

I believe the current discussions about the new sex education curriculum provides this community with enormous opportunities.

There were several problems with the old curriculum. One was the fact that it created a gag rule, and did not allow teachers to talk about homosexuality...unless a student asked a direct question about it. And then, the teacher could only answer in a "perfunctory manner."

If the idea here is education, what is that educating students about homosexuality? If the teacher teaches exclusively about heterosexuals, what does that say to people who are homosexual? It sends an implicit message that there's something so wrong with them that they can't even be discussed. To those who are and those who are not gay, it says that homosexuality is something that must be hidden, as if it's shameful.

Up until I started working on these issues, I never spent a whole lot of time thinking about gay rights. Over the years, I've had several gay friends, and just based on principle I always believed in equal rights—for everyone. But I didn't really know anything about the challenges gay people face. And I didn't begin to have a clue about the level of hatred they have to contend with in this society. And I never saw myself as someone who'd be working to defend gay rights.

The work I've done on supporting the new curriculum has taught me a lot about other peoples' struggles, and other peoples' pain. Knowing what I know now, makes me a better person. I can never again be complacent, and accept attacks on any group of people, and not speak out. It shouldn't be only gay people speaking out for gay people, or black people speaking out for black people. We should speak up for each other.

The curriculum issues have given us opportunities to grow as individuals, and also to come together as a community in unprecedented ways. The people involved with TeachTheFacts.org come from many different parts of our community, and they bring many different skills, talents, and backgrounds to these efforts. There are people from just about every denomination and no denomination; every orientation; and different ethnicities. The age range of our members is probably somewhere between 16 to 70.

We're motivated to support the curriculum for different reasons, but if there's one single focus of our group, it's the conviction that we all deserve to be treated decently, and fairly, as human beings. Whatever peoples' orientations, they are still, first and foremost, people. We can't ever be okay with saying that, for whatever reason, an entire group of people should be treated with any less respect than others.

Nothing good ever comes from dividing up humanity. We need to learn to love more, not less. Once we start down a path of saying that any group of human beings deserves to have less, or be less than others in our society, we're on an awful and slippery slope.

It is not healthy, for our children or our society, to treat any of God's children as lesser beings—that doesn't heal anything. And healing, is what this community needs.