Wednesday, March 21, 2007

“Disgusting”

I’ve been hanging on to this post for a while; it was something I thought I should let cool first. But the events of today brought it to mind (and I need a post to fill the space until I find more time to get back to the other argument :-)).

A video was produced a while back to familiarize students with the various family situations of their classmates. It has representation of children being raised in adoptive families, by their grandparents, and more, created hoping to make classroom life easier for such children. Of course, you guessed it, the families represented that have everyone upset are the families headed by same-sex couples.

You can view the actual clips of all of the family types here.

In Philadelphia this film was shown to third graders and outrage quickly followed. I think it best to watch the video before you read the articles, for context, but here are two articles on the tumult:

The First Public Hearing
The Second Public Hearing

Some quotes:
“It was the segment on same-sex couples that drew the most ire from parents, who lined up a dozen deep to speak at a microphone - when they weren't shouting out their comments.”

“One woman stood at her seat and yelled, ‘They're 8 years old. They don't need to see homosexual people in the classroom.’”


She “stood” and “yelled” that.

Just today--I just got back--I was invited to our kid’s school (half-day, half-week preschool). I brought our microscope with a monitor and a couple other pieces of lab equipment. I put on a big show for the kids, looking at everything from a flea to bone marrow to their turtle’s lettuce, and they loved it. They didn’t “need” to see me but I can’t imagine the harm I caused that this woman has in mind. And sure, they know I’m a homosexual in that they know R and I are their friend’s parents, just as this video shows, but I’m sure the word “homosexual” means nothing to them (I don’t know my kids have ever heard the word, or “gay” even; it just hasn’t come up). Recently we were there for Dad’s Visitor Day, and before that R went with my mom for Mother’s Visitor Day. It all was wonderful, no one bats an eye, and the school is great about it; in fact, it now never comes to mind when there that it could be a problem… Then I think of people like those in these articles.

Maybe our ease comes because we know all the parents and are involved. We go to all the birthday parties. We did soccer with them all last summer, and that built our relationships and trust (I should say “soccer”, considering the age :-)). We all get along great and not one problem has emerged by our family being so clear to their children, from the classroom to play dates. Maybe we’ve found a paradise of education for our children, but that’s not seemingly what’s out there.

I feel I need to know what damage was done in the minds of such folk, those who would like to keep our families out of the classroom. The harm is done just having our family seen, by just knowing their classmates have a different home? Some possible hints:

“Others called the video ‘adult material’ and said lessons about diversity and tolerance should be taught in the home.”

“Others were less charitable, calling the video ‘disgusting.’”

“‘There was absolutely no necessity to engage third graders in sexuality. That's what you're doing,’ said David Thompson of Medford Lakes. ‘You were wrong... . I firmly believe, that someone had an agenda here.’”


It seems they are imagining something sexual every time they see gay couples. Did they watch the video? I mean, they must have some odd imagination going on, if the mere sight of a gay couple constitutes “adult material” and “sexuality”, right? Don’t they realize some of us are far more prudish than they’ve ever been :-)?

Yeah, though, there is an "agenda" here. Our kids go to school together and they have to interact and learn together. We have to find a way to make that interaction civil, humane, and productive. And all that is important to a school’s central mission of education. We gratefully have that in our little corner of Utah, and such a video is a way to encourage a healthy school environment for those who don’t.

Anyway, on the plus side, I think I did convert some kids to a particular lifestyle today :-). When asked who wants to be a scientist after I was done, most all raised their hands.

One girl, though, kept her hand down. This same girl raised her hand to ask a question while I was talking, and when I acknowledged her she said, “Your miscrocope is wrealwy borwing”.

Whatever, little girl.

That’s not even a question. And at least I can say boring. ;-)

8 comments:

Loyalist (with defects) said...

"We have to find a way to make that interaction civil..."

This is the key to all the issues being raised. Heck, it is key to any communication/public policy discourse.

I really hate quoting Stephen Covey but he did say it first. "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."

MoHoHawaii said...

"Inspiring" ... your post I mean.

Ordinary lives speak the loudest.

My kids who are now in college grew up part of the time in a gay household (as I described here).

I never said the word gay to them, and I certainly didn't talk with them about sex until they reached puberty.

The prejudice will fall away over time. Someday being anti-gay will be as anachronistic as being racist is today.

mark said...

When I think about the amount of time and effort, the amount of careful screening, etc. that my brother and his husband went through in order to qualify to adopt two pre-teen boys (I think the whole process took about two years), I get absolutely livid when confronted by the sort of bigotry and prejudice displayed by the sort of knee-jerk reaction to these videos exemplified by calling the depiction of gay-parented families "digusting". I hazard to guess that there are many straight couples who, if they were required to go through the same type of screening my brother and his partner did to adopt, would never be permitted to have children, either naturally or by adoption.

playasinmar said...

"Always remember that others may hate you but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them.

-R. M. Nixon

-L- said...

Don’t they realize some of us are far more prudish than they’ve ever been :-)?

So, I've been meaning to ask you about this. Well, maybe it's a better conversation to have privately. :-)

I'm glad you affirmed some scientists in the young crowd. But for that minority who have an innate disinterest, we must be tolerant, you know. They were born that way. ;-)

Kengo Biddles said...

I can see why parents are concerned about the topic being brought up; statistically, homosexuality is an abberration from the norm (meaning majority). And before y'all go lambasting me, I'm not saying they were right.

I am saying you're dealing with closed minded people; people afraid of the unknown. People bred to see it as evil, as debauched.

You wonder why they think of sexuality. How many of us have told a straight friend of our same sex that we were gay and had them freak out, thinking that we were coming on to them because we were over-sexed?

I think that's part of it, at least

I'm glad you were able to convert some of them. The world needs more scientists. :)

santorio said...

scot, you and R are real vanguards here. tolerance won't come from reasoned op-ed articles or by pronouncements from political/religious leaders. rather, from people seeing and interacting with gay couples who have the same goals, frustrations, and challenges as they do.

you are to be commended

Scot said...

Loyalist:
I really hate quoting Stephen Covey

Eh, he can’t be all bad :-).

MoHoHawaii
The prejudice will fall away over time.

I’m sure you’re right. Sometimes I have to stop and remember how things would be different for us even a decade ago. They are falling away quickly, on a historical scale.

Mark
When I think about the amount of time and effort, the amount of careful screening, etc…

Ain’t that true. All those tests, from the mental to the physical, not to mention the concerted and extended effort... I know with certainty some people I know couldn’t pass half of them :-).

Playasinmar:
Aw, I don’t hate’em; I’ll take Nixon’s advice. I’ve found anger at people is about as effective as anger at the weather. The main difference being anger at the weather isn’t likely to make the weather worse ;-). I do though get upset, up front, at the apparent threat but it evaporates as quickly as I remember they have there motivations, and often good intentions.

L
So, I've been meaning to ask you about this. Well, maybe it's a better conversation to have privately. :-)

Depending on the question, you may be right :-). I’ll make a clarifying post of what I mean to the extent it seems appropriate.

But for that minority who have an innate disinterest, we must be tolerant, you know.

One of the things that make me feel like we’d make fast friends in the real world, L, is how you pick out the jokes I only tell for my own amusement :-).

Kengo,

I’m not going to baste your lamb. I know we’re a rarity, not seen as in the tribe, and that causes suspicion, fear. Maybe I do get a bit caught off guard by a reaction like the one reported because of our surprisingly easy life. Here. In Utah :-). But, oddly, at the same time I do anticipate it (it’s just different than actually seeing it).

How many of us have told a straight friend of our same sex that we were gay and had them freak out, thinking that we were coming on to them because we were over-sexed?

I remember one friend telling me “I’m fine with that, as long as you don’t hit on me.” I was kind enough, though, to not tell him exactly how funny I found the idea :-). So, yeah, but why? Why does gay = sex? I’ve heard a local talk radio host even go so far as to say gay people should be legally restricted from certain jobs because their mere being is “pornographic,” like we’re some sort of walking playboy mag (but not the “good” kind, like the playboy they keep in their closet, beneath the pile of Hypocrite’s Monthly :-)).

Santorio, thank you, and I think you’re right. I do suspect we get along so well in Utah because we interact with Utahns :-).