Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Education Question

"I don't want my kids taught in school that gay marriage is okay." But as we saw it has nothing to do with marriage. What they are really saying is "I don't want my kids taught that GAYS are okay."

In a society such as ours, lots of people do things that we don't approve of. Roman Catholics don't approve of contraception, divorce, or remarriage after divorce. Observant Jews don't eat pork. Vegetarians won't eat meat. Mormons eschew caffeine. Values are taught in the home, and the only lessons the schools teach is that people are different, and we need to tolerate our differences.

Why is this so difficult? We don't live in a theocracy. Why is the potential fact of gay marriage so much more offensive than the presence of non-Christians, or meat eaters, or the divorced? The fact is we already have to deal with many people with whom we disagree on value judgments. It's completely unclear why "Teh Gay" (TM) are so much more reviled.

The fact is that gay families exist, and their children go to school. Children of straight parents will inevitably meet children of gay parents. To admit that these families exist is not to say you approve (any more than a Catholic "approves" of someone on their third marriage). Yet it is their very existence that is under attack. The infamous case of David Parker in Massachusetts is a case in point. He protested about a book that showed a picture of a gay family--not in any sexual context, mind you, simply a book that showed all sorts of families.

But he wanted his children removed from any situation where they could be "exposed" , even segregated from classmates who had gay parents, lest those classmates contaminate his child by mentioning they have two daddies. It wasn't gay marriage per se. It wasn't any endorsement. It wasn't anything about sex. It was the very fact of the existence of gay families that he objected to. (The group supporting him, MassResistance, has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.. More about the case and their lieshere.)

"I don't want my kids going to a gay wedding!"

Ah, that was one of the great lies of the Prop8 campaign, wasn't it! Yes, a teacher invited anyone in her class who wanted to, to attend her wedding. No one was forced, it was not a school sanctioned event, yet anyone who went had to have a parental permission slip. And some parents didn't send their kids. Indeed, the ugly irony is that the pictures of children at the wedding that were used in the pro-prop8 campaign were children of supportive families who wanted their kids there. Needless to say, the Pro-Prop8 campaign used these photos without permission. So much for parental consent, eh? The ironies abound.

You see, even though the parents who wanted to opt out, did, their problem is that ANYONE was able to go. They want to completely silence anything about gay couples, even for people who approve. It's not about marriage. It's not about their rights as parents. I have come to realize it's about their desire to impose their beliefs on EVERYONE by rendering gay people invisible, and sanctioning discrimination.

But one thing is clear in the aftermath of the Prop 8 decision. They did not eliminate our families. In fact the court held, 7:0 , that gay families must have exactly the same rights as straight families. All the court let them take away from us was the term "marriage".

So the kids will still need to learn about gay couples, in civics class, and from their classmates. The teacher will still invite her class to her wedding to see her "DP'd". And we will still have protections for our families and our children and take our part in the fabric of society.

Because we're still here.

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