Thursday, July 7, 2011

Should LGBT History Be Taught In Public Schools?

The legislature of California has approved a bill which would require LGBT history to be taught in social science curriculum across the state, as well as to not allow for any teaching that would be deemed derogatory to LGBT people. It now goes to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature; and though he has not stated whether he will sign it, he is normally favorable on LGBT issues.

     Naturally, the religious establishment is throwing a fit about the requirements, stating that these new regulations would violate the inviolable rights of the parents and would have religious liberty implications because of the lack of opt-out provisions in the bill. As the Baptist Press quotes pastor Chris Clark,
"The very same ones are pushing this legislation to do exactly that -- to teach that homosexual behavior is normal, that it's acceptable, and that people because of their sexual behavior are somehow heroes in our society," The goal, Clark said, is "to put homosexuality on the same level as a minority status based on race or color or religion."
      Clark is correct about one thing, and that is that it IS the goal to put sexual orientation on the same level as race and color. Why? Because sexual orientation, no matter what the Religious Right says, IS just as immutable as race and gender. Individuals like Pastor Clark can put their head in the sand, whine about "sexual perversity" and the "immorality" of homosexuality, but that does not change the fact that homosexuality is a natural biological variant found in almost every species on earth.

     Clark is also wrong on one very important issue, LGBT people are not being honored because of a certain "sexual behavior", but instead because of the actual legitimate and positive contributions that they made to a civil rights struggle. Martin Luther King Jr., for example, is not honored because he was African-American, but instead because of his contributions to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's, just as Harvey Milk is not honored because he was a gay man, but because he was instrumental in defeating California's Proposition 6 (aka. Briggs Initiative), which would have mandated that the state fire LGBT teachers. The new requirements provide a more diverse look at American culture and society, something that all Americans - regardless of race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation - should be behind. Learning about individuals who are not "like you", allows you to get over objectifying them as "an other" and instead makes them real people, and ones who should be given respect.

So what do you all think? Should LGBT history be taught/mandated in schools? I would be greatly interested in hearing your thoughts. Also, make sure to follow me on twitter @kylejl89 and on facebook

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