A recent article on Focus On the Families CitizenLink blog told the story of a parent in California who is aghast that his children are now going to be taught about the positive impacts that LGBT individuals have made on American society. Considering that the article is titled, “Parent Questions California Law Promoting Gay Agenda”, you would think that Focus was shining a spotlight on some nefarious curriculum that was forcing heterosexual children to do scary “homosexual” things. But no, instead the father – Stan Wasbin – is complaining that schools are now being politicized because the FAIR Act mandates that the positive impacts on history by LGBT people are taught.
In his three page letter to his local school board, Wasbin tries to play down his individual homophobia, asserting that “If someone has made an important contribution — and that person happens to be classified as LGBT — then by all means let’s teach our children about that person, but not because of that person’s sexual-identity group.”. Yet other parts of Wasbin’s letter show his true intentions, as he asserts that the school should not, “further burden our teachers by forcing them to teach LGBT material, a subject that so readily lends itself to propaganda and which can engender sexual confusion.”
The first argument that Wasbin gives is one which can be readily debated. This viewpoint may make sense, as many good people believe that, given the short amount of time dedicated to social science in K-12, the deeds of the individual should be why we study that person in history, rather than their race/sexual orientation/gender. Others, arguing in opposition to such a belief, will argue that not only should our educational system embrace diversity – and teach about the different communities that make up our American fabric – but that teaching about the accomplishments of LGBT individuals is important for LGBT students in those schools, as it gives them much needed role models.
Yet the other arguments that Wasbin gives us, shows that his “concern” about the time necessary to teach this subject is just a smokescreen for his homophobia. He believes that, by teaching about the contributions of LGBT people in society, we will be sliding down the slippery slope to “propaganda” and that such teaching will cause students to be “sexually confused”. He also believes that if we “politicize” education today, tomorrow students could be learning about “gun owners, death penalty proponents, and anti-abortion activists”. Wasbin is engaging in an argumentation style that many of us within the LGBT community are used too. In his arguments about sexual confusion and comparison to gun owners, Wasbin is underhandedly asserting that LGBT people are defined by their actions, rather than their orientation. In claiming that teaching about great historical figures who are LGBT could cause sexual confusion, Wasbin is falling into the fallacy that if someone is pressured enough, they can be “turned" gay. In claiming that we are like gun owners or anti-abortion activists, he is whittling us down to our actions, rather than recognizing that we are real people who have a different sexual orientation than he does.
It is not surprising that Wasbin believes that we are LGBT because of our actions, for that is what people like him have been taught for years. Focus on the Family even, in their “analysis” of this situation, claims that “California has allowed classes to be politicized by adult identity politics like this”. The opponents of equality – like Focus on the Family – HAVE to define us by our actions to continue to engage in their pattern of stigma and hate. If they acknowledge that sexual orientation (whether homosexual or heterosexual) is immutable and inborn, they will have lost the culture war, because Americans are loath to use the law to discriminate against something which one has no control over. That is why bills like California’s FAIR Act are so important and we we need to advocate for similar laws across the country; because instead of treating us as a collection of our actions, such an educational strategy recognizes that we are instead defined by who we are inside. And it is through such education, that we will win our rights.