Friday, March 13, 2009

Education And The Heterosexual Model

There are 24 hours in each day and often as parents we find that we could use a few more.  Between working full-time jobs, groceries, car pooling and housekeeping often critical lessons that children need to learn are put by the wayside.  We have come to depend on the education system to fill in the blanks. 

Next week Tennessee will be voting on a bill introduced by State Sen DeWayne Bunch and Rep. Stacey Campfield. The  bill will prohibit any instruction that mentions homosexuality in grades k-8.   Bill SB1250/HB0821 will hinder education by presenting heterosexuality as the only legitimate form of social organization.   This is dishonest and it erases the many children that come from homes in which the patriarchal model is not practiced.  They should be able to see their families reflected in all teachings.  Children that grow up in homes where sexual fluidity is not discussed will come to see gays and lesbians as counter to our social norms and associate a form of deviance with a gay or lesbian identity. 

It confounds me that we continue to make the same mistakes in reference to education.  To purposefully withhold knowledge from children is the surest path to a rise in social ignorance.  In the abstinence programs where children do not receive adequate sex education the rates of teen pregnancy have proven to be higher and yet the government is once again seeking to institute a model which will not reflect the fluidity to which we have come to express the various sexualities.

Teaching the heterosexual family will not cause a return to the patriarchal family as the norm.   It will in no way stem the tide of divorce or reduce the rate in unplanned pregnancies.  What it will do is affirm the social marginalization of the gay and lesbian community and confer upon the young the false understanding that heterosexuality is the default sexuality of all.

All public avenues in which children may learn about the spectrum of the human experience have been under attack.  Local libraries are questioned because they choose to have books on the shelves that teach children that families can take many shapes;  we have truly become an Orwellian world.

It has become all the more important for  parents to try and infuse social justice into the conversations that we have with our children.  If we cannot count on our public organizations to teach our children, then must make a conscious effort to ensure that such bigotry is not allowed to become standard.

In a recent conversation with Destruction, my 8 year old son, I used a show celebrating Zigfried and Roy to teach him that the love between two men is not different than the love that his father and I share.  It was a casual conversation in which I invited him to ask questions.  Each day we are offered small teaching opportunities, we simply have to take the time to engage critically and honestly. 

Like any parent, I am often stressed for time and worry about how clean the house is and if the kids are eating healthy enough however, committing myself to teaching through conversation has been worth every moment that I have invested.  My child will grow to be a critical thinker because he has been taught from birth to question.  Schools are so focused on pushing out little automatons and punishing difference that we are in real danger of stagnating as a society.  Conformity has become the law of the land and it is our children and their children that will suffer from our inability to see that the continual reproduction and affirmation of unearned privilege is harmful.

There are some that will see the exclusion of materials that reflect gay and lesbians families as an issue that is only the concern of the GLBT community however, the issue is so much wider than that.   Each of the isms work in tandem with one another and reinforce each other; therefore when someone is intentionally homophobic they are by default supporting racism, sexism, classism, etc,.  To have made the decision to parent is to place hope in humanity and we cannot express this without radically challenging the isms that our children face.  We have an obligation to create a world that is better than what we have inherited from our parents and therefore conversations that encourage children to think critically  are necessary.   If your child's school has taken it upon itself to reinforce a social construction that you know to be damaging, it is your responsibility as a parent to ensure that your child learns the truth.

H/T Queers United


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