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The Rights in Question

Justin found the Gay Bill of Rights in question and posted it in the comments to the earlier post about the Ensign article. I'm posting it here in case it was missed by anybody:

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Students' Bill of Educational Rights

We, as teachers and staff of [Your High School], believe that society's stigmatization of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender individuals is unjust;
That this largely unchallenged stigma is responsible for an educational environment hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students throughout society;
That such an environment perpetuates homophobic bias;
That we, as teachers and staff, have a responsibility to create a school climate which welcomes and honors, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals just as it should welcome and honor all others.

We, therefore, pledge to support this Bill of Educational Rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender students. We will serve these students in accordance with these principles and actively support their adoption by the [Your School District] as part of our concern for the rights and dignity of all people.

1. The right to fair and factual information about sexual orientation in textbooks and other classroom materials.

2. The right to unbiased information about the historical and continuing contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in all subject areas, including art, literature, science, sports and history.

3. The right to positive role models, both in person and in the curriculum; the right to accurate information about themselves, free of negative judgment, and delivered by trained adults who do not only inform lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, but affirm them.

4. The right to attend schools free of verbal and physical harassment, where education, not survival, is the priority.

5. The right to attend schools where respect and dignity for all students, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, is a standard set by the superintendent of public instruction, supported by the boards of education, and enforced by every principal, teacher and staff member.

6. The right to be included in all support programs that exist to help teenagers deal with the difficulties of adolescence.

7. The right to a heritage free of crippling self-hate and unchallenged discrimination.

8. The right to advocacy through concerned staff and faculty.

9. The right to inclusion in programs, curriculum, activities and teacher training that address issues of cultural diversity.

Based on a document created by the faculty, staff and students of San Leandro High School, San Leandro, California.

It seems benign enough, and indeed I do not find much with which I would disagree in principal. Gay kids have a right to an education free from discrimination and fear. Period. But I can see how such "rights" could easily allow an agressive promotion of homosexuality.

For example, # 3: "the right to positive role models, both in person and in the curriculum; the right to accurate information about themselves, free of negative judgment, and delivered by trained adults who do not only inform lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, but affirm them." It seems that at San Leandro, gay teachers felt it necessary to provide "positive role models" by coming out loud and proud in the classroom, when they should have been teaching math. If I were a school principal, I would have a zero-tolerance policy towards gay-bashing; I would certainly advocate truth in education (namely, that gay people exist, that it is something they are born with, that there are many famous gay people etc.); and would allow my teachers to be honest about their sexual orientation. BUT, I would not allow said teachers to spend class time aggressively promoting their lifestyle. IF that is what Sister Price took issue with, then fair enough. But who knows?

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Blogger HP said ... (February 20, 2005 7:04 PM) 

Here is the problem I have with this sort of document.

1. The right to fair and factual information about sexual orientation in textbooks and other classroom materials.Who knows what this means? What is "fair and factual" for the social conservative is, I'm guessing, far different from a G/SAer's idea of the same. Correct me if I am wrong, but I have a feeling that many of the "facts" associated with hotly disputed. How do you present these sorts of foundational ideas when there is no foundational consensus?

2. The right to unbiased information about the historical and continuing contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in all subject areas, including art, literature, science, sports and history.

3. The right to positive role models, both in person and in the curriculum; the right to accurate information about themselves, free of negative judgment, and delivered by trained adults who do not only inform lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, but affirm them.
I am grouping these together because they address essentially the same point: speculation as to who was gay. Perhaps it is accurate to discuss Oscar Wilde as a "gay role model" in this mode, but I have a feeling that this will be pushed. I have heard arguments that indicate Abe Lincoln, Will Shakespeare, and Hans Christian Anderson were all gay (and Lord Baden-Powell and J. M. Barrie likely pedophiles). In the case of disputed "sexual orientations" like these (especially prior to the development of modern ideas of "homosexuality"), how do you err, on the side of uncertainty (who don't really know with whom any of these people slept), or on the side of affirmation (there is a chance these folks might be gay, and the homosexuals need a self esteem boost, so why not)? Either way, you send a message.

Finally, the issue revolves around how to talk about it in the first place. How do we teach children in an educated way about an ethnic group that has defined itself exclusively along the lines of who it would like to sleep with?

 

Blogger Jake said ... (February 21, 2005 2:37 PM) 

This is one of those areas that would be tough for me to tread... I was a teenager once... I know how hard it is to struggle through and figure out who I belong to. I also know what it is lie to make mistakes. If it weren't for patient adults that helped me through the tough times, I am not sure what would have happened.

While I agree with the the teachers right to refuse to sign a document, I also think it is essential to create an environment for kids to grow a little.

Both in the church, and in the world, it seems that to be a homosexual, or to engage in homosexual activities is a bodge of shame. All the while to have sex outside of marriage is but a minor bump in the road of life... I seem to recall a study of kids at BYU (I may be wrong here), and the lions share of the people were under the impression that it was worse to drink a beer (break the WOW) than it was to have sex outside of wedlock.

Are we doing the same thing with homosexuality? really, when you consider the realities of the sinful act(in regards to sexual sin), it is sinful, period... Somehow, there are many that have elevated it even above those that have been married and cheated on a spouse.

I think that scenario can cover either worldly, or religious attitudes, how do you combat it...?

So in regards to Johns comments:

1. I agree, it seems more of an issue of acceptance and understanding of those feelings, as apposed to where they actually come from. I am not sure you can present objective evidence either way... or maybe that is the creation vs. darwin side of me talking. Either way, those that have those issues should have the same information that we share about "normal" relationships, and we rarely even share that information correctly. We teach more about safe sex, which seems to define the issue, vs. the psychological effects of deciding to give into those feelings, whether homo or hetero-sexual. And heaven help us if we push abstainance. (sp)

2. This is a mute point, and seems that it would only futher divide people, I doubt that it serves any real useful purpose. It certainly doesn;t help in the church, except to fister a feeling of "we won more to our side... come and see". Maybe it would make someone feel better about themselves to know that Nibley's Daughter is a lesbian, but I certainly don't feel better about my religion just because Steve Martin may or may not be a member...

3. I agree...


I am not sure I would have signed either, but I certainly wouldn't have made a magazine article about it... I am not sure the details about the story were objective enough to give us any real instruction... For example, a girl I dated (for a very short time) was insistant that all gay men were predators. I am not sure this article would have done anything more to draw her away form that conclusion.

I was happier when gay meant happy, and pot was something you cooked in.

 

Anonymous Ronan said ... (February 21, 2005 7:25 PM) 

I was happier when gay meant happy, and pot was something you cooked inVery funny!

 

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