Standing up for gay rights in my class
As an English teacher, I teach vocabulary. The word we were discussing last Thursday was "absolutely". The exercise called for the students to fill in a blank in a sentence. The sentence was "I absolutely__________ because______________. One boy, age 12, wrote "I absolutely hate gay people because that is just wrong." He read aloud to the class and it was met with all kinds of snickers and giggles. I stopped them from laughing and said to the boy, "Why?" He answered, "Because it is just gross to see two men kissing." I said, "It may be gross to you, but it isn't to them!" Then everybody got quiet.
I broke out into a tirade. I said that they had a right to dislike someone if they mistreat you. Then I asked, "Has a gay person ever mistreated you?" He said, "I don't know any gay people." I said, "Then how do you know if you hate them or not." I said, "Hating gay people because they are gay, is like hating people who are left handed because they are left handed. Does that make any sense?" He shook his head no.
I said that it was wrong to hate anyone, black, Jewish, Hispanic, Muslim, gay, etc based on that fact alone. It turned into a lesson on tolerance. I told them about a friend of mine (this was my story mixed in with the stories of a lot of gay friends of mine) whom I didn't know was gay, and we became friends, and then one day he said, "I'm gay." and I had a choice to make. I told them I could either turn my back on my friend because he was gay, or I could continue my friendship with him because he was kind, made me laugh, stood up for me, etc. I said that the kind of person he was changed my mind about gay people. I encouraged them to get to know a person before they decide they don't like them.
Then two of my kids said they had an aunt who was a lesbian and an uncle who was gay. They said that their families had a hard time with it, but eventually accepted them and they saw nothing wrong with it, that it was just who they were.
Anyway, the discussion broke up because I had to take the class to PE.
The next day the principal pulled me aside and told me he appreciated the lesson on tolerance but that I needed to keep it on grade level and realize they were 12 years old.
I didn't say this aloud to him, but I thought that these 12 year olds are old enough to hate gay people, they are old enough to hear why it is wrong. I guess some parents complained.... My ultimate thought was, "At least I got an hour of discussion with them about tolerance of gay people." These 12 year olds are allowed to watch R rated movies and play R rated video games, but when we say "gay" all of a sudden they have virgin ears and are "too young" for such discussions. My concern is that some kid may have begun questioning his or her sexuality and if it is hushed up and not talked about they will feel pressured to "act" straight and listen to the jokes and maybe even date the opposite sex, and coming out will be traumatic at best. I want to reverse that trend and let them know if they one day realize they may be gay, they have someone to come to and talk about it.
If everyone cared and nobody cried, if everyone loved and nobody lied, if everyone shared and swallowed their pride, we'd see the day when nobody died. IF EVERYONE CARED/Nickelback
Last edited by pnggrad79; 02-01-2009 at 01:44 PM.
Reason: left out a word that was essential to the meaning of the text