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A Victim of our Cultural Politics

A reader writes:

I want to tell you about my youngest brother and the struggle he (with my family) is going through right now.

But first, a little background to understand the story: I am one of the older children from a large family. When I was a teenager, and when my youngest brother was still a toddler, my parents adopted several foster children, almost doubling the number of kids in our family. We loved our new siblings, but they came with a lot of challenges.

One of my new adopted brothers, aged about nine, began sexually abusing my youngest brother. It was a while before my parents found out, and as you can imagine it kicked off years of difficulty in our family. My youngest brother was so young, had years of therapy, but has always had a difficult life. He is quiet and shy; has struggled with depression, anxiety, and loneliness; and has generally felt “lost” for much of his life.

About six months ago this brother (now 18) announced that he was leaving our family religion. Fair enough: some of my other siblings have also become atheist/agnostic, so this was not a huge shock, but I think rather than making my youngest brother happier, it only contributed to his feeling of being lost.

I bring up all that background not to necessarily say “this” led to “that,” or to link any two events, just to help you understand the overall situation.

Yesterday afternoon a relative was visiting us and accidentally let slip that my youngest brother has quietly announced to a few people that he is planning to transition to be a woman. We were shocked: nothing has alluded to this, ever.

Apparently it happened like this: a few months ago my brother took an online quiz meant to tell you if you are transgender or not. He took the quiz, and it told him that he was. My brother took this result seriously and found some doctors who are supportive of transgendered people. One of the doctors (an OB-GYN — ah, the irony) encouraged him to immediately start a medical transition, telling him (an 18-year-old!) that “the sooner he begins the better, so make the change more authentic. He has already begun hormone therapy (which is making him sick and causing him to vomit), without tellinganyone, and is preparing a full transition.

I can’t tell you how frustrated I am with these doctors. Rather than urging caution, or a “let’s-see-how-you-feel-in-six-months” approach, they immediately jumped to the obvious conclusion that my brother is really a woman, that aggressive hormone therapy to override his genetics is obviously the right decision. And that he should start now, because if he waits to think about it the hormones may not work as well.

My whole family is at a loss of what to do. Even my secular family members are very worried about him. To us it seems a classic case of a young man struggling to find an identity, something to hold on to, with unscrupulous (biased?) doctors urging him to do something foolish.

But what can we do? If we even bring up our concern we risk being labeled “bigots” who “aren’t supportive” — and we all know that being “not supportive” is basically the same as child abuse. We’re very worried, but the world has shifted underneath us. We can no longer say, “Hey, maybe this isn’t such a great idea. Maybe you’re not a woman, maybe you’re just depressed.” But the doctors are the “experts,” right?

All we can do right now is pray.

What happens when this poor young man finds that his transition has not solved his problem with loneliness, with feeling lost, with the emotional and psychological trauma from childhood sexual abuse? If, God forbid, he should commit suicide — transgender people kill themselves at an unusually high rate — we will all be told that it was the fault of the world of bigots for not being “supportive”.

What a horrible situation. I feel so bad for this family. How can you even begin to fight this tidal wave?

The insanity the overculture demands that we all accept is getting to be too much. In Iowa, the head of a gay rights group is denouncing as “disgusting” [1] a move by parents to keep their kids from being sent back to a so-called “anti-bullying” seminar. Who could object to their kids being taught not to bully gay kids? People who realize from the experience at the last such conference that it’s being used to introduce students to perversion. Here’s a report about what happened at that conference; [2] it’s so sexually explicit that I’m not going to quote it here. You may note that the TV reports about it don’t actually talk about what was allegedly said that has some parents so upset. The only explicit reports about the conference come from local conservative media. Isn’t the mainstream media in Iowa interested in finding out what was actually said at the event?

This is not a new thing, at all. Fifteen years ago, I wrote about the same thing happening in Boston. [3]A couple of parents who tape-recorded the publicly-funded, public “safe schools” event, blew the whistle, as I wrote in the Weekly Standard. Excerpt:

Frustrated by official indifference, Whiteman secretly took his tape recorder along to the 10th annual conference of the Boston chapter of GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, at Tufts University on March 25. GLSEN (pronounced “glisten”) is a national organization whose purpose is to train teachers and students and develop programs to, in the words of its Boston chapter leader, “challenge the anti-gay, hetero-centric culture that still prevails in our schools.”

The state-sanctioned conference, which was open to the public but attended chiefly by students, administrators, and teachers, undercut the official GLSEN line–that their work is aimed only at making schools safer by teaching tolerance and respect.

The event, backed by the state’s largest teachers’ union, included such workshops as “Ask the Transsexuals,” “Early Childhood Educators: How to Decide Whether to Come Out at Work or Not,” “The Struggles and Triumphs of Including Homosexuality in a Middle School Curriculum” (with suggestions for including gay issues when teaching the Holocaust), “From Lesbos to Stonewall: Incorporating Sexuality into a World History Curriculum,” and “Creating a Safe and Inclusive Community in Elementary Schools,” in which the “Rationale for integrating glbt [gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender] issues in the early elementary years will be presented.”

Whiteman sat in on a “youth only, ages 14-21” workshop called “What They Didn’t Tell You About Queer Sex & Sexuality in Health Class.” If “they” didn’t tell you about this stuff, it’s probably because “they” worried they’d be sent to jail.

The raucous session was led by Massachusetts Department of Education employees Margot Abels and Julie Netherland, and Michael Gaucher,an AIDS educator from the Massachusetts public health agency. Gaucher opened the session by asking the teens how they know whether or not they’ve had sex. Someone asked whether oral sex was really sex.

“If that’s not sex, then the number of times I’ve had sex has dramatically decreased, from a mountain to a valley, baby!” squealed Gaucher. He then coaxed a reluctant young participant to talk about which orifices need to be filled for sex to have occurred: “Don’t be shy, honey, you can do it.”

Later, the three adults took written questions from the kids. One inquired about “fisting,” a sex practice in which one inserts his hand and forearm into the rectum of his partner. The helpful and enthusiastic Gaucher demonstrated the proper hand position for this act. Abels described fisting as “an experience of letting somebody into your body that you want to be that close and intimate with,” and praised it for putting one “into an exploratory mode.”

Gaucher urged the teens to consult their “really hip” Gay/Straight Alliance adviser for hints on how to come on to a potential sex partner. The trio went on to explain that lesbians could indeed experience sexual bliss through rubbing their clitorises together, and Gaucher told the kids that male ejaculate is rumored to taste “sweeter if people eat celery.” On and on like this the session went.

Camenker and Whiteman transcribed the tape and wrote a lengthy report for Massachusetts News, a conservative monthly. Then they announced that copies of the recorded sessions would be made available to state legislators and the local media. GLSEN threatened to sue them for violating Massachusetts’ wiretap laws and invading the privacy of the minors present at one workshop.

The tapes went out anyway and became a talk radio sensation. On May 19, state education chief David Driscoll canned Abels and Netherland and terminated Gaucher’s contract. But Driscoll also insisted that the controversial workshop was an aberration that shouldn’t be allowed to derail the entire program. Abels fumed to the press that the education department had known perfectly well what she had been doing for years and hadn’t cared until the tapes had surfaced. Camenker, ironically, agreed.

That same weekend, a day after the Boston Globe editorial page editorialized against Camenker and Whiteman, thousands of New England homosexual youths marched on the Massachusetts State House in a scheduled “pride” rally. David LaFontaine, chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, denounced Camenker and Whiteman: “The hatred we’ve heard on the radio and smeared across the TV in the last week … is the prejudice that simmers beneath the surface [which] has now bubbled up into the open in all of its ugliness.”

The Boston media and legal communities closed ranks against the whistleblowers. They did not deny the content of the conference — indeed, they could not, because the parents had it all on tape. So they barraged the critics with accusations of bigotry and hatred, and attacked the parents for recording the event surreptitiously.

All this happened a decade and a half ago, when the culture overall was far, far less accepting of this so-called “anti-bullying” education. The point is that gay rights activists and their allies often use the worthy cause of anti-bullying to push a far different agenda. I am 100 percent behind anti-bullying initiatives. There should be no quarter given to bullying ANY kids — gay, religious, minority, whatever. But parents need to understand that these events are not always what they claim to be. You don’t need to teach the Catholic Catechism to instruct non-Catholic children not to bully Catholic kids. Nor do you need to teach school children about techniques of gay sex, including oral-anal contact (yes, this reportedly happened in Iowa), to tell them not to mistreat gay kids.

It’s starting much younger too. Here’s a Washington Post op-ed celebrating “the way four-year-olds talk about love and marriage” today [4], written by a nursery school teacher in Chicago. Excerpt:

Of course, there are many resources to help initiate conversations and help frame our students’ thinking. For example, we read And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson. This charming picture book is based on a true story of two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo. A zookeeper provides them with an egg to raise into a chick after he recognizes that they are mates and “in love.”

As I was reading the story, a handful of kids chimed in that they knew two boys who loved each other or two girls who loved each other. Again the conversation turned to marriage. Some kids were insistent that boys could marry boys and girls could marry girls, others were sure that could not happen, and still others listened without sharing their ideas. The country’s debate on gay marriage had reached the 4- and 5-year-olds in my class. The book prompted a conversation about an issue that kids were actively working to understand.

At this point, I felt a twinge of unease about potential parent responses. As I thought later about my nervousness, I realized I have never run into a parent who asked me not to talk about heterosexual marriage with their child. Why not? Heterosexual marriage is an acceptable part of dominant culture and is therefore not considered taboo. So it is seen as nonthreatening. Parents trust that, as a teacher, I can talk about heterosexual marriage without the conversation being dominated by sexuality. Heterosexual marriage is viewed through the lens of love. Same-sex marriage does not feel quite as benign because it is viewed by its opponents through the lens of sex. Gay sex, to be exact, which is perceived as inappropriate subject matter for young children. Based on religious beliefs about the immorality of “homosexual behavior,” there are people who would rather that discussion of gay relationships be omitted entirely from their children’s school experiences.

Some parents say they want to “save sensitive conversations for the home.” Although I can understand a parent’s desire to pass along their ideas and values to their children, the hope that those conversations will happen exclusively in the home is unrealistic.

More:

As this deeply layered conversation moved on, many points of view were stated, more questions were posed, and the children were able to articulate what they thought. I made a mental note to myself about topics to revisit, including finding a way to talk about inherited traits and Jane’s ideas about the dangers of incest. There’s always a new challenge!

Yeah, I bet there is.

At the ridiculous end of things, the mass confusion all of this brings about ends up with this editor’s note appended to an op-ed in the online version of the UCLA Daily Bruin [5] calling on the government to — wait for it — subsidize tampons,, for the sake of fighting “gender inequality.” The editor’s note is priceless:

Editor’s note: This blog post refers to individuals who menstruate as women because the author wanted to highlight gender inequality in health care. We acknowledge that not all individuals who menstruate identify as women and that not all individuals who identify as women menstruate, but feel this generalization is appropriate considering the gendered nature of most health care policies.

That’s funny. On the opposite end, you get the tragedy of the reader’s baby brother, ruining his life at the encouragement of doctors and popular culture.

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71 Comments (Open | Close)

71 Comments To "A Victim of our Cultural Politics"

#1 Comment By Ben H On July 28, 2015 @ 9:22 am

I’d like to know if these online ‘doctors’ prescribing wang removal are:

(1) actual MD’s
(2) guys with another real doctorate who call themselves “DR”
(3) guys with a fake doctorates who call themselves “DR”
(4) touts for some clinic offering these ‘treatments’ with not even fake qualifications

#2 Comment By Ben H On July 28, 2015 @ 9:55 am

“In Iowa, the head of a gay rights group is denouncing as “disgusting” a move by parents to keep their kids from being sent back to a so-called “anti-bullying” seminar.”

Gay activism in schools typically ends up this way, doesn’t it? With explicit material handed to inappropriately young children followed by parent outrage followed by denunciation and cover up. We can deduce a fair amount from these incidents:

– Putting together a conference involves a lot of work and a lot of people working together and yet no one from the gay outfits putting this stuff together was able to effectively communicate the message of ‘look tone it down, this stuff is for kids.’ The lack of an ability to tone things down bespeaks a self-centered juvenility and lack of empathy for others. Reminder that the same groups are demanding access to your sons at boy scout functions.
– These groups have no shame hiding their recruiting efforts behind a cause that sounds objectively good. Related to this first point, there’s no empathy for actual victims of bullying, its all a sham for the true motive which is introducing kids to the explicit material.
– Note the emphasis on the mechanics of the behavior they are trying to encourage as if the subject were assembling Ikea furniture.

This stuff isn’t an aberration run by unrepresentative weirdos. Its a logical extension of the sex- and self-obsession that are norms in gay culture. As this subculture becomes more and more influential we’ll be seeing more of this stuff, so even the dullest to sensibility shaking their heads now will be able to catch on later.

#3 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 28, 2015 @ 10:12 am

J_A, that’s a reasonable engagement, and hopefully we can continue the conversation on that basis. Your use of the word “correct” betrays a bit of hubris, and also calls to mind certain over-worn political cliches, but that’s a side point. I’m seeking to avoid too firm a presentation that there IS a “correct” way to respond to the undoubted existence of homosexuality in the human experience.

It is not known with any degree of certainty that “both hetero and homosexuality, if properly channeled, are perfectly healthy.” It may well be true. Your life experience, and those of many others, may give credence to this assertion. On the other hand, M_Young’s medical statistics are not made up out of thin air, and for all we know, there may be some subtle reasons that the healthiest choice is indeed to remain chaste.

The tricky part is to convey to children that these are all possibilities, and the teacher CANNOT tell you with authority which is True. Each person has to work this out, in conjunction with their family, tradition, religious upbringing, religious choices, study, insights, and convictions. The school cannot provide a firm Answer.

The reason I suggest confidential guidance be available is that, human nature being what it is, there WILL continue to be gossip, insinuation, even bullying, no matter WHAT the school teaches. A vulnerable individual may APPRECIATE the option of confidentiality — as may a young lady feeling peer pressure to engage in heterosexual encounters she doesn’t feel ready for. Those who WISH to “come out” and be public advocates remain free to do so, but it may not be for everyone.

To find that through no choice of your own, you find yourself with powerful physical emotions about persons of your own sex is indeed not a cause for shame. (I have some recollection of my earliest attraction to girls, and I didn’t wish for it, in fact at first I sometimes wished it would go away.)

But, it is a fact that the species is heteronormative. To identify a norm almost inevitably is to accept that there are outliers — there would be no need for the concept of “norm” if there were not a statistically significant deviation from the norm. Its a little harder to be non-normative, and it does individuals no favors to pretend that they can be “just like everyone else.” We can come close. We can maintain social space for them to live their lives. But they will be just a bit different from almost everyone else.

Finally, whether someone “is gay” indeed is quite irrelevant to almost every activity in their life, EXCEPT when it comes to romantic bonds and the social patterns that specifically revolve around them.

#4 Comment By Carlo On July 28, 2015 @ 10:13 am

J_A:

“All children should be taught that most people will, when grown up, be attracted to and form a family with, a person of their opposite sex, but that some will do the same with a person of the same sex.”

Who are you to tell me what MY children should be taught? Your comment is a perfect example of the creeping Fascism implicit in the sexual revolution.

What makes it really exemplary (and very creepy) is the implicy claim to “science,” as if in some way “science” could dictate sexual morality.

#5 Comment By Fran Macadam On July 28, 2015 @ 10:50 am

Pretty soon now there’ll be a movie or tv show chronicling an updated Sodom and Gomorrah, with the positive spin and enlightened audience identification with the beleaguered city inhabitants dealing with the problem of the bigots among them. They’ll be encouraged to celebrate and participate. The righteous anger of the community will fall upon those who threaten the public good by refusing to assimilate.

#6 Comment By Ben H On July 28, 2015 @ 11:10 am

While for obvious reasons there is a lot of focus on conscience rights, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the primary victims of the emerging insanity are vulnerable people like the readers’s brother.

#7 Comment By DRK On July 28, 2015 @ 11:29 am

I am astonished that this 18 year old kid has the financial resources necessary to go to a bunch of doctors and get on very expensive hormone therapy without his parents knowing anything about it. I mean, even insurance requires copays. Didn’t think this condition was even covered under most insurance, especially the hormones, which are very expensive — is he raiding his college fund? This whole story is odd.

#8 Comment By Hyperion On July 28, 2015 @ 1:23 pm

Robert says: In the coming decades, gay sex and gender transitioning will be much less exciting and these kinds of gatherings will become less rather than more frequent.

Here in Seattle the gay pride parade is now tame enough to be an event that (gay) parents take their children to. It’s just not that outrageous anymore.

And I, like some others here, am skeptical of the story this post is based on. Moreover, I have never heard any LGBT person ever express the idea that humans are “born gay”.

#9 Comment By J_A On July 28, 2015 @ 1:54 pm

@ Glaivester

ME: “All children should be taught that most people will, when grown up, be attracted to and form a family with, a person of their opposite sex, but that some will do the same with a person of the same sex. And that no matter which everyone has the same chance to live a healthy, productive and fulfilling life.”

Glaivester: “In other words, people need to be taught that sexual activity with people of the same sex is fine. The only problem, of course, is (a) that teaching that is going to run up against the religious beliefs of a lot of the students, and (b) that the AIDS epidemic suggests that, at least for males, homosexuality does seem to correlate with dangerous sexual behavior.”

For starters, I talked about sexual attraction, and family forming. You substituted that for “sexual activity”. I never said anything about sexual activity, at least outside of a committed monogamous union. I think both hetero and homosexual children should be taught the same things (mutatis mutandi) about proper and safe sexual activity. But if you are going to teach that sexual activity with people of the opposite sex is OK, then yes, you should teach that same sex sexual activity is OK.

On your specific objections:

(a) I don’t know of any major religious group (including the Catholic Church) that says that same sex sexual attraction is against their religious beliefs. Quite the contrary, the position I know of is that the attraction might be disordered, but is not sinful, and the Church has (or should have) a welcoming space for people so attracted. Again. I am talking about attraction, not activity.

(b). It might come as a surprise to you, but AIDS can be transmitted by heterosexual activity. Although Sub Saharan Africa is home to only 15.2 percent of the world’s population, it accounted for an estimated 69 percent of all people living with HIV and 70 percent of all AIDS deaths in 2011. Those numbers do not stem out of Africa being a den of homosexual activity. And lesbian sex is probably the least risky. Hence the need to teach and promote a health and safety awareness attitude towards all kinds of sexual activity.

#10 Comment By J_A On July 28, 2015 @ 2:13 pm

Siarlys

“It is not known with any degree of certainty that “both hetero and homosexuality, if properly channeled, are perfectly healthy.” It may well be true. Your life experience, and those of many others, may give credence to this assertion. On the other hand, M_Young’s medical statistics are not made up out of thin air, and for all we know, there may be some subtle reasons that the healthiest choice is indeed to remain chaste.”

That’s why i said “properly channeled. It might be that “properly channeled” means being chaste, but this is applicable to both hetero and homosexual activity. M_Young statistics notwithstanding, straight sex can also make you very, very sick. Sub Saharan Africa is the best example of that.

Siarlys again:

“The tricky part is to convey to children that these are all possibilities, and the teacher CANNOT tell you with authority which is True”

As you say, all these are possibilities, and NOBODY, neither family nor tradition nor church can tell you what is (capital T, I’m always worried when I see capital letters) True. What we know is that it is possible to have a normal, productive, fulfilling life as a gay person, just as it is possible for a straight person. Are the odds exactly the same? I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter, because living a healthy, productive life is not a matter of random chance, but of commitment and responsibility. Will Tim Cook be more successful if he way straight? Probably. But he is successful enough.

Siarlys again:

“But, it is a fact that the species is heteronormative. To identify a norm almost inevitably is to accept that there are outliers — there would be no need for the concept of “norm” if there were not a statistically significant deviation from the norm. Its a little harder to be non-normative, and it does individuals no favors to pretend that they can be “just like everyone else.” We can come close. We can maintain social space for them to live their lives. But they will be just a bit different from almost everyone else.”

This is true, but not very relevant. Being left handed is an outlive, a deviation from the norm. It is harder to be a left handed person than a right handed person (just ask any southpaw) beacuse our instruments are designed with the right handed in mind. So yes, it will be always more difficult to be LGBT (for starters, straight people do not need to come out as straight), but like southpaws, it should be considered within the normal variation of humans (and sheep, and penguins), without any moral significance.

And btw, left handed people in my parents generation (and some in mine) were forced to use their right hand by quite violent methods, because being a leftie was considered shameful, or distorted, or sick (or worse). Difficult to believe nowadays, isn’t it?

#11 Comment By J_A On July 28, 2015 @ 2:22 pm

Carlo:

“Who are you to tell me what MY children should be taught? Your comment is a perfect example of the creeping Fascism implicit in the sexual revolution.

What makes it really exemplary (and very creepy) is the implicit claim to “science,” as if in some way “science” could dictate sexual morality”

You can teach your children whatever you want, Carlo. You can teach them that they are sick, perverted, a disgrace, an embarrassment. You can kick them out of your house too. You won’t be the first to do all that, and regretfully, you won’t be the last.

But your opinion about what is and what is not moral does not bind anybody else, and definitely it doesn’t bind schools.

And it might not be science, but it is definitely a fact that there are many well adjusted, successful, gay and lesbian people in all fields: politics (including heads of government, city mayors, senator and representatives, etc.), industry captains (the CEO of the largest company in the world among them), the military, medicine, law, sports (one of the USA female soccer world champion team is gay married), etc. I don’t see any problem in telling any gay teenager this particular fact. You might want to hide that fact from your children, but it would be a lie of omission

[NFR: *Your* opinion doesn’t bind schools, Carlo; J_A’s opinion does. Now, concentrate real hard, and convince yourself that liberalism is neutral. [snark off] — RD]

#12 Comment By Erin Manning On July 28, 2015 @ 3:00 pm

Giaivester, I think you have the right take re: “indoctrination.” It is not, and never has been possible for the 2 to 4 percent to cause anybody in the 96 percent permanently and irrevocably to lose their heterosexuality. What is possible is to do three things: first, to insist that all sex is morally equivalent and morally good given only the criterion of consent; second, to tie disapproval of such things as promiscuity, licentiousness, serial relationships, fragile or non-existent family formation and so on to “biogted” and “outdated” beliefs (with the strong implication that these beliefs are religious in nature and that all religious beliefs concerning sex are outdated bigotry); and third, to convince children at the margins that their problems, whatever those might be, can be solved by openness to sexual experimentation and the adoption/embrace of alternative modes of sexuality, especially by “coming out” as gay, lesbian, or transgender, because these things will get them applause and attention.

It is that third that we see at work in Rod’s example from the post: a troubled young man who was victimized at a young age by an adopted sibling is being encouraged to think that the solution to his very real mental and emotional pain is…to become a woman.

That’s one of the reasons I find Moira Greyland’s story so compelling. It’s not that the vast majority of average, ordinary gay people might think the way Marion Zimmer Bradley did–it’s that a significant group of leaders within that community have been thinking and writing like this for decades, with the goal of eradicating society’s heteronormativity as a persistent element of that thought. What, for instance, is Andrew Sullivan’s equation, e.g. religious opposition to gay marriage = “Christianist” = bigotry of a sort that should be equated to radical Islam’s tendency to kill gay people, if not an expression of that very desire to equate all “heteronormativity” with the alleged bigotry of any religious and/or philosophical expression of the idea that there is a basic goodness to the natural family as composed of husband, wife, and their own biological children?

#13 Comment By EB On July 28, 2015 @ 4:52 pm

A quick Google search reveals that there are, in fact, standards of care for people who want to pursue gender reassignment, and they require substantial therapy for those who want to have hormone treatment, much less surgical alteration. Presumably, those who are suffering from mental illness are sorted out from those who are not. I think the sad part is that even if you buy the idea that people can be psychologically more comfortable living as the other gender, which I do, and that this choice can’t be forbidden, which I also do, still the fact is that they can’t make an entire transition: their DNA stays the same, their previous life experience stays the same. It’s as if a man becomes a “woman,” or a woman becomes a “man.” How difficult that must be.

#14 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 28, 2015 @ 6:31 pm

J_A, I’m trying to develop a truly neutral position, or at least as balanced a position as is possible given all the empirics of real life that must be weighed and considered. I’m afraid you are proving the point that “there is no neutrality,” or at least, you insist that for the needle to be resting at zero, your point must be conceded as correct.

I used True with a capital T because many proposals, including yours, assume there is a Truth sufficiently well known to mandate that it be taught to all.

NOBODY, neither family nor tradition nor church can tell you what is (capital T, I’m always worried when I see capital letters) True.

Perhaps nobody can dictate that to you… f’rinstance, Rod was raised Methodist, made an adult decision to become Catholic, and made a later adult decision to become Orthodox, each time believing he had found what was True. But it is entirely possible that there IS an objective teleological Truth to the universe, and it is even possible that any given teaching about it corresponds perfectly to that Truth. This is possible, whether you are taught it or not, and whether you believe it or not.

When you grow up, you are free to reject what your parents taught you, what your church, if any, taught you, but while you are a child, they have a right to teach you. Public schools are much more limited in what they can teach, because they are an arm of the civic state, because they are public.

(Cf. Pierce v. Society of Sisters of the Holy Name of Jesus and Mary — there was also a secular military school that was a plaintiff/respondent in the same case).

We need to be careful about applying one size fits all criteria to each and every person, relationship, and institution, because the legal, ethical, and practical criteria are in fact different.

So, any teaching in the public schools needs to be open to the fact that some parents are taking their children to churches which specifically teach that if you feel homosexual longings, you MUST learn to control them and live a chaste life. The school need not, in fact cannot, teach that this is true or correct or True. But it cannot teach that the parents are wrong to teach that it is True.

What we know is that it is possible to have a normal, productive, fulfilling life as a gay person, just as it is possible for a straight person.

No, we don’t KNOW that. What we do know is that there are some people who believe they have succeeded at doing so, and that is one example that anyone who feels they are gay can consider. Others disagree. And frankly, we have no scientific basis to state what the significance, if any, of homosexuality really is.

I don’t remember what the Bible teaches about left handedness… perhaps it wasn’t noticeable when most people were illiterate. But I have heard that lefties can be great pitchers.

#15 Comment By J_A On July 28, 2015 @ 6:36 pm

[NFR: *Your* opinion doesn’t bind schools, Carlo; J_A’s opinion does. Now, concentrate real hard, and convince yourself that liberalism is neutral. [snark off] — RD]

No,

“His” opinion doesn’t bind schools because it’s an opinion about what is moral and what is immoral.

Absent some other criteria, like harm, our country has agreed that pure morality cannot be used as a base for certain decisions. He is free to teach his morality to his children, but not to mine.

[NFR: You really do believe this? Seriously? It is impossible to make laws without reference to morality. You have concealed this from yourself, apparently, under a veil of liberal neutrality. Liberalism is not neutral, and cannot be. — RD]

#16 Comment By John On July 28, 2015 @ 10:29 pm

“The only problem, of course, is (a) that teaching that is going to run up against the religious beliefs of a lot of students, and (b) that the AIS epidemic suggests that, at least for males, homosexuality does seem to correlate with sexual behavior.”

Point A can be easily addressed by noting and continually reinforcing the fact that each student, as an individual living in a free state, ultimately gets to decide what is right and what is wrong and act accordingly, providing they do not violate the rights of others. nothingvwhich is taught, it could be explained, is designed to undermine one’s right to religioys belief and in fact the teachings actually strengthen that claim by acknowledging that people from different backgrounds will come to different conclusions on what is or is not expected from them.

In any event, the mere fact that science may undermine a religious-based claim is not enough to forbid the teaching of the subject. Sex-Ed may offend the student who believes in abstinence until marriage and Evolution may offend the student who believes in creationism. Nevertheless these subjects are taught in a public setting.

Point b only bolsters the case for including some talk about safer-sex practices, whether it is done as a component (maybe 3-4 days) of a comprehensive general safe-sex course which all must take of the general curriculum, as an elective, or on the side in the guidance counselor’s office or in a supervised gay-straight alliance meeting).

There is no reason why, for that matter, schools should act indifferently toward promiscuity of any kind, and if the lesson plans encourage monogamy and abstinence until marriage (a reality now available to gay couples) all the better.

J_A

I largely agree with you about the position schools should adopt. gay students and parents will decide how they should deal with homosexuality. Public schools, however, should treat ihomosexuslity as a fact of life.
Since most people are straight I have no problem with a lesson that predominantly teaches people from the perspective of opposite-sex relationships as long as there is some time devoted to those who may, because they are fat or bisexual, enter into same-sex relationships. Most of the diseases apply to all.
Maybe at some point, when the stigma is gone, sex Ed classes can be segregated by sex and sexual orientation so that we can all learn about what most applies to us.

But until we reach that point the schools must offer some way of educating the gays and lesbian students about the safer sex practices that apply to them.

#17 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 28, 2015 @ 11:06 pm

He is free to teach his morality to his children, but not to mine.

True. And by the same token, you cannot use the public schools as a mechanism for teachng Carlo’s children that the morality he teaches them is wrong. It is possible that the public school can teach Carlo’s children that you believe what you believe, and teach your children that Carlo believes what Carlo believes.

While I almost always disagree with the sophistry “there is no neutrality” (Stalin was a great advocate for that notion), Rod is correct that any law makes a value judgment, that X is to be encouraged and funded, while Y is to be suppressed. We can quibble over what the legitimate value judgments consist of, and why.

#18 Comment By Carlo On July 29, 2015 @ 11:40 am

J_A:

what Rod and Syarlys said.

Instead of projecting on me your inane fantasies about “bigotry,” you would use your time more productively by reflecting about the moral presuppositions of what you consider “facts of life.”

In particular, explain to me how the public schools can tell my children that various sexual acts are “normal” and “natural” without conveying an implicit moral judgment (which happens to be YOUR moral judgment. How nice!).

#19 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 29, 2015 @ 3:14 pm

John, caveats are a poor means of re-establishing a balance. To spend an hour saying “This is all nice and normal and the way it is, but Carlo’s children are free to believe him when he says otherwise” is condescending at best.

Further, the “science” you infer does not exist. E.g., at one time, the APA classified homosexuality, per se, as a mental illness, without knowing much about it, because of the social opprobrium attached to it. Now, the APA has ceased classifying homosexuality as a mental illness, because of the social opprobrium attached to doing so. But it has done more — it has essentially decreed that it is not ever and never can be treated by any therapist as the symptom of any mental challenge whatsoever, because it is good and right and normal.

I think it was good to remove it from the schedule of mental illnesses. I think it was wrong to deny that it ever could be the symptom or result of mental illness or trauma. The APA should be entirely neutral (and that is a real possibility), by humbly admitting, “We don’t really know.”

As a layman, who reads widely, I suspect that there are MANY reasons for homosexuality, SOME of which are innate, and others due to trauma. I have yet to see any science that “normalizes” homosexuality wholesale, which passes the Einstein test (if you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself). All the publicized research has been done by people determined to find that one side or the other is right, and amazingly, everyone finds that what they wanted to find is true! Thus, it is not fair game for public education.

To the extent that explicit sex education is presented, a clinical presentation that same sex attraction exists may be appropriate. To the extent that safe sex is taught, the methods that apply to heterosexual contact are not much different from those that apply to homosexual contact.

Mention should be made that you may not need any of this for ten years, or five years, or two years, and that many believe it is best to wait until you find a permanent life partner (which is certainly the ultimate in safe sex as far as STD’s go), but this is useful hygiene to be aware of.

#20 Comment By JonF On July 29, 2015 @ 3:24 pm

Re: That’s one of the reasons I find Moira Greyland’s story so compelling. It’s not that the vast majority of average, ordinary gay people might think the way Marion Zimmer Bradley did–it’s that a significant group of leaders within that community have been thinking and writing like this for decades, with the goal of eradicating society’s heteronormativity as a persistent element of that thought.

Erin,

Once upon a time there were some few people in the labor movement who were actual dyed-in-the-red-wool Communists, and who jerked their knee to every belch that old Comrade Stalin emitted. Was that good reason to tar the whole labor movement with such extremism? To embrace Randite Capitalism? That is what you are doing with your vignette about Marion Zimmer Bradley and her husband.
It’s very easy to slime any political movement by dragging it skeletons out of the closet (Hello there, Westboro Baptist!)– but it’s a classic ad hominem argument.

#21 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 29, 2015 @ 9:01 pm

I’ll see you and raise you JonF… that wasn’t even good reason to tar the whole international communist movement with such juvenile adulation.