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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The current state of Sexual Orientation Education in our Schools

The idea that schools might address sexual orientation in schools has come as a surprise to many parents. Letters to the editor have suggested that this was part of a gay agenda, and an attempt to introduce and promote ideas in a school culture that says nothing about sexual orientation.

Unfortunately, our children are already getting an education about sexual orientation from their peers, and sometimes their teachers. They are learning that "gay" is a synonym for "stupid" ("that's so gay"). They are exposed to gay slurs, name calling and verbal and physical violence on the basis of sexual orientation and perceived sexual orientation. Too often, teachers do not respond to these actions.

Our children look to us to be examples. Students, whether heterosexual or LGBT, are disturbed by the extent of anti-gay language and bullying. They want the adults around them to do something, to call a halt, to make a stand, and to protect all students in the schools from being witnesses to or participants in these unacceptable practices.

The choice before us is not whether or not we talk about sexual orientation in the schools. The choice is how. There are gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered children in our schools. There are children with family members who are LGBT. There are straight kids who are subjected to bullying as if they were gay. Bystanders are also affected by the offense against human dignity. If we do nothing about bullying and name-calling, then we are telling our children that this is acceptable to us. If we do something about the bullying and name-calling, then we will also need to confront our own discomfort with differences.

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