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08/03/2006

Analyzing 'pro-family' rhetoric, one paragraph at a time

by Jeremy Hooper

In an argument against "homosexual indoctrination" in public schools, S.C Stratton of the Maine Risk Audit Project says in the Sept. edition of the Christian Civic League of Maine's Record newsletter:

When gay activists recently introduced a book into a kindergarten class in order to promote the idea of gay men getting married, it immediately set the issue of sexual difference into the forefront. Children in elementary school have no reason at their age to learn about the sexual “differences” of individuals. Pro-gay sponsors will argue that the book helps children recognize same-sex couples in our society or even at their local school. But honestly, children in kindergarten, 1st grade, all the way up into middle school, have no need to dwell on sexual relationships as part of their educational environment. Their little minds need not ponder the odd picture in the book of two men holding hands, let alone kissing in the final scene. This type of curriculum brings not the educational value that gay activists purport, but rather it spoils the decency of young minds and introduces them to a world where sexual fulfillment (in a distorted sense) is sought. In essence, activists have no right to teach your children their own sexual preferences or expose your children to things which even adults find difficult to read.

So she says that our pro-gay argument is that "the book helps children recognize same-sex couples in our society or even at their local school." Pretty accurate, actually. We want homosexuality to be seen as one part of the spectrum of human normalcy, the likes of which should not be feared or shunned. But then in her very next statement, Ms. Stratton tries to refute our quest for acceptance by saying that children don't "need to dwell on sexual relationships as part of their educational environment." But here's the thing: The book to which Ms. Stratton is referring to is "King & King, a fairy tale in which a prince just so happens to desire other princes instead of princesses. No talk of sex; no mention of bedroom behavior. If Ms. Stratton is going to base her antipathy for the book on an argument that children shouldn't be exposed to sexual relationships, then "Cinderella," "Sleeping Beauty," "Rapunzel" -- basically any book that features a prince and princess living happily ever after will need to also be ousted. After all, any display of love is really all about intercourse.

But then in her next statements, Ms. Stratton fully reveals her "it's really just one type of relationship I care about" hand, when she says the children's "little minds need not ponder the odd picture in the book of two men holding hands, let alone kissing in the final scene," and that exposure to such gaeity "spoils the decency of young minds and introduces them to a world where sexual fulfillment (in a distorted sense) is sought." So while her argument was purportedly setting out to refute the pro-gay side's encouragement of acceptance, she's actually only further proving the NEED for acceptance. Little minds will only see two men holding hands as an "odd picture" if they are encouraged to see it this way. Gay acceptance only "spoils the decency of young minds" if you define decency to be "the shunning of others who have the courage to live their truths." "Sexual fulfillment" is no more encouraged (and no more distorted) in "King & King" than it is any hetero-cetric fairy tale found in the canon of children's literature. What is encouraged is the capacity to realize that some folks simply don't love in the same way as Prince Charming and one of the various damsels that he's rescued, awakened, or fit with a glass slipper. That way when these five-year-olds reach high school, perhaps they'll be less inclined to play "Smear The Queer," as if it were a varsity sport.

Ms. Stratton then concludes this paragraph by boldly asserting that "..activists have no right to teach your children their own sexual preferences or expose your children to things which even adults find difficult to read." Of all of the statements, this might just be the one that annoys this writer more than any. Not only does she stay on the message of presenting homosexuality as a "sexual preference," she also follows the "pro-family" playbook of using terms like "children" and "adults" as if those words innately imply an opposition to homosexuality without any other adjectives. It's not "children of homophobic parents" or "adults who hold bias towards homosexuals" that she implies would be offended by this book; it's simply "adults" and "your children." This is because in the anti-gay world, those who understand and accept homosexuality are not simply adults and children, but rather they are "radical adults" or "indoctrinated children." They are presented as existing outside of the traditional lines; marginal folks who don't represent what America id truly all about. It's all part of their strategy to claim a monopoly on family values, morals, and societal ideals, so that anything and anyone stepping outside of the generally narrow "pro-family" world view can be presented as standing in opposition to righteousness. It's a tactic pulled right from the "my poo don't stink" playbook, and the "pro-family" team has used it to a head-slappingly sizable rate of success.

So you may be wondering why we took the time to analyze this one paragraph from an obscure Maine activist. Well that answer is simple: It's a very slow news day and we had little else to write about. But beyond that, we are beyond fed up with attacks on decency being presented as if it is the attack itself that is the truly decent position. This denunciation is not directed towards just Ms. Stratton's words; it's meant for any and all who're fostering a society of non-acceptance under the guise of "values." For any adult who knows the fear, rejection, and alienation that can come from growing up in a gay-unfriendly environment, it's beyond wounding to hear that this sort of scenario is being propagated for yet another generation. Gay kids are not going anywhere; they are a biological part of humanity, and will exist until the end of time. Rejecting them on the basis of who they are and encouraging their peers to do the same, however, is a sociological construct. It's not in-born, it's a learned concept. We're hopeful that by taking time to analyze and refute anti-gay words, no matter how benign or non-influental they may seem, we will slowly clue society in to how unnecessary and harmful the culture of gay rejection is to all of us.

Acceptance -- it is concept that even a child can understand.

New Policy Needed For Maine Public Schools: Non-Discrimination For Children of Faith And Traditional Families By S.C. Stratton [The Record]

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