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01/23/2007

Deerfield High students, you might wanna look elsewhere for a G-SA sponsor

by Jeremy Hooper

Laurie Higgins, a staff member who works in the English Dept. at Illinois' Deerfield High School, recently appeared on the "Primetime America" Christian radio show, where she denounced the way gay acceptance is encouraged in the nation's schools. An example of her "kind" Christian words:

"They make the argument that in order to make kids safe, we cannot say that homosexual conduct is wrong. Of course, if you're saying safety is dependent on an absence of disapproval, if you apply that principle, it would preclude us from ever being able to make principled objections to ANY behavior. So how could we say, "using drugs is wrong!" because then the drug user is going to feel bad that you are criticizing them, and we can't do that. So they only selectively apply this principle of safety regarding certain conduct."

Logical. Because as everyone knows, one's choice to use illegal, irrefutably dangerous substances like cocaine and heroin is EXACTLY the same thing as one's natural desire to share intimacy with someone of the same sex. In fact, this writer can remember being a little boy on his school's playground, where it wasn't a little girl and her lollipop that were attracting his attention, but rather it was a little boy and a stray crack vial that the local junkie had left behind the monkey bars that caught his eye. And it carried on into high school -- while all of my male friends were dead-set on chasing girls, I knew I was born to love either men or LSD, whichever came first. That's because drug addiction and sexual orientation -- six of one, half a dozen of the other!

::Writer rolls eyes so sarcastically, he fears Ms. Higgins will think he's trying to force dramatic eye movements agenda on an unsuspecting public::

The flaw in Ms. Higgins argument lies in her assertion that "safety is dependent on an absence of disapproval." Nobody on our side is making this claim, as it would be ridiculous! We are simply saying that folks are not allowed to use their moral, religious objections to demean people for what the vast majority feel is a fixed, physiological characteristic of their being! Gay kids inarguably exist! Whether or not you find them unsavory because of your religious convictions is irrelevant in terms of school acceptance. They are not like the ultra-short mini skirt that the school trollop wears to compensate for her low self-esteem! Such a garment could be barred on the basis of "principled objection," as attire that allows for partial butt cheek viewing could be seen as dangerous to the teen's well-being. But gay students, like gay people, are not dress code violations; they are part of the spectrum of normalcy! Unlike disapproval of drugs, revealing clothing, fighting, tardiness, non-attendance, coming to school drunk, or bringing firearms to class, disapproval of gay kids is baseless, dangerous, and mean-sprited! It will not and should not ever be accepted!

Higgins goes on to say:

"When you see film after film and sitcom after sitcom with favorable portrayals of homosexuals, meaning they're funny, they're intelligent, they're compassionate, pretty soon -- and I know this is a deliberate attempt to change public opinion -- what happens is you start to think, 'Well, this person is gay and they're kind and loving and intelligent and hardworking, therefore homosexuality must be okay.' Which, of course, is an absurd conclusion. The presence of a positive trait in one area has no relevance on a moral assessment of an entirely different behavior."
...
"This is the danger with allowing your kids to watch a lot of films and television shows where homosexuals are portrayed sympathetically. They will, as illogical as it is, come away with the view '
Well, homosexuality must be okay because these are nice people.' And you wouldn't say that about an adulterer. You wouldn't say, 'Well, he's committing adultery, but he's really smart and he's really kind and he's really compassionate and he's really funny, therefore adultery must be okay.' But that's what's happening! And I don't think it's just impacting kids, I think it's impacting adults."

Wow, linking gays with both drug users AND adulterers in the span of one appearance? Someone's been doing their "pro-family" homework! But we wonder if Ms. H. has ever stopped to think that perhaps gay people are simply NOT the sort of demons that the anti-gays have made us out to be. Perhaps it's that Hollywood screenwriters, who tend to know lots of gay people and actually interact with them, are simply writing what they know to be truth. And if those accurate portrayals work to counter the inaccurate, demonized picture that our opposition has perpetuated, then FANTASTIC! For showing that we are a part of life and that we non-controversially exist is our true "agenda."

But Ms. H. is right in saying that one shouldn't view homosexuality as normal simply because gay people come across in a favorable light. For people should view homosexuality as normal for the simple fact that IT EXISTS THROUGHOUT THE ANIMAL KINGDOM, AND HAS ALWAYS EXISTED IN EVERY CULTURE THROUGHOUT RECORDED HISTORY!! It's enraging that these people continue to paint something that is so much a part of the mainstream and so natural for so many as both "fringe and unnatural." What is unnatural is going out of your way to embrace contempt for a very large segment of the population! And what's also unnatural is continuing to try and link us to adulterers and drug addicts in order to keep an unpalatable gay image in the public's consciousness. Especially for someone who works for a public school system, and is likely to come in frequent contact with gay kids who are in need of compassion and understanding!!

To hear more of Ms. Higgins' words for yourself, click the link below. But we must warn you -- antipathy masked as compassion is in large supply, so make sure your stomach is in a place that can handle such noxious approaches!

Listen to 1/22/2007 Audio (Higgins segment starts around 10:30) [Moody Broadcasting]

**UPDATE: This little bit of info. from a former student of Deerfield High:

I unfortunately (or fortunately) didn't have much interaction with her. I actually intentionally avoided her, but something that did irk me about her was the fact that she was working in a place where various different students with different beliefs and morals would go to her to seek help for their academic work. And the one brief interaction we had was when she came up to a group of my friends and I when we went to see a man, Steve Bennett, who claimed to be an "ex-gay". She thanked us for coming and that was about it. It boggled me how much hate and disrespect was in this woman, yet I knew that I still had to respect her views and beliefs, but I had a difficult time respecting her actions.

More alumni experiences forthcoming...

**UPDATE, 11/30: Ms. Higgins has responded (civilly) and we have replied to her response (just as civilly).

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Your thoughts

Who would Jesus hate, eh? What these bilious wretches seem to miss is that we had exactly the kind of poisonous atmosphere that they'd like to see back in the 70s. When I was at school in the UK we were only a few years past the decriminalisation of gay sex in 1967. Yes, gay sex was once an imprisonable offence here. As a consequence, appearing gay was absolutely the worst thing for a boy to be. I spent my childhood terrified of being "found out". These despicable morons obviously want us to return to those days; they don't want children to grow up loved and healthy and accepted. Well I've been there; it was a nightmare. These people who claim to speak for a god of love yet promote hatred are a new Taliban. Shame on them.

Posted by: John C | Jan 23, 2007 12:00:04 PM

'Well, this person is gay and they're kind and loving and intelligent and hardworking, therefore homosexuality must be okay.'

Dear Lord! Before you know it, people will start loving their neighbors as themselves! And once that happens, all bets are off!!

Posted by: Ian D. Stewart | Jan 23, 2007 3:08:40 PM

What's sad to me, is the lengths to which they will go to maintain their personal belief that gay people are evil...in this case, denying aspects of their own faith.

The Christian scriptures record Jesus as saying, "By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit." (in Matthew 7) It's a very simple truth reflected in the world for those who who take notice of reality.

But the perspective Higgin's holds (and many others) tries to say that the good fruits (hee hee) produced by gay people come from a "bad tree." Life just doesn't work that way.

Posted by: Dash | Jan 23, 2007 3:30:08 PM

...and we can't let the gays into the "controlling the media" niche, because that's the Jews' bit, and if the gays start in, the Jews will get tetchy and start another world war.

Oh wait, wrong bigot!

Tbh, though, I'm surprised and appalled that she's an English teacher, of all subjects. Shouldn't she be familiar with the works of prominent gay authors, such as Oscar Wilde and E. M. Forster? And it's not like they were furtive in their examination of sexuality in their works, too...I mention this because while gay people have made significant contributions to other fields (like Alan Turing), expressions of love and sexuality are more commonly examined in forms of art.

Posted by: jaj | Jan 23, 2007 6:04:10 PM

And to take those examples... Oscar Wilde: imprisoned for his sexuality; EM Forster lived in fear and shame his entire life (Maurice was only published after his death); and Alan Turing was convicted of "gross indecency" and suffered enforced hormone therapy which many believe led to his suicide shortly after. These were notable examples, men who stand for thousands we've never heard of, victims of barbaric intolerance.

Oscar Wilde now has a window in Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey, and statues in London and Dublin. Alan Turing has a statue in Manchester, midway between the institute were he worked and the gay village. The people who persecuted and tormented them have no statues; no one remembers bigots. That's civilisation at work.

Posted by: John C | Jan 23, 2007 10:48:27 PM

As another Deerfield High School alumna, I have to respectfully disagree with comments previously made with respect to Ms. Higgins' beliefs and presence in the educational environment. While I personally have a number of homosexual friends and do not agree with a number of her convictions with respect to homosexuality (portrayal of gay and lesbian individuals in the media in a positive light, etc.), my personal encounters with Ms. Higgins suggested neither "hate" nor "disrespect." I became interested in hearing her perspective on some of the more contentious issues, such as thosepresented in the radio interview and engaged her in conversation accordingly on several occasions during my time as a student. I found that her viewpoints on homosexuality, while undeniably condemning the lifestyle as morally wrong, left no room for hatred or animosity. She disagreed with homosexuality as a lifestyle choice (whether or not you agree with this interpretation is not the issue). However convenient it may be for the sake of argument to equate ethical disagreement with personal hatred, this is not only logically irresponsible, but in my experience, completely unfounded. To say, "I disagree with what you are doing," is not the same as saying, "I hate you." I'm not suggesting that anyone must ascribe to Higgins' views on sexuality. But try to maintain some integrity in your side of the debate. The previous alumna posting had a difficult time "respecting her actions," presumably in response to bringing an "ex-gay" to a public speaking event. Perhaps the poster should afford the "ex-gay" the same respect that s/he him/herself demands and allow him the freedom to express changes in his sexual identity without judgment and condemnation. Perhaps s/he should allow Higgins the opportunity to express an opposing viewpoint (as opposed to bigoted invective) without imposing his/her own preconceptions of the presence of hatred without any tangible evidence, save the ethical disagreement. Disagreement = hatred? That must mean I hate the original Deerfield High School comment poster, right? Please. Remedial logic, anyone?

Posted by: John Doe | Jan 27, 2007 3:38:04 AM

Mr. "Doe": We have simply posted the one alumni comment that has been sent to us. There are supposed to be more forthcoming, and when we get them -- they will be posted, good, bad, or ugly. We also welcome the opportunity for Ms. Higgins to respond, just as we welcome and post responses from EVERYONE we challenge.

A major issue for us is that Ms. Higgins is a public school employee who is taking on the role of an anti-gay spokesperson. She was presented on the radio program as some sort of expert on "homosexual indoctrination" in public schools. This is a controversial role for someone with whom parents of all stripes entrust their kids. While we don't for a second think Ms. Higgins is outwardly hateful to anyone, painting gays as standing in opposition to morality and supporting "change" for gays are very hurtful concepts. She does, after all, equate gays with drug users and adulterers. Again -- controversial role for a public employee.

At G-A-Y, we find the "ex-gay" movement a dangerous, duplicitous, movement of false compassion that has been cleverly designed to put a friendly face on homophobia. We, like every credible health association, oppose the idea FULLY. We have never denied that. This is because we know the issues and we understand their modus operandi. Our staunch opposition to the movement is not an expression of hate towards any "ex-gay" individual or the champions of the cause, but rather one of true love and compassion for gay and lesbian individuals. You say "Perhaps the poster should afford the "ex-gay" the same respect that s/he him/herself demands and allow him the freedom to express changes in his sexual identity without judgment and condemnation." At G-A-Y, we routinely present the arguments and words from "ex-gay" speakers. And we do refrain from judging the character of any individuals, choosing to refute their words and actions instead. But to suggest that those of us who they are targeting should not respond to their charges (which, essentially, are that we are morally flawed and can be "saved" via Jesus) with condemnation, is offensive to our lives and loves.

Oh, and gays do not have a "lifestyle." If you truly do have "a number of homosexual friends," they can surely tell you why this is offensive.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jan 27, 2007 8:16:12 AM

I am sorry that you were offended by my use of the word, "lifestyle." I simply used the term to make a case against equating disagreement with hatred in the previous post. Perhaps sexual practice would have been a less offensive choice of words. Sexual practice can just as easily apply to straight people, bisexual people, etc. I was under the impression that it was obvious from the context what "lifestyle" was referencing. This was not intended as a stigmatizing term. I could just as soon have said that straight people live a "lifestyle" in the context. This is not to suggest that all straights, gays, bisexuals, etc. live exactly the same type of life, respectively, or are intrinsically similar in any other way than in terms of sexual identity. Obviously. And obviously, "lifestyle," encompasses more than sexual identity.

Posted by: John Doe | Jan 27, 2007 1:01:09 PM

"bilious wretches" "despicable morons" "new Taliban" "bigots" While I do not know Mrs. Higgins personally and I do not agree with her stance, I must question the use of all these names. I have heard, through other students at the high school that she is not at all hateful, not at all a bigot, and certainly not a "bilious wretch." I do indeed disagree with her, but I must say that I listened carefully to what she said and none of it justified any of these terrible things. We on the more liberal side should, in my opinion, show the respect that we would expect from anyone. Those words are hurtful and simply make us seem as though we are sinking lower to no longer question ideas, but rather do nothing but try to personally stab at this woman.

However, I do see one miscommunication. A hateful person is someone that promotes abuse of homosexuals, which I know that she does not. Her ideas, though possibly irksome or controversial, are simply ideas like mine and yours. She did not call us names and I simply think it is petty to do that to her.

Again, I am liberal! I do not agree with Mrs. Higgins, but the fact is we must be mature and respectful even if we disagree! I urge you to rethink hurtful phrases, because though her words may have hurt you, it was obvious that that was not her intent. But, it appears as though that is yours. Frustration is surely a natural response, but I hope it will manifest in a more respectable light-If it is tolerance you want, it is tolerance you must give. Of all viewpoints.

Thanks!

Posted by: Jane Doe | Jan 29, 2007 11:54:44 PM

I'm not sure to whom you are addressing your comments, "Ms. Doe," but we did not refer to Ms. Higgins in disparaging ways. Our comments section is an open forum where people are free to respond as they wish (with the exception of extreme vulgarity, which we will delete). But we are in agreement on respect, and at G-A-Y, we do not attack our opposition's character, but rather their words and actions.

That being said, I do think your views on "hate" are a bit oversimplified. While yes, the most extreme form of hate directly promotes abuse and is widely condemned, ANY rhetoric that encourages people to view gays and lesbians as "lesser than" fosters the sort of culture of non-acceptance that indirectly keeps gay abuse alive. You say "Her ideas, though possibly irksome or controversial, are simply ideas like mine and yours." But this is far from true. Gay rights advocates are asking to simply be accepted as part of the spectrum of normalcy. Ms. Higgins went on a radio program to "warn" parents of the gay-accepting policies of many public schools, comparing gays to adulterers and drug addicts in the process. She also encouraged "change" for gays and lesbians. While certainly her own views, the likes of which she is certainly free to express, hers are not thoughts that are merely "irksome or controversial." They are downright dangerous!

But yes, we would ask that folks in the comments section try and take a road in which they challenge our opposition to think, not call them names. It would seem to be a more powerful course of response.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jan 30, 2007 8:40:54 AM

Just to clarify- My last response was to the above comments, not to your article. I'm sorry if I had not made that clear!

While I do agree that I did oversimplify hate for sake of time, I disagree with one of your points (Respectfully, mind you- I do not want to appear rude in any way). She did go on a Christian radio station, and it is true that many Christians believe that promoting homosexuality is wrong. The problems that arose when the conservatives in the school said that they think homosexuality is controversial, and should still be a debate (while the school typically presents only one side) they were mistreated terribly. This is just wrong. In the same way, homosexuals ought not be mistreated, neither should any student.

Also, I listened again to her segment. Again- I disagree with much of what she says. But, she did not compare, from what I understood, homosexuals to drug addicts and adulterers but rather used them to make one common point. Whether it came out wrong from Mrs. Higgins, or I am misunderstanding, I thought she was saying that just as there are dangerous aspects of an adulterer or drug addicts life, there are increasingly dangerous aspects to a homosexuals life. This is true. I believe, however, that it is still their life to live, even if their are higher risks.

While she did encourage change, I must say that I have read much of Christianity and though it is controversial (certainly) change is often recommended. The reason I do not see this as dangerous is because the most that could happen in such a liberal town as Deerfield, is a little more balance on the issue in schools. I would hope that in this progressive town students would never choose hate, but if they are old enough to be surrounded by these issues, they should hear both sides and decide (respectfully) for themselves.

And thank you for the point about challenging the opposition to think! This is what we need to be a well informed society!

And just a side note for any readers: I know enough about Mrs. Higgins, and have seen her interaction with students enough to know she hates no one! She is just as kind and loving to the homosexual students as the straight students. As the alumni's response that is posted even proved: she did nothing but thank them! To me, that does not seem to resemble hatred.

Posted by: Jane Doe | Jan 30, 2007 5:10:50 PM

Well, we're going to have to just agree to disagree, Ms. "Doe." We've said more of what we need to say about this here:
http://www.goodasyou.org/good_as_you/2007/01/deerfield_high__1.html

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jan 30, 2007 5:21:12 PM

First of all, G-A-Y, you might want to take a refresher course on civil discourse.

You said:

"Civil discourse means that you say your piece, I say mine, and we go back and forth until one of us tired of it."

At its strongest, I find that civil discourse is a process that allows further understanding of ideas on both sides, leading to greater insight and an ability to, in some way, grasp another's point of view.

I truly believe that Laurie Higgins is not only willing to, but takes great pleasure in
dialoguing about issues such as these. I don't think she is speaking her mind in order to incite any sort of hatred or indoctrinate people, but to start a discussion and experience an exchange of ideas.

To you and the rest of the respondants--if you are going to spar with Ms. Higgins, at least make an attempt to step up and engage on the intellectual level that she puts forth. She would never refer to anyone as a "bilious wretch". She is not a hateful person in any way. She is not hurting anyone. Its called freedom of speech, people!

I think this just illustrates the double standard that exists in our society, and seems to be more of an issue on the "liberal" side of things. Believe me, if you look at the social and political continuum, I fall on the very left. But I have to understand that if I want to speak my piece and be respected for my opinions and my beliefs, I have to allow the same for everyone else. It is okay for you to have a gay themed blog and express your thoughts, but you condemn Ms. Higgins for doing the same thing, just in a different arena?

I don't get it.

A DHS Alumni who is a registered Democrat but a proud friend of ANYONE who has the courage to speak their mind in a public forum.

Posted by: DHS Alumni | Jan 30, 2007 9:41:22 PM

The post mentions that Laurie Higgins, like me, is someone who "works for a public school system, and is likely to come in frequent contact with gay kids who are in need of compassion and understanding." It is her approach--one that loves individuals enough to call them to overcome whatever complex mix of biological and environmental factors is causing homosexual desires--that is the truly loving approach. Our culture is beginning to think we can solve the problem by calling what is bad "good." But that can only lead to more problems. Good for Laurie for standing up for the right (and albeit increasingly difficult) response.

Posted by: Dan Tompkins | Aug 23, 2007 2:04:55 PM

Mr. Tompkins: Teach what to write, not what's 'right'
http://www.goodasyou.org/good_as_you/2007/08/mr-tompkins-tea.html

Posted by: G-A-Y | Aug 23, 2007 3:00:26 PM

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