Friday, July 15, 2011

Landmark Bill?

California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on July 14, 2011, stating that the gay community would be recognized in the history curriculum.  This is considered a landmark bill and proof that the world is progressing. 

While I agree on both counts what I don’t agree with is why this is such a necessary thing to teach students.  From what I understand history is being rewritten to include the sexual orientation of only the gay movers and shakers who have contributed to history.  Why?  Am I supposed to feel warm and fuzzy that some male politician was attracted to other males?  Does the fact that he liked to engage in sodomy change anything?  If Jerry Brown wants my children to learn this in school why stop there?  Rewrite history to include the sexual orientation of straight people too.  “Albert Einstein was a genius.  Oh and by the way, he also had sex with women.  This is important children.  Remember that he enjoyed the company of other women.  It will be on a test.  Forget about any mathematical contributions he made.  He liked women.”  Who is Governor Brown kidding with this landmark bill?   

When you think of California’s history what immediately comes to mind?  Even if you have never lived there.  The San Francisco Gold Rush.  Very good!  Do you know who started the Gold Rush?  Mormons.  I want religious preferences to be taught right along with sexual preferences.  However common opinion states this is ludicrous.  The insanity of this notion seems to boil down to a challenge of common beliefs of Mormons.  It’s a little known fact that Utah was the first state to grant women the right to vote.  True story.  A couple years after the Mormons granted women the right to vote.  But this is not common knowledge because politicians would rather enforce a gay curriculum than a religious one.  We must maintain the perception that Mormons keep their women subservient at home while they’re barefoot and pregnant.  In the meantime, let’s label every person in history by their gay sexual preference. 

Apparently the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible, the Old Testament that many religious groups believe in, is not enough gay history.   In the Bible’s defense, the sexual perversions in that story were important details of the story.  This is not always the case.  I think people should be recognized in history for the role they played.  Sexual orientation rarely has anything to do with it.  If someone is gay they should go off and be gay all they want.  Have their little gay parties and their little gay clubs and all the gay sex they want.  But leave it at that.  I’m not gay but I also don’t walk around introducing myself, “Hi my name is Tristan.  My favorite color is clear. I enjoy having sex with my male husband!”   Who cares!  My sexual preferences are mine alone.  So are everyone else’s. 

If anything, I think this landmark bill proves that society’s mind is so open its brains are falling out.  Tolerance does not mean forcing people to agree.  I am tolerant of the gay community.  They have every right to practice gay sex.  They have every right to not be discriminated against.  They do not have the right to force their opinions on others.  What’s next, only celebrating redheads in history?  Sexual preferences have nothing to do with any contribution to society, which is what this bill dictates.  Heterosexuals choose to engage in sexual encounters that will perpetuate the species.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun too.  Homosexuals choose to engage in sexual activities that they find pleasurable, period.  This difference of opinion bears no merit whatsoever on social contributions in history.  Can we move on please! 

6 thoughts:

Ray Colon said...

Hi Tristan,

This is an unusual topic for you. Something offended you about a hot button issue and you wrote about it. I like it.

I understand why you would recoil from the changes brought about by this legislation. After all, the debate over when (if ever) sexual education takes place in schools continues. I haven't read the bill, but I assume that it is intended to correct a wrong - perceived or real. Like civil rights legislation before it, the overall idea is to say "the contributions of this class of people have been covered up or diminished in the past."

To a gay student this may make a difference because it would let him or her know that people like them have contributed to society -- much like an African American student may look differently upon history lessons that do not exclude contributions made by other African Americans.

Should sexual orientation make a difference? No. Does it make a difference in actuality? It's obvious to me that it does, given the religious and moral arguments against it.

I'm going to back up a bit. Heterosexuals do not have sex only to perpetuate the species. Some do, many do not. To those who do not, perpetuating the species is, if anything, a byproduct.

An important starting point to these discussions is the belief that homosexuals do not choose their orientation anymore than heterosexuals do. People are what we are. Many don't believe that this is true, so the opposing sides will always be at an impasse.

My sister is gay. She didn't choose to be gay. Who would? It's a hard life.

Your points about Mormon contributions are, of course, valid. I don’t doubt that Mormon contributions are downplayed if not excluded all together from history books. In my view, your dismay over the Mormon misrepresentation places you on the opposite side of the argument. Contributions by gay people should not be excluded because those by Mormons are, they should both be included. Unfortunately, the political reality in California is that the gay constituency is larger, I suspect, than the Mormon constituency.

As a parent, I’m concerned about what is taught in schools as well, so I am not dismissing your opinion. I just believe that the initial upheaval will eventually quell and become a non-issue. There’s a difference between teaching about something and advocating it, although advocating it would be of no consequence if one believes that being gay is not a choice. So we are back at the beginning.

I’ve spoken with my daughters about all sorts of differences that they will find in people, including gays. They don’t seem to have been harmed by those discussions.

Sorry that this comment is so long.

Ray

Grandma W said...

Tristan, I am with you all the way on this one. Sexual orientation does not need to be taught in schools. If a student asks me I will give them an honest answer but I do not see where the sexual orientation of the person has anything to do with their contribution to history UNLESS we are teaching about homosexual history itself. Not a subject that needs to be taught in school. My job as a teacher is to teach young people to think and find out for themselves. Not teach them what to think. Too many parents have abdicated their responsibilities. How about it we if we go back to teaching moral values to children at home?

The Piquant Storyteller said...

Hi Ray,

First of all, never apologize for a long comment! Hello! I have trouble with being concise on a consistent basis and have left you novel length comments on your blog many times. Second of all, this is the second time you seem to be surprised by my opinion or choice in sharing that opinion. This only bothers me because while we don’t know each other well at all, I have to wonder what am I putting out there that you would get this impression of me? Maybe my very G-rated family friendly posts overshadow who I am – an extremely opinionated person. And maybe my ridiculous desire to always please people keeps me from posting a lot of my controversial opinions.

In fact, I was careful to write this post in a way that I was not addressing the moral issues of homosexuality. I have strong opinions on that and I would be willing to discuss it with you. That’s what I like about you, Ray. We don’t always agree but you are so civil about it! I enjoy the different point of view you bring to my blogging table. Anyway, the reason why I was so careful not to focus on the moral questions is because that has nothing to do with the issue I was addressing.

There have always been classes of people, races, and any kind of minority group that has always felt left out. This will probably always be the case. In my opinion, society is very label happy right now. Everyone wants to be labeled with something they have to overcome, as if that challenge makes their contribution more worthwhile than another who has a different challenge. Who decides which groups are more important than others and why? We all have something we are trying to overcome. We all have something that makes us different. I guess I don’t understand why a group of people would want to single themselves out in this outrageous way where their “challenges” are the focus. I still stand by my argument that homosexuality adds nothing to the story so why make such a big deal about it?

I apologize if I gave the impression that I am offended that Mormons are not always recognized in history. This is not how I feel. I was trying to point out that someone is always left out of history. Would a focus on Mormonism change the story of the California Gold Rush? No. So it’s not worth lobbying for a bill to include that information, in my opinion.

It’s not shocking that I agree with my mother in law when she says that morals should be taught at home and not in school. I feel that this bill is mandating moral discussions that don’t belong in school. I’m glad that you have had discussions with your daughters about all the different people they could encounter in this world. I have had similar conversations with my own children. Not that it needs to be said now, but Heath and I teach our kids to be Christlike in that they love the sinner and hate the sin. What we believe to be sins is irrelevant to this conversation. I believe tolerance is best achieved by accepting people for who they are. I have made it my subconscious mission in life to surround myself with people who are very different from me. I believe I have an open mind while maintaining my own standards. I hope so anyway. As always, thank you for your comment. I was looking forward to what you had to say to this post.

Thanks,
Tristan

The Piquant Storyteller said...

Dawn,

I don’t know how to respond to your comment. You and I both agree and you said it very well in your comment. As a former teacher, I felt like I spent more time teaching discipline and manners than I had time to teach academics. Teaching in the schools I did in the communities I did, I had very little support from parents. There was definitely an attitude that I was the expert on everything from curriculum to social propriety. This bill does seem to cross a line into mandating morality as part of the curriculum, which it shouldn’t be. What’s next, PETA lobbying to take out discussion on meat in nutrition lessons? As always, thanks for sharing.

Ray Colon said...

Hi Tristan,

That apologizing over the long comment was a reflex. When I start in the comment field and then switch over to the word processor, I know its going to be a long one. :)

My reference to being surprised has more to do with frequency that substance. I think that you tend to stay on the less controversial / less political side of the spectrum. We’ve had discussions on controversial issues and it’s clear to me that you have strong opinions and express your views with conviction. I merely meant to say that I thought that it was good that you were “putting yourself out there” with this post. So please don’t feel bothered – no slight intended.

Yes, your post was specific to the legislation and not a commentary on the moral issue. I brought it into the conversation because determinations on how one feels about the issue are colored by our moral compasses. So the moral issue, whether overtly presented or not, drives the discussion. Your last paragraph says as much. It’s like the elephant in the room.

We’ve disagreed in the past, and that’s a good thing. Imagine how boring life would be if all of our views were homogenized. The open exchange of ideas is one of the best parts of blogging. Being agreed with is nice, but it’s the disagreements which cause us to think, assess our stances, and emerge with a different view or more certain than ever of our position. It’s the kind of intellectual stress test that I’ve found to be sorely lacking in most of the exchanges that people have with one another.

If the additions to the text are to be factual in nature, something like “Harvey Milk, who was homosexual, advocated for gays rights. He was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in …”

Would something like that be improper?

The moral question may come up during class discussion, but I don’t think that we will be seeing textbooks saying, “Homosexuality is good.” I could be wrong.

I know that you often read a post, go away to mull it over, and then come back to respond. I took your approach this time, as I was really tired when I saw your Email come in late last night / early this morning. This has been challenging, thought provoking, and fun too.

You know, if we had planned ahead, we could have gotten several blog posts each out of this discussion. :)

Always a pleasure,
Ray

The Piquant Storyteller said...

Hi Ray,

I totally get the word processor comment! This was the first time I wrote my comments out in Word then copied and pasted when I was done. It's one of those topics with so many facets that can be emotionally driven. So much to say with such little comment boxes!

Thank you for clarifying your surprise. I didn't figure you meant anything negative by it but now I get where you're coming from. It is still scary for me to "put myself out there" in a post but I'm getting braver. I think what scares me most about it now is knowing you will comment. But then that's not very scary when I remember that you always listen and invite debate not fights. Most of the time my piquant posts are answered with crickets chirping. For some reason people don't want to weigh in.

The biggest reason why I seek out people who are very different from myself is because I get so bored of the same old same old. There is more to life than my corner of the world. Thanks for always pushing me to think deeper.

There is no natural segue into the rest of your comment. So let's just dive in! You asked a valid question about Harvey Milk. My question back to you is why would he have to labeled a gay activist? Why not a civil rights activist? Isn't that basically what he was doing? He was fighting for civil rights of homosexuals. All individuals deserve basic civil rights. But then the marriage question comes up and that's a whole other post.

Back to Harvey Milk - my pet peeve with Harvey Milk Day is that everyone seems to believe he was a gay martyr. He was not assasinated for his sexual orientation. I guess that's where I freak out about this new legislation. Should groups be accurately portrayed in history? Yes. But why this hyper correction? What's the underlying agenda? And then there's another post.

The whole gay "controversy" does stem from a moral standpoint. Which is why it's such a hot topic. I know very few people who are on the fence or couldn't care less about the issue. It's a big deal to everyone and who gets to decide who's right or wrong? There's that impasse you were talking about.

You ended with an interesting thought. We could have each gotten several blog posts out of this discussion. Earlier I thought you meant one thing now I'm looking at it again and thinking you meant something else entirely. I don't know, this has been very thought provoking. I don't know that I would go so far as to say fun! :) It's been a lot of work for me to keep my personal judgments out of it.

Enjoy your day,
Tristan