Teaching Gay & Lesbian Sex to 8th Graders

September 14, 2004 | 75 comments
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Just a few months ago, defenders of traditional marriage predicted that should government recognize gay marriages, public schools would soon give equal treatment to homosexuality in sex education classes. We were right quicker than I expected. In Massachusetts, a committee is already preparing a ‘gay-friendly’ curriculum for kindergartners and up, a school district is helping elementary teachers overcome their reluctance to use particular words in the classroom, and an 8th grade sex education teacher shows her students how to have gay and lesbian sex by drawing pictures of various sex positions, then asking the class questions such as “Can a woman and a woman have vaginal sex?” The students usually answer no, she says, but she tells them, “Of course they can! They can use sex toys, or do other things.” After she’s cured them of their innocence, she leads the class in discussion.

According to the Massachusetts administrators, teachers and activists NPR interviewed for their depressing story, sexual preference should be treated as an attribute like race. After hearing this story, I would not allow my kids to attend school in Massachusetts until I had had a long and productive conversation with their principal and teachers.

The only beneficiaries of this determination to indoctrinate children about homosexuality will be the private schools, as more religious parents decide they’ll forego other luxuries, like family vactions, in order to educate their kids in schools committed to teaching the truth. Unfortunately, many parents will be too poor to pull their kids from public schools, no matter how many lies their children are taught. This will greatly increase the number of kids questioning, experimenting, and as a result, suffering, with their sexuality.

Fortunately for us, large majorities of Americans oppose gay marriage. Because gay activists know a frog jumps from boiling water, they are trying to be careful not to raise the water’s temperature too quickly. It is therefore important for those of us who have witnessed the rising temperature to point it out to others. Hopefully we can persuade society to confront what they know to be wrong before great numbers of kids are hurt.

Please email this story to your friends and family who know the truth.

75 Responses to Teaching Gay & Lesbian Sex to 8th Graders

  1. [...] ecognizing marriage of all sorts it also required sex ed of all sorts, and they pointed to the Massachussetts example . I don’t know if this works as a legal argument, but [...]

  2. danithew on September 14, 2004 at 1:34 pm

    There wasn’t any discussion of sex toys in any of my high-school sex ed classes. Nor was there really any discussion of sexual positions. Kids are growing up way too fast these days.

  3. Charles on September 14, 2004 at 1:48 pm

    Sex education in the classroom isn’t a how to curriculum like shop. At least it shouldn’t be. The class may be necessary to instruct students of appropriate age the biological and physical differences between men and women, thier reproductive process and health matters that involve sex, including disease, basic fetus developemet, abstanence if possible and prevention second. Its important for our youth to understand these things.

    But Holy Ambiguously Gay Duo Batman! Instructing children how to perform these sex acts is completely wrong. Drawings, photos, or videos… this is paramount to using p()rn to instruct our kids, kids that aren’t even old enough to watch an “R” rated movie without adult supervision.

    This is an example of the terrible slippery slope this issue entails.

  4. Kristine on September 14, 2004 at 2:34 pm

    Matt, your selective presentation of the story makes for a pretty serious distortion. This is a *proposed* curriculum being drawn up by gay and lesbian activists–it won’t ever be adopted as-is in any classroom in Massachusetts or anywhere else. You’ve taken a single quote (and embellished it with your idea of diagrams–what she says she calls a chart of is a checklist of kissing, hugging, intercourse) from a single teacher, who clearly is in the story as an extreme example, and made it sound like that’s the whole story. Curricula like these have been around for a long time in lots of states, and mostly what they’re used for is fodder for conservative activists to get parents in a tizzy. I think we can take a more reasoned approach here.

  5. Geoff B on September 14, 2004 at 3:04 pm

    Kristine, you are correct to point out that there is a difference between a proposal and what is actually taught in class. However, I would urge you to listen to the NPR piece again. A lesbian teacher clearly tells her class already about positions, lesbian sex including sex toys, etc.

    There are reasons for conservative activists to be in a tizzy about what is going on in public schools, both in Massachusetts and elsewhere. My sister lives in California, where her children are taught to “tolerate” gay people (“it’s OK to be gay”) in elementary school. Their response: “mommy, what’s a gay person?” I’d like to propose that the world would be a better place if kids could wait at least until the sixth grade to completely lose their innocence. The conservative activist’s position in the NPR story is so reasonable that it’s somewhat sad: they simply say that it’s probably best for some subjects to be discussed between their kids and their parents. This obvious point is just too much for homosexual activists who must force their own agenda on the world, regardless of parental needs for privacy, innocence, etc.

    As SSM becomes more common and acceptable, expect many, many more horror stories like this and much, much worse. What’s next? “Tolerance for pedarasts” taught in the schools?

  6. Kaimi on September 14, 2004 at 3:10 pm

    Geoff asks:

    What’s next? “Tolerance for pedarasts� taught in the schools?

    Or perhaps even legal permission for sadomasichists to marry!

    Update: Volokh’s archives don’t seem to be showing the discussion; it’s at http://www.volokh.com and scroll down a bit to the post titled “Things are even worse than you could have imagined.”

  7. Kristine on September 14, 2004 at 3:15 pm

    Geoff, there’s a simple kid-friendly way to answer that question without talking about sex: “a gay person is a man who loves a man, or a woman who loves a woman.” In my family, we are lucky enough to have lovely, committed gay couples as friends, so we can finish up with “like Ben’s moms, or Jeanne and Lisa.” No innocence lost.

  8. Geoff B on September 14, 2004 at 3:58 pm

    Kristine/Kaimi, would you like your eighth-grade kids to be taught in sometimes mandatory/sometimes accidentally happened upon classes that lesbian/gay sexual positions and told that there are all kinds of ways for lesbians to have sex, including sex toys? Or would you like to answer sexual issues with your eight graders in the privacy of your own home and in your own way? I am sincerely curious as to your answers.

  9. Kaimi on September 14, 2004 at 4:06 pm

    Geoff,

    Do you think that the kids will not have heard about sex? That eighth graders will be coming into sex ed with no idea about the birds and/or bees, and leaving with a bunch of new knowledge?

    Kids are going to learn about sex from all sorts of different sources. Primarily, they’re going to learn from their classmates.

    I’ll be discussing these topics with my kids, to make sure that they are properly informed. And since other than parents, the major source of information is their classmates, I’ll be quite glad that there is some sex ed to give my kids’ peers some basic facts about sex, birth control, and so forth. At least some of my kids’ classmates won’t have parents who teach them, and absent some kind of sex ed, they’ll be learning from American Pie and Maxim magazine, and of course passing on their knowledge to their peers.

  10. John H on September 14, 2004 at 4:11 pm

    Geoff, since you didn’t address your question to me, I’ll answer :)

    I have two young boys who will be heading to school soon, and I’m just fine with school sex ed programs. If someone goes a little too far, or says something we’re not thrilled with as parents, we can always talk it over with our kids. Perhaps it may act as a stimulus (no pun intended) to starting conversations that our children might otherwise be too embarrassed to bring up.

    I think Matt’s post is interesting, but it does seem like a very extreme representation meant to rally conservatives in a call to arms. Personally, I just can’t work up the outrage over this one.

  11. Kristine on September 14, 2004 at 4:21 pm

    Geoff, I assume that I will have covered the basics of sex ed. at home before my kids have these classes at school. Moreover, I expect that I will have a relationship with the teacher(s) who teach these subjects and will have discussed the curriculum with them (and other parents) before it’s taught. I imagine we’ll have some relationship-themed family home evenings around the time sex-ed topics are introduced at school. I wouldn’t hesitate to ask to have my children excused from certain parts of the class if I felt they were going to be inappropriate. (I’ve already read the curriculum our school currently uses, and don’t have problems with it, but it will be a while before my second-grader gets there, so things could change).

    How about you, Geoff? Do you have kids? What are things like in your local school system?

  12. Melissa on September 14, 2004 at 4:29 pm

    I heard the NPR story last night as I was driving home and found myself shocked, and I don’t shock easily. In my opinion the audacity of the lesbian teacher they interviewed cannot be overstated. I actually turned off the radio.

    In teaching sex education one need never be so explicit where children are concerned—whether discussing homosexual or heterosexual behavior. I would actually argue that one need never be that graphic and explicit whether one is talking to a child or an adult. I walked out of class at Yale (a class for which I was a Teaching Fellow, in fact) because the teacher decided without warning to show playboy centerfold images on the auditorium screen while discussing American sexuality. Some of my students complained to me that later on in the lecture the professor showed images of overt homosexual behavior. Some of my students were traumatized by this—and these were freshmen and sophomore students at Yale! Imagine what these kinds of “charts” would do to a group of 7 or 8 year olds? I just don’t think this is ever necessary.

    The NPR story was disturbing to me on another level too. I have been one who has really grappled with the legal, moraly and theological issues around this issue. I am often asked in the academic circles where I travel to explain the Mormon position on this issue. I’ve been called on in large classes to defend the LDS view, been asked to write papers, etc. In many ways I have found the LDS position troubling and difficult to defend in these circles, especially from a civil rights point of view and I often make this point. But, my research had begun to tip the balance for me—especially looking at Scandanavian marriage and family statistics where same-sex marriage has been legal for a decade or so. Still, the complexities of the issue caused me no little ambivalence.

    Then, I heard this report last night. Nothing could strengthen my position against same-sex marriage more than hearing about this kind of curriculum. To present homosexuality as a legitimate, equally praiseworthy option is deeply troubling. If, for various appropriate legal reasons we get to the point where we allow same-sex marriage that should not be same thing as embracing it as commendable. Of course, this is gets into the tricky question of whether or not all public policies are instances of legislating one’s own morality. Still, there are other relevant examples. Divorce is legal for good reasons but it is also a tragedy when it occurs. An elementary curriculum which teaches homosexuality in a way that not only explicitly describes its practices but encourages and celebrates such behavior is dangerous to our children because it fails to acknowledge the tragedy of the situation to them—never having children—being the most obvious and immediately relevant. I think we can teach our children about love and patience, kindness and tolerance without teaching them that everyone’s practices are equally productive of long-term happiness.

  13. Geoff B on September 14, 2004 at 4:41 pm

    Interesting to note that all three answers above mention “sex ed” in general and avoid delving into the difficult issue of sex toys and homosexual sexual positions, which is what the enthusiastic lesbian teacher is so anxious to discuss with her eighth graders on the NPR piece.

    I have no problem with a generic “birds and the bees” sex ed class that discusses how babies are made and shows the reproductive organs. That’s pretty much what I got in seventh or eighth grade many moons ago.

    I have two children, ages nine and six. I have not discussed sex with them at all, but I probably will take it up with my nine-year-old in the coming weeks. My discussion will probably be very embarrassing for my daughter, who, thank goodness, is still very innocent (she still turns her head and covers her eyes and says “yuck” when people kiss in G-rated movies). Florida schools, also thank goodness, would never dare discussing topics such as homosexuality around children, because these topics are rightly left to parents to discuss with their children.

    I find it difficult to believe that anybody could say they have no problem with a lesbian teacher with a picture of her “partner” on her desk discussing sex toys and homosexual positions with eighth graders, including their eighth graders. If this were happening in my kid’s school, my kids would be out of there in five seconds.

    Don’t we spend all of our time talking to our young men and young women about waiting for a temple marriage, making the right choice, being different than “the world?” How can we expect them to behave that way when they are overwhelmed by other influences in a society going wrong? Kaimi, I simply cannot accept that just because a kid is going to find out about these things on Maxim that it is OK for it to be discussed by an authority figure such as a teacher. I don’t think you even believe that. Kids are also going to have friends who tell them about alcohol and drugs as well — is it OK for a teacher to boast in class about the wonders of a new grade of cannabis and enthusiastically discuss his new bong?

  14. Kristine on September 14, 2004 at 5:03 pm

    Geoff, I would have a problem with a discussion of sex toys, whether it was from a teacher with a picture of her husband on her desk or a teacher with a picture of her lesbian partner. It’s the content of the discussion, *not* her sexual orientation that is the problem. I think some brief discussion of how homosexual people have sex could be appropriate, –I’d rather have them hear it in clinical terms from a teacher than read it in a Judy Blume novel (yeah, I’m dating myself :)). Eighth grade still seems young for that, though.

  15. Mark B on September 14, 2004 at 5:13 pm

    Melissa said:

    “If, for various appropriate legal reasons we get to the point where we allow same-sex marriage that should not be same thing as embracing it as commendable.”

    Aye, there’s the rub. By giving society’s imprimatur to the relationship, we necessarily are embracing it as commendable. We are going way beyond “defining deviancy down.” Instead, we are saying that homosexual relationships are morally equal to the relationship of husband and wife, and that the power of the state should be engaged to assist in the formation and the perpetuation (and, presumably, the termination, when things don’t work out) of such relationships.

    I think that large numbers, probably a majority, of Americans, are willing to tolerate others’ engaging in any number of activities that deviate from the norm, as they understand it. The number shrinks substantially when you ask how many are ready to embrace or give state sanction to such behavior.

  16. Matt Evans on September 14, 2004 at 5:22 pm

    I wrote this as a response to Kristine’s first comment. The discussion has moved on, so only read this if you care what went on above.

    (1) The story’s account of the activists preparing a gay-friendly curriculum segued imediately to the Lexington Elementary School’s meeting of “teachers, administrators, and activists brainstorming on how to construct a new teacher’s guide to deal with topics many had long been told to stay away from.” We then listen in on their meeting: “There’s a whole host of words here your average elementary teacher is afraid to use because they just don’t know what to say.” I don’t see anyway to understand that part of the story except to believe the teachers, administrators and activists at the Lexington Elementary meeting were creating a gay curriculum for their school.

    (2) The 8th grade teacher said, while making her chart “I’m going to draw some different activities . . . like different kinds of sex.” Maybe she’s using the word “draw” interchangably with “write,” but the common verbs are draw pictures and write words. The reporter noted that she used her chart to “thoroughly and explicitly” answer questions. Here’s the transcript:

    Allen says teaching about homosexuality is more important now, kids are asking more questions, like what is gay sex. Which Allen answers thoroughly and explicitly with a chart. “I’m going to draw some different activities, like kissing and hugging, and different kinds of intercourse.” Allen asks her students to fill in the chart with Yeses and Nos. “Alright, so, can a woman and a woman kiss and hug? Yes. Can a woman and a woman have vaginal intercourse? And they will all say no, but I’ll say, Hold it! Of course they can. They can use a sex toy, and they could do . . , and then we discuss that.”

    I agree that she may have “drawn” the words “vaginal intercouse” rather than a picture of vaginal intercourse, but that is basically a non-factor to me. I don’t want teachers teaching 8th graders how two women have vaginal sex even without line drawings.

    (3) I hope you’re right that NPR found the only teacher in Massachusetts teaching this, but she wasn’t presented as unusual. And even if she is the only one, she’s too many. It only took one teacher having a bible on their desk for the Supreme Court to rule that school teachers can’t have bibles on their desk. (Have to protect those indelible minds from knowing their teacher reads the bible!)

    (4) Parents should be concerned. Gay marriage was called a conservative bogeyman for years, but it’s happened. Now we’re seeing some of the predicted ramifications.

  17. Chad Too on September 14, 2004 at 5:33 pm

    Geoff,

    How about teaching your children that their school teachers are not spiritual leaders? Because they aren’t. Authority figures, yes, but I think it’s an unrealistic expectation that every word that proceeds forth out of a public school teacher’s mouth should correlate with our gospel-focused world view. I find myself highly skeptical of this push of the panic button. If my son were taught about gay sex in school, I’d remind him that we live by higher standards, and take the opportunity to re-discuss the plan of salvation with him.

    And I outright reject the idea that we are somehow we are automatons driven by media to mindless sinning. Yes, we encourage young people to temple marriage, etc. but to insinuate that young people can’t triumph over the lower standards that society can enforce is inaccurate. Thousands upon thousands of people (teenagers included) make valiant choices inspite of alternate societal influences. They live the higher law, and more and more join us every day.

  18. Kristine on September 14, 2004 at 5:41 pm

    “An elementary curriculum which teaches homosexuality in a way that not only explicitly describes its practices but encourages and celebrates such behavior is dangerous to our children because it fails to acknowledge the tragedy of the situation to them—never having children—being the most obvious and immediately relevant. I think we can teach our children about love and patience, kindness and tolerance without teaching them that everyone’s practices are equally productive of long-term happiness”

    So, Melissa, should we teach children that they should get married and have children, even if they are homosexual? The fact is that many people will not have children, and I’m not sure that teaching kids that that brute fact is a ‘tragedy” is very helpful.

    Moreover, unless you believe that homosexuality doesn’t really exist as a more or less (depending on which claims of the reparativists you want to believe) immutable fact for some small class of people, then any class which addresses human sexuality has to figure out some way to address homosexuality. If you don’t want to have the same standard for homosexuals as for heterosexuals (e.g. “sexual activity is blessed in committed, legally sanctioned relationships with a single partner”), then you have to come up with some way of explaining why homosexuality is to be treated differently. In a pluralistic society, that is going to be tricky.

  19. Geoff B on September 14, 2004 at 5:52 pm

    Kristine, it is amazing how un-tricky this issue could be if we were willing to stick to time-tested moral standards.

    Teacher: “Class, today we are going to discuss the birds and the bees. Here are some charts showing how reproductive systems work. Man and woman have a baby. These days, there are fertility drugs and other ways to help with infertility. Here are some warnings about STDs. End of class.”

    Student: “Teacher, what do you think about the moral issues regarding infidelity?”

    Teacher: “Traditional moral thought indicates that infidelity is a problem for societies. Having said that, this is a subject that you should really discuss at length with your parents.”

    Student: “What do you think about birth control?”

    Teacher: “Birth control is a controversial subject. Some people are against its use. Others are not. This is probably another subject you should discuss with your parents.”

    Student: “What about homosexuality?”

    Teacher: “See answer above.”

    Student: “What if I don’t have any parents?”

    Teacher: “Then discuss this with your legal guardian, aunts and uncles, priest, bishop or anybody else who you consider a moral authority. In a public school, we do not discuss moral issues like these because there are many different types of viewpoints, and we may be seen as advocates for one type of position or another. Class dismissed.”

    Sounds pretty simple to me.

  20. Kristine on September 14, 2004 at 5:54 pm

    Matt,
    I agree with you that the teacher’s discussion of sex was far too explicit for eighth graders. I fail to see how her homosexuality or Massachusetts’ legalization of gay marriage has anything to do with it (despite her saying that she feels on firmer ground because of the legal situation in Mass.). The fact is, that if a parent were unhappy about the discussion of sex toys, there’s no reason they couldn’t object on the simple grounds that that is too much information for 8th graders. And she admits that she taught the same things before the Goodrich ruling–the link just doesn’t hold up.

  21. Matt Evans on September 14, 2004 at 5:56 pm

    Chad too,

    I doubt you would have phrased your comment that way if your son came home saying his teacher taught him how to make ecstasy, and suggested its use was normal. What would you do in that case?

    I don’t believe kids are automatons, either, but we’ve put a lot of money in anti-smoking media campaigns, and they’ve had a big impact. Our kids valiant choices aren’t made in a vacuum, the baseline morality matters.

    Kristine,

    There are far more sexualities than hetero- and homosexual. My guess is that you’re idea on how youth should learn about less-common forms of sexuality will closely track my idea on how they should learn about less-common homosexuality.

  22. Chad Too on September 14, 2004 at 6:08 pm

    Matt,

    There’s a big difference. Ecstacy is illegal. Post-Lawrence, homosexuality isn’t. I’m with you in considering it immoral, but morality is a personal thing and not the government’s bailiwick. Your comparison is disingenuous.

    I’m not going to argue whether or not morality matters, because I believe it does. However, teaching the morals of sexuality is my job, not the public schools.

  23. Kaimi on September 14, 2004 at 6:09 pm

    Kristine,

    I agree that the sex toys aspect seems to be a red herring.

    Matt, would you approve of sex toys discussion if it were conducted in purely heterosexual terms? I assume you would. So you’re objecting to a level of specificity, not to the orientation.

    Would you object to a Q & A that was less specific? I.e.,

    “Can two women have sex?”
    “Yes.”

  24. Geoff B on September 14, 2004 at 6:23 pm

    Chad Too, you are 100 percent correct that teaching morals is your job, not the school’s. That’s why schools shouldn’t discuss these issues, just as I post above. That’s why Matt and many others are offended that other people are trying to impose their morals on us — through the schools. The only acceptable situation is to leave these issues completely out of the public schools. If private schools want to discuss sexuality — and if parents are willing to pay for it — then I say, send your kids there. Meanwhile, let’s concentrate on learning real subjects in the public schools, rather than propaganda in favor of a certain moral viewpoint.

  25. danithew on September 14, 2004 at 6:27 pm

    Kaimi,

    Are you talking about a general discussion of sex toys or a discussion of sex toys in an eighth grade classroom? Maybe I’m missing something here. If I had an eighth grader attending school, it wouldn’t matter to me whether we were talking about heterosexual sex toys or homosexual sex toys … I’d prefer they not be discussed in that setting at all. Actually I’ve not been highly aware of the differences in sex toy orientation but now I’m betraying my ignorance and naivete.

    Regardless, in my opinion, high school classes that deal with sexuality should deal with generalities and basics and should avoid any instructions on sexual technique, sexual positions, etc.
    As for the more general Q&A you talked about, I can see that happening in today’s world and I don’t find it as problematic — even in eighth grade. But I’m not sure I’d find it is something necessary to be taught. If the question came up, a simple yes or no would suffice.

  26. John H on September 14, 2004 at 6:28 pm

    Sorry, but as I reread all the comments in this thread, it does seem to be a chance for opponents of gay marriage to point to this *one* woman, this *one* example and say, “See! See! We told you this would happen and society would go to hell if we allow gay marriage!”

    I have yet to see a reasonable post responding to Kristine’s points that this is one woman promoting her own agenda who will not be accepted. It seems that people want to ignore this very important point so they can continue to promote an anti-gay marriage agenda, and feel justified in remaining outraged.

    I don’t think any of us are for showing sex toys and graphic pictures to 8th graders, regardless of the hetero- or homosexual nature of the discussion. To say “gays want to do this” when it’s one person is a way to fan the flames of anti-gay rhetoric and resort to the age-old argument that gays are just perverts and pedophiles.

  27. Matt Evans on September 14, 2004 at 6:31 pm

    Chad too,

    Ok, suppose drugs are decriminalized. Would you complain then if a teacher was telling kids its normal to use ecstacy and acid, and how they can make it?

    Kaimi,

    I liked Geoff’s approach to classroom discussions. (Comment 18).

    No doubt a lot of my outrage about the NPR story stems from my exposure to the ridiculous justifications the Supreme Court has used to strip all religious elements from schools (those indelible, maleable children). Your comment #8 was a great argument for teaching religion in schools; heaven knows lots of parents don’t do it! : ) A teacher can have a picture of their lesbian partner on their desk, but not a closed bible; can have gay rights posters on the walls, but not a quote from scripture; and can tell their students its normal to have lesbian sex, but not that God loves them.

  28. Kristine on September 14, 2004 at 6:31 pm

    Geoff, homosexuality is pretty clearly a biological issue as well as a moral one, just as heterosexuality is. I don’t think one can entirely refuse to discuss it in the public schools–at the very least, it would be necessary to present some scientific explanations (hopefully from competing scientists, since there is not yet anything like consensus on causality, malleability, etc.). Obviously, such a discussion would have to take place in high school, with students who have some significant understanding of biology and scientific method under their belts (good grief!–why does everything sound like a bad pun when one discusses this stuff?)

    Matt, a small point–in my limited Massachusetts experience, the use of “draw” (pronounced “drawr”) for “write” seems fairly common, especially when a blackboard is being written upon. At least our RS teachers regularly “drawr” on the blackboard instead of writing.

  29. John H on September 14, 2004 at 6:34 pm

    Geoff,

    In theory I actually agree that these things don’t belong in school – other moral standards should not be forced on your children. (I’m certain then you’re against school prayer – forcing moral standards on those who don’t believe in prayer, and all.) But the reality is many, many, children do not have parents who discuss these issues with their children. They rely on friends or the media to get their information. Can’t parents like you or I put up with sex ed in schools for these kids benefit, then correct any misinformation we feel is being passed on to our own children?

    I guess what I’m saying is, I’ll take the risk of having a teacher that goes too far and shares too much information with my kids – I can teach them correct principles at home – than have virtually no information and let many other kids get info about sex from friends and Friends (the tv show).

  30. John H on September 14, 2004 at 6:37 pm

    This discussion reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Mrs. Crabbapple tells Ishmael and Moses that “in accordance with your parents wishes, you may wait in the hall and pray for our souls,” during the sex ed video.

  31. Matt Evans on September 14, 2004 at 6:59 pm

    John H,

    Many people in the short NPR story were pushing that schools treat homosexuality and heterosexuality as equally valid, normal and healthy. Even if you are right, and hopefully so, that Deb Allen is Massachusett’s most outrageous sex ed teacher, there are still lots of people determined to teach our kids that something wrong is normal and healthy. I believe our sexuality is maleable, and partly socially constructed, and that as society gives increasing attention to sexual preference, it will be a terrible cause of confusion for and experimentation by youth struggling to find an identity and a peer group. There are so many kids cycling through peer groups — an athlete, then a skater, then a musician, then a hippie, then an outdoorsman — in a fruitless attempt to find themselves, that lots of them will make a stop at gay pride, hoping to find their true identity and group solidarity.

    I am actually concerned that the gay curriculum in schools is worse than it appears, because I know gay activists are being careful not to have too high a profile for fear the frog will jump (that point was even acknowledged by NPR).

  32. danithew on September 14, 2004 at 7:06 pm

    I swear T&S was kind of plodding along comment-wise (today) until the homosexuality issue came up.

  33. Kaimi on September 14, 2004 at 7:10 pm

    Matt writes,

    Many people in the short NPR story were pushing that schools treat homosexuality and heterosexuality as equally valid, normal and healthy.

    Umm, are you arguing that schools should treat homosexuality as _not_ as valid as heterosexuality? Yeah, that’s going to go over really well with the kids of gay couples.

    The fact is, schools are composed of lots of different kids from lots of different family, social, religious and moral backgrounds.

  34. danithew on September 14, 2004 at 7:16 pm

    People want more private Mormon universities. Maybe we need Mormon private high schools. It would be interesting to see whether there would be Mormon sex ed classes and what they would cover. Students, please turn to Song of Solomon, chapter 1, vs. 5.

  35. Kaimi on September 14, 2004 at 7:19 pm

    Matt,

    There is a discussion of the veracity of the boiling frog analogy, at

    http://www.snopes.com/critters/wild/frogboil.htm

  36. Ashleigh on September 14, 2004 at 7:52 pm

    I emailed three of my queer friends today (two of which are parents, and in a steady long-term relationship) to ask how they felt about sex toys and sex positions being taught in an eighth grade sex-ed class. Two were horrified by the idea, the third thought I was joking.

    Granted, in Idaho even the homosexuals are pretty conservative. But . . . still, I think Matt’s point is missing a few screws.

  37. Chad Too on September 14, 2004 at 8:11 pm

    Matt,
    If drugs are de-criminalized I’ll deal with that then. Right now, they’re not and your comparison remains disingenuous.

    Geoff,

    Nobody is forcing any morals on you. You can continue to believe that gay sex is wrong. Stand on the roof and yell it at the top of your voice. That’s your right. Feel free to teach that to your kids.

    As a government entity, that isn’t the school’s place. The mysterious “they” would be forcing “their” morals on you if they taught that your ideas of sexuality were evil. That isn’t what you have portrayed here. The moral imposition you highlight is yours, not the school’s. Instead, the schools present these things as options. The playing field is neutral. Your children may accept or reject any of them. That’s where we come in, guiding them as they make those choices.

    You still haven’t answered why you think you have any right to make the school adhere to your world view (among so many others) regarding sexuality.

  38. Matt Evans on September 14, 2004 at 8:25 pm

    Kaimi,

    Why would you or I want schools to treat heterosexuality and homosexuality equally? There are far more classes of people in the world than gays and straights, and lots of them have children. One example: there are far more kids with obese parents than with gay parents, but neither of us think schools should therefore treat obesity and fitness equally.

    Regarding the boiling frog, the veracity of the analogy isn’t disputed, even though frogs don’t actually behave the way the anecdote says they do.

  39. Kaimi on September 14, 2004 at 8:49 pm

    Matt,

    Why would you or I want schools to treat heterosexuality and homosexuality equally?

    How about the golden rule? If I were a gay parent, I certainly wouldn’t want my kid being told that my lifestyle was wrong or immoral.

    Regarding the boiling frog, the veracity of the analogy isn’t disputed, even though frogs don’t actually behave the way the anecdote says they do.

    Contraire. Or rather, why should we place any weight on an analogy that is based on wrong facts?

    On the other hand, if this analogy has something to tell us, why not use the real facts? You suggest, gay activists are being careful not to raise the water temperature too much lest the frog jump. And (to continue with your analogy, but substitute in correct science), should those gay activists make or seek to make the temperature unbearably hot, well, then the intelligent little frog will simply hop out of the pot. In no event will a frog be boiled. (The water starts up — perhaps your sex-toy story — the frog hops out, and no amphibians get hurt.)

    What does our frog analogy teach us? Some people argue that gay rights advocates are slowly changing the “temperature,” but the _real_ story of the boiling frog indicates that any advances by gay rights advocates will be stopped before they get to the point where they would do anyone any harm. As soon as the frog begins to feel a bit uncomfortable, he’ll hop. Therefore, there’s nothing to worry about.

    How’s that for a frog analogy?

  40. Geoff B on September 14, 2004 at 8:56 pm

    Chad Too,

    I find it difficult to believe that after the many posts I have had on this subject that you continue to think I am trying to impose my worldview on anybody. I am simply saying that all moral issues that are controversial (and it IS controversial given the amount of posts we have seen this very day on T&S on this issue) should stay out of the public schools. If you want to discuss sex ed, discuss sex ed, meaning discuss the reproductive process and the dangers of STDs. Anything beyond that is controversial and simply shouldn’t be a subject of discussion in the public schools.

    As for the argument that some people don’t have parents with whom to discuss these issues, I have addressed that above. Everybody has somebody they look up to. It is not the job of the schools to fill in these gaps — it is the job of the schools to educate children. Any time spent talking about sex toys is time that is not spent talking about an educational subject that is appropriate for children. End of discussion.

    Somebody asked how I feel about school prayer, and I would say that schools today in Florida have it about right. The kids say the pledge of allegiance, then they have a moment of silence. I encourage my kids to pray privately during that moment of silence. I would not be in favor of public schools leading kids in prayer, especially given that where I live most people are Catholic, not Mormon. Is there a generic prayer I might be in favor of? Perhaps, but private personal prayer is fine for now.

    Again, my line is very consistent — it is the job of parents, guardians, other family members to teach morals to kids. It is not the job of faceless bureaucrats and teachers. Teachers should concentrate on math, science, spelling, reading, arithmetic and good citizenship.

  41. Melissa on September 14, 2004 at 9:13 pm

    Kris,

    I can’t give a full response right now, but the verdict is still out for me about whether homosexuality is “an immutable fact” even “for a small group of people.” I think sexuality is at least partly (perhaps largely) socialized. So, when you say that “homosexuality is pretty clearly a biological issue,” I find myself doubting this and wanting you to produce a plethora of different kinds of scientific studes to back that claim up. Up to this point I haven’t seen anything that is very convincing scientifically on this issue. In some ways this question is the crux of the issue. Until the question gets resolved one way or the other these debates will be interminable.

    However, for the time being, since I think that sexuality is at least partly socialized I think it is dangerous to present homosexuality as an equally legitimate option to children. Middle School/Junior High School is notorious as a time of discovery and sometimes painful struggle to find one’s own identity. Kids are trying to find out who they are, where they belong, they are trying to fit in, to make friends, to form a separate identity from their parents at the same time that they are desperate for individual recognition and validation from their parents. On top of all of this they are going through puberty. Their bodies are changing. They are becoming aware of their own sexuality. On my view teaching sexuality in schools at this delicate and transitional season in an adolescent’s life in a way that legitimates homosexuality may actually lead many adolescents into self-identifying as homosexual unnecessarily or pre-maturely. Ultimately, I think this approach encourages sexual exploration, eventual experimentation for some and can lead to unhealthy confusion about one’s sexuality.

    And no, I don’t think that we should encourage people who feel like they are homosexual to get married and have children. But, neither do I think that we should take measures that will likely increase the numbers of people who describe themselves as homosexual. I think there are often (even if not always) psychological and emotional reasons why people identify themselves as homosexual. Like any belief that belief can be reinforced based on one’s thoughts and actions. I don’t mean to make this too simplistic. I have good friends who have struggled with this issue and I know the deep anguish of their hearts. I also know for some of them that at this point in their lives it would be a difficult thing for them to change—many of them have tried for years to change in fact. Having said that, after much reading and reflection I think that homosexuality is caused more than inborn and that therefore we should take great care when teaching impressionistic youth about sex and their bodies.

    Also—the issue of school curriculum is not limited to one activist and inappropriate school teacher in Lexington. A “gay-friendly” sex education curriculum from kindergarteners on up has been in the works in San Franscisco for years.

  42. Matt Evans on September 14, 2004 at 9:20 pm

    Chad too,

    The Supreme Court struck down the anti-drug laws this afternoon. Your child’s teacher is delightedly delirious, planning to tell his students tomorrow that he thinks using ecstasy and acid are fine, and how they are made. Will you complain to the school?

    And as for why parents have the right to tell schools which values they teach, that is a result of our democratic society. Our schools teach kids lots of moral values: cooperation, conservation, being drug-free, not using violence, not discriminating by race, playing by the rules, not stealing, respecting property, taking turns, sharing, treating others kindly, not using obscene language, properly covering the body, etc.

    There’s no objective reason why we don’t allow teachers or students to show their privates in class, it’s simply that a majority of parents like Geoff, you and me, say it’s a value that’s important to us.

  43. D. Fletcher on September 14, 2004 at 9:30 pm

    I’ve resisted weighing in here, partly because I have no children and therefore I believe my opinion really has little value.

    But if I had children, I think I wouldn’t want them to learn about sexual practices of any kind before they were good and ready (as young adults, probably). If sex must be taught in school, I agree that it should just be the clinical information, how the parts work, and so on. Teaching kids about homosexuality is no more or less appropriate than teaching them the missionary position or sado/masochistic acts — these are the choices of adults, as they should be.

    I won’t go so far as to suggest that teaching morality is appropriate in school. No teacher should aver that a man/woman marital relationship is fine and healthy, and others ones aren’t — these moral guidelines are up to the parents and the religious leaders.

  44. John H on September 14, 2004 at 9:36 pm

    Matt:

    I simply disagree that it’s a problem to teach that homosexuality and heterosexuality are equally viable options. Since I don’t believe it is a choice to be gay, then I don’t believe teaching students about homosexuality will open that choice for them. Every single study I’ve ever seen suggests that youth who are exposed to homosexuality aren’t any more likely to be gay themselves.

    Until evidence actually surfaces that shows the negative effects of gay marriage, everything is just conjecture. I personally believe the burden of proof is on those who want to restrict the rights of others by citing “threats to traditional marriage” and “threats on the family” that no one really can define or explain. Pointing to the Bible and telling me homosexuality is wrong and therefore shouldn’t be taught in schools is no different than someone pointing to the Koran and arguing that pork shouldn’t be served in public schools either.

  45. Bryce I on September 14, 2004 at 10:16 pm

    I’m late to this (if nine hours can be considered late) for a few reasons: 1) I had some work to finish up. 2) I’m still thinking. 3) Perhaps most importantly, I fear I will lose all credibility on this issue when I make the following disclaimer: I am a homeschooling parent. Never mind that our reasons for homeschooling have nothing to do with concern over our children’s moral education (at least not yet — our oldest is 6). Try to keep that in mind.

    Stepping back a couple of paces, here’s a worrisome scenario that I envision:

    1. The perception of the public schools by many conservative parents is that they are controlled by a liberal establishment intent on indoctrinating their children with a secular worldview that promotes a godless celebration of immoral lifestyles (overstating the case only slightly here).

    2. As gay rights activists push for and gain greater influence over the content of public school curricula, more and more teachers who are uncomfortable with teaching about gay issues leave the public schools, leaving for private or Christian schools, or leaving the profession altogether (this thought was triggered by the comments of one of the teachers in the NPR piece).

    3. As conservative teachers leave the public schools, public school teachers taken as a group move to the left, reinforcing stereotypes of teachers’ political views.

    4. Conservative parents increasingly seek alternatives to what they see as godless, evil government schools, through religious schools, secular private schools, or homeschools.

    5. Public schools lose funding as they lose students, causing a crisis in the public education system.

    6. I don’t know what happens next, but it’s not good. We end up with essentially two school systems — the public/liberal system and the private/conservative system, with the public system lagging behind the private system, and perhaps becoming ghettoized.

    I can hear some of you now: “You’re crazy, Bryce. Our country has been through all this before, and the public schools are still fine.” The schools have been the battleground for intense social debates before, most notably over civil rights for racial minorities, but the difference now is that more than ever, parents have viable alternatives to the public schools to which they can turn. The explosive growth of the homeschooling movement over the past ten years attests to this. If you didn’t want your kids attending integrated schools back in the 60s, your choices were to spend tons of money on a private school, fight like crazy to keep the schools segregated, or keep your kid out of school. Now, you can just keep your kid home.

    So am I crazy? I hope so, but I can see the scenario I describe unfolding right now. Even without the issue of SSM to fan the flames, the divide is growing. The Southern Baptist Convention had a resolution submitted to them this summer that read in part, “BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 2004 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention encourages all churches associated with the Southern Baptist Convention to provide all of their children with Christian alternatives to government school education, either through home schooling or thoroughly Christian private
    schools.” The resolution never made it to the floor, but it had a good deal of support (Link to Fox News story).

    Further disclaimer: I am not a Fox News watcher/reader. They’re the only major news outlet who seem to have covered the SBC in detail, however.

  46. Lisa F. on September 14, 2004 at 10:45 pm

    A young teen who had been through a rough childhood found a friend, a man who reached out to help him along. As feelings of love and friendship grew between the two, the youth began to wonder (since these feelings were truly new to him) if he was gay. The youth finally talked with his mentor about it, and it was this older man’s opportunity to give guidance and direction — in fact to help this young man define for himself what was going on inside.

    The definitions that we provide for our children matter. If we define homosexuality and heterosexuality as both equally possible and equally acceptable, then so will they. If kids who don’t have parents or caregivers to speak of “things as they really are” are left with the school’s teachings about sexuality, that curriculum matters a great deal.

    It has been said here that it doesn’t matter what the schools teach, as long as we teach what is right at home. In many cases that is true. But what about the kid who hasn’t been connecting with his or her parents very well lately?

  47. Fly Killa on September 14, 2004 at 10:45 pm

    The issue is that public schools are funded by taxpayer money, i.e. they belong to the public. If the majoirty of the public, particularly the parents of the children in the school, is opposed to aspects of a curriculum, then the curriculum should be changed. Controversial sex-ed curricula should not be forced on the public by a minority of bureaucrats.

    I’m sick of a having a tyranny of the minority. We do live in a representative republic after all and just because a small minority of people whine about their feelings being hurt about some policy or another does not mean the majority of us should be forced to accommodate them. Families will continue to flee the public schools until the bureaucrats that run the schools discover that their schools are failing without the input and support of the community.

    BTW, I’m a biologist and there is zero evidence supporting a biological basis for human homosexuality.

  48. Julie in Austin on September 14, 2004 at 10:59 pm

    I, too, hate to weigh in as the snooty homeschooling parent, but . . .

    whether the issue is sex ed, or anything else, we have a society with a diversity of opinion, the schools can’t really avoid taking a position on these issues (even without explicit sex ed., there are literature texts that either will or will not have stories about homosexual families. to omit the stories is a position itself, one that won’t sit well with most homosexual families). You really can’t win on these issues: nothing is fair to everyone. Not mentioning Christmas in the classroom is a slap in the face to Christians, celebrating it does the same to the Jews, Muslims, etc. These issues are, in my mind, inherently unresolvable if you care about the rights of minorities. I’m not sure where the public schools go from here.

  49. Julie in Austin on September 14, 2004 at 11:01 pm

    I posted at the same time as Fly Killa, and while I disagree with her (him?), I wasn’t suggesting that s/he doesn’t “care about the rights of minorities.”

  50. Matt Evans on September 14, 2004 at 11:10 pm

    Kaimi,

    I don’t believe you’re applying the Golden Rule correctly. Many parents have immoral lifestyles — they have gay sex, or abuse alcohol, or neglect their kids, or cheat on their spouse — but schools should not teach children that those decisions are valid. The Golden Rule doesn’t require schools to teach that abusing alcohol is no worse than abstaining, or that neglecting one’s kids is no worse than doting over them. To the contrary, the gospel requires us to teach the truth.

    I agree the frog analogy doesn’t work if one believes that morality is socially constructed. If morality is socially constructed, then once people come to accept a former wrong, it’s no longer wrong. However, since you and I do not believe morality is socially constructed, the frog analogy works great. It is the slippery slope, the thin end of the wedge, the camel’s nose in the tent, the foot in the door; it’s being led with a flaxen cord around their necks until he binds them with chains. This is why the modern prophets have repeatedly called upon us to work to reverse society’s immoral trends. This month’s Ensign message by President Hinckley is directly on point:

    Legal restraints against deviant moral behavior are eroding under legislative enactments and court opinions. This is done in the name of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of choice in so-called personal matters. But the bitter fruit of these so-called freedoms has been enslavement to debauching habits and behavior that leads only to destruction. A prophet, speaking long ago, aptly described the process when he said, “And thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell” (2 Nephi 28:21)

    John H,

    To my knowledge no one who researches sexual orientation believes it to be binary. Current theory holds that there are multiple dimensions to our sexuality, one of which is a spectrum with strong heterosexuality on one end, strong homosexuality on the other. Because people are scattered along the spectrum, there are many people who can be attracted by either sex, such as bisexuals. For people who can be pulled to either side, we should do what we can to pull them to the right side.

    Your statement, “Until evidence actually surfaces that shows the negative effects of gay marriage, everything is just conjecture,” is difficult for me to reconcile with your belief in modern prophets.

  51. diogenes on September 14, 2004 at 11:20 pm

    BTW, I’m a biologist and there is zero evidence supporting a biological basis for human homosexuality.

    With all due respect, and speaking as a scientist in molecular genetics, this statement is not the statement of a credible biologist. Science is provisional knowledge, and you can properly say that the evidence is inconclusive, or disputed, or flawed, or incomplete. You cannot credibly say that it is non-existent.

    When you do so, you speak not as “a biologist” but as an advocate. You may not like the evidence, or you may not find it persuasive or convincing, but your statement is not scientific, nor is it correct.

  52. Kaimi on September 14, 2004 at 11:23 pm

    Matt writes:

    I agree the frog analogy doesn’t work if one believes that morality is socially constructed. If morality is socially constructed, then once people come to accept a former wrong, it’s no longer wrong. However, since you and I do not believe morality is socially constructed, the frog analogy works great.

    Where on earth did you get this from, to “agree” with? I didn’t say anything of the sort. Please stick to my actual statements, even (especially?) if you’re intending to agree with me.

    The frog analogy is bunk because slippery slopes are a vastly, vastly overstated harm. The slippery-slopers — you included — would have us believe that the frog just sits there are lets himself get boiled. As shown through the Snopes link I provided above, that’s garbage. That site notes the work of an amphibian researcher:

    The ‘critical thermal maxima’ of many species of frogs have been determined by several investigators. In this procedure, the water in which a frog is submerged is heated gradually at about 2 degrees Fahrenheit per minute. As the temperature of the water is gradually increased, the frog will eventually become more and more active in attempts to escape the heated water. If the container size and opening allow the frog to jump out, it will do so.

    Like the real frog, people and society are perfectly capable of determining when they have had enough change. We can have sex ed, we can have schools that don’t tell kids that being gay is bad or wrong, and it’s quite possible that life will go on, the same as it always has. Those conditions don’t mean an inevitable decline into the parade of horrors.

    And like the real frog, of those conditions do somehow lead to problems in society, then we can change them back. We’re not on a predetermined slippery slope here. The frog analogy is wrong as a matter of fact and as an argument.

  53. Bryce I on September 14, 2004 at 11:28 pm

    Thinking some more, and inspired by Julie in Austin and Fly Killa’s posts, it seems to me that part of the solution for the public schools is for control over the schools to be returned to local school districts. The problem is that with specific statewide (and increasingly, nationwide) standards, local control over what is taught and how it is taught has steadily diminished.

    Julie is right to point out that nothing is fair to everyone, and Fly Killa is right to complain about the tyranny of the minority (which operates on both the right and the left). However, public schools would do a much better job of being fair to and pleasing more of their communities if they allowed for local control.

    I highly recommend Diane Ravitch’s book The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict what Students Learn. It’s a bit flabby, but the basic argument is sound: pressure from both the right and the left have created an regime of self-censorship among textbook publishers that results in bland texts incapable of presenting a reasonable picture of American society. The basic argument is as follows:

    1. Textbook publishing in the United States is dominated by four publishing companies, only one of which is based in the United States.
    2. The current state of affairs has come about because textbook purchasing is treated as a government procurement process, as opposed to having an open textbook market.
    3. The contents of textbooks are controlled largely by a very few people in Texas and California
    4. This is because Texas and California buy textbooks on a statewide level. Because of the size of these markets, textbook publishers design their books to meet the standards in these two states.
    5. Because books are bought on a state-wide level, instead of by individual school districts, the textbook industry is a high-risk/high-reward business in which small publishing houses have little chance of surviving
    6. Most non-textbook publishers welcome controversy over their books, since it generates interest and publicity for their books. In the textbook world, controversy is the kiss of death, as the textbook buyers do not want to invest millions of dollars in a product that will not be accepted.
    7. Publishers avoid controversy by implementing internal standards that aim to restrict content to only non-controversial topics
    8. These standards mirror the standards issued by state textbook purchasing boards, since they are designed to ensure that the textbooks are acceptable to the decision makers in Texas and California
    9. Since controversy of any type is to be avoided at all costs, any person or group willing to complain about the content of a textbook can have an influence on the future contents of textbooks. Textbook publishers self-censor to avoid controversy.
    10. Pressure comes from both the right and the left, giving textbook publishers very little safe ground.
    11. The result is that textbooks are watered-down, content-free, bland, boring products with no consistent point of view.

    If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. You don’t have to go read the book — I’ve given you the best parts of it. The point is that a few well-placed activists in Texas and California can have a tremendous impact on what your children learn in Massachusetts or North Carolina without you ever knowing about it, because the censorship regime is silent.

    The whole debate over sex ed, while interesting, is ultimately of little utility, as sex ed will always generate lots of attention and lots of debate. It’s the silent influences on public school curricula that are the most worrisome to me.

  54. John H on September 14, 2004 at 11:39 pm

    “Your statement, “Until evidence actually surfaces that shows the negative effects of gay marriage, everything is just conjecture,â€? is difficult for me to reconcile with your belief in modern prophets.”

    Matt:

    Just because Church leaders have made statements against gay marriage doesn’t mean they’re right. Church leaders have made strong statements against evolution and birth control. Do you agree with them on those issues? If not, why aren’t you following “modern prophets?” What about President Kimball’s strongly worded talk in the 70s on hunting? Do you agree with him? Are Church members who go hunting not following a modern prophet? Are mothers who work outside the home not following a modern prophet? What about Church members who get a vasectomy? How about Church members with beards?

    Matt, you know as well as I do that Church leaders have said many things over the years. Some of those things are out of touch and disappear over the years as new leaders embrace more progressive attitudes. I suspect that 100 years from now, statements on homosexuality will be viewed much like racist statements.

  55. Bryce I on September 14, 2004 at 11:57 pm

    While the liberal side of me nods in agreement with the sentiment of many of the comments expressed in this thread, one thing nags at me. I’ve seen the argument made several times here that it’s wrong for public school teachers to teach that homosexual activity is somehow wrong or deviant or not to be valued as highly as expressions of heterosexual sexuality. “The playing field is neutral” “How will the children of homosexuals feel?” (Sorry for not addressing specific comments — until T&S gets threaded comments, I’m not going to be able to reference stuff deep in a discussion).

    The problem is that the message of tolerance and diversity preached by the public schools is not value-neutral. Specifically, anyone who holds other views is deemed intolerant. Consider the following two presentations of attitudes towards homosexuality (I’m in a list-making mood tonight):

    1. There are people in our society who enter into homosexual relationships. These relationships should not be valued any more or less highly than heterosexual relationships. To do so would be intolerant and bigoted.

    2. There are people in our society who enter into homosexual relationships. Recently a growing segment of our society has accepted these relationships as equal in some way to heterosexual relationships. A majority of people still feel strongly that these relationships should not have equivalent status for religious and other reasons.

    It seems to me that (1) represents the expected public school response (and the sentiments of some posters in this discussion — please correct me if you feel I have mischaracterized you). However, (2) would be the true value-neutral response, one that seeks to be merely descriptive.

    I’m not saying that (2) is more appropriate than (1), just that (1) is no less normative than the position that homosexual relationships should not be valued by our society.

  56. Matt Evans on September 15, 2004 at 12:32 am

    Like the real frog, people and society are perfectly capable of determining when they have had enough change.

    Kaimi, slippery slopes are real. People can become desensitized, inured.

    Playboy was scandalous when it started 50 years ago for showing bare breasts. Less than thirty years later, explicit hardcore pornography was sold all over the country. Hardcore pornography now sucks up so much money that WSJ says Playboy’s struggling financially because they only peddle ‘softporn.’ Now why, since the demand for hardcore pornography dwarfs the demand for softcore pornography, didn’t Playboy simply start with hardcore pornography in the 1950s? They didn’t because they couldn’t. Hardcore pornography was only possible once Playboy got the camel’s nose in the tent.

    Around 1980, Rex Lee argued that the legal ideology undergirding the Equal Rights Amendment would lead to same-sex marriage. Last year the Massachusetts SJC proved him right, basing its gay marriage decision on the gender equality paradigm Lee rejected.

    But more importantly for us, the scriptures repeatedly warn of Satan’s use of the slippery slope. The devil:

    “leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever.”

    “and others will he pacify, and lull them away into a carnal security, that they will say, All is well”

    “leadeth them away carefully down to hell”

    “whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains”

    These scriptures show that people do sit until it’s too late.

    Finally, last year Eugene Volokh published a long article in Harvard Law Review explaining how slippery slopes work, “The Mechanisms of the Slippery Slope.” One of the mechanisms he identifies is “desensitization.”

  57. John H on September 15, 2004 at 12:38 am

    Bryce I:

    I agree with your sentiment, and concur that there really is no neutral way around teaching SSA in public schools. But from a legal standpoint (oh man, here I go again – bringing up the law when I’m surrounded by lawyers!) it seems that a free society should do its best to err on the side of equal rights. If gays are allowed to marry and have relationships, my own marriage and my own rights are not infringed on. No one has been able to demonstrate to me how my rights are diminished if gays marry. We can say all we want it’s immoral, it goes against God’s wishes, it’s unnatural, etc. But does it infringe on my rights in any way? Not that a soul has been able to concretely demonstrate. All we here is blustery talk of doomed families, war on traditional marriage, and other phrases that sound bold, rally the troops, but ultimately mean nothing.

    But on the flip side, if we deny gay marriage or gay relationships, we’re designating a portion of the population to inequal status. Now, if we want to change the law so that government doesn’t recongize marriage or unions at all, be they hetero or homo, then maybe we wouldn’t have a problem.

    I think whenever people want to argue that it’s ok to deny someone a right because they deem it harmful, then we need to look at how we would feel if the same thing happened to us. What if the day comes when people who are anti-religion tell us we can’t pray or congregate anymore? They provide is with lengthy lists of the evils religion has visited on the world – everything from the Crusades to 9/11. Laws are passed that make it illegal to hold Church meetings, or to pray with other people, even in the privacy of your own home. Suddenly, we’re the minority – we’re the immoral people for believing such foolish things that brings so much pain to the world. Should we get to have our rights taken away? Does our right to congregate or pray affect the rights of others?

  58. Matt Evans on September 15, 2004 at 12:54 am

    John H wrote, Just because Church leaders have made statements against gay marriage doesn’t mean they’re right.

    The Proclamation on the Family is not simply a statement of church leaders. It was a proclamation jointly produced by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It’s probably quoted in general, stake and ward conferences with greater frequency than all but a handful of scriptural passages. I don’t believe any of the counter examples you mention had the formal imprimatur of every apostle. And if the prophets aren’t prophets even when all fifteen of them jointly sign a solemn Proclamation to the World, when are they acting as prophets?

  59. Jack on September 15, 2004 at 2:17 am

    Friends, legalized SSM will be taught in public schools nation-wide. It will be touted as merely another perfectly acceptable familial institution. I’m a little troubled by the fact that even some of the best minds here at T&S are not willing to be instucted by the past. My sixth-grade(!!!) sex-ed “health” class was primarily about the mechanics of procreation. But, even as such, it was quite, well lets just say those images are burned on my mind forever. My H.S. sex-ed class had nothing to do with the basic procreative functions and everything to do with what men and women expected from each other in order to have a good sexual relationship. Granted, it seemed to be discussed within the context of marraige, but it was not limited to it. (this was in the 70′s) I remember watching a movie in class (you know, one of those old projector types) where in various young adults were interviewed on the subject of what they were looking for in a mate. Some wanted both themselves and their partner to be virgin at the time of marraige. Some wanted only their partner to be a virgin while they felt that it would be acceptible for themselves to have pre-marital sex. Others wanted there partner to have plenty of experience with sex before marraige so as to make things “smoother” in their relationship. As I look back on that experience the thing that I find most shocking about it is that it was all delivered in a very cold calculated manner. It wasn’t about right or wrong. It was only about exposure to sexuality. This is precisely how SSM will be treated in public schools – generally speaking. It *will* take it’s psychological toll on the innocent.

  60. Ebenezer on September 15, 2004 at 2:26 am

    Here is an interesting bit of related trivia.

    1923 Meyer v. Nebraska: Supreme Court struck down a Nebraska law that forbade the teaching of foreign languages before the 8th grade. The ruling was justified by a penumbral right “to marry, establish a home and bring up children.” The Court decided that if the parents wanted to commission an instructor to teach their children a foreign language it was their right.

    1925 Pierce v. Society of Sisters: Supreme Court declared an Oregon law forbidding parents from sending their children to private schools unconstitutional. The court identified a penumbral right “of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control.”

    1965 Griswold v. Connecticut: Supreme Court declared a Connecticut law that prohibited the use of contraceptives unconstitutional citing the penumbral “right to privacy” that had been previously established specifically in Meyer v. Nebraska and Pierce v. Society of Sisters. Based on these precedents the court declared that the penumbras of the enumerated constitutional rights created a “private realm of family life which the state cannot enter” without a compelling state interest. This penumbral “right to privacy” prevented the government from interfering in the private procreative decisions of a married couple.

    1972 Eisenstadt v. Baird: Supreme Court ruled that a Massachusetts law which prohibited the distribution of contraceptives to unmarried people was unconstitutional. The Court declared that Equal Protection demanded that the right to privacy in procreative decisions established in Griswold v. Connecticut had to be extended to unmarried people because rights belong to individuals, not to couples.

    1973 Roe v. Wade: Supreme Court struck down a Texas law prohibiting abortion and similar laws in other states. The Court said the law violated the 14th Amendment in that it violated the woman’s “fundamental” right to privacy as established specifically by Griswold and Eisenstadt, as well as other cases.

    1977 Carey v. Population Services Int’l: The Court declares a New York state law prohibiting the distribution of contraceptives to people under the age of 16 unconstitutional citing the precedents set by Griswold, Eisenstadt, and Roe.

    1986 Bowers v. Hardwick: Court upholds the anti-sodomy statues of Georgia explaining that the private conduct at question “is not a fundamental right” and explaining that law “is constantly based on notions of morality, and if all laws representing essentially moral choices are to be invalidated under the Due Process Clause, the courts will be very busy indeed.”

    1992 Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey: The court partially struck down and partially upheld a Pennsylvania law that restricted abortion. Citing specifically Carey and Griswold, among others, the Court declared, “It is a promise of the Constitution that there is a realm of personal liberty which the government may not enter” and that “our law affords constitutional protection to personal decisions relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and education.” The court declared, “Intimate and Personal choices, central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the 14th Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

    1997 Holmes v. California Army National Guard: Supreme Court upholds the federal statute banning those who engage in homosexual conduct from military service citing specifically Bowers.

    2003 Lawrence v. Texas: Supreme Court declares Texas Law proscribing homosexual sodomy unconstitutional and extends the definition of privacy by declaring “liberty gives substantial protection to adult persons in deciding how to conduct their lives in matters pertaining to sex.” The decision specifically cites the precedents of Griswold, Eisenstadt, Casey, and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, among others, to justify the decision The court also takes the opportunity to overrule Bowers v Hardwick declaring “Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today. It ought not to remain binding precedent. Bowers v. Hardwick should be and now is overruled.” All of the state and federal decisions that cite Bowers to justify the legislation of morality may now be called into question.

    2003 Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health: Massachusetts Supreme Court declares state laws prohibiting homosexual marriage unconstitutional citing specifically the precedents of Lawrence, Roe, Eisenstadt, Griswold, and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, among others, as justification.

    The irony is that the precedents being used to strike down laws against homosexual marriage, abortion, and other laws that legislate morality were derived from precedents intended to protect a parent’s rights to determine the upbringing and education of their children.

    The parental right to decide how you raise your children and how they should be educated–> becomes the parental right to decide whether to have children at all–> becomes the individual right to avoid having children–> becomes the woman’s right to terminate an already conceived child–> becomes the individual freedom from government interference in matters of marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and education–> becomes the liberty to decide how to conduct ones life in matters pertaining to sex and to marry whomever you desire.

    Now that’s what I call a slippery slope.

  61. Nathan Tolman on September 15, 2004 at 7:28 am

    John H.

    Your comment did little to address Bryce’s main point, namely (as I read it) SSM in many cases does not create neutrality but advocates a certain position. I would accept your argument if laws and rights existed independently of the culture in which they act, but they do not. SSM is a definite cultural statement that powerfully competes with established norms. Plus there are problems with someone saying laws should not have cultural influences. First, it would be impossible. Second, many laws could be seen as “cultural.” For example, pedophilia (BTW I am not trying to say all homosexuals are pedophiles in any way) has been practiced in many cultures, past and present, seemingly without harm. What we call “giving bribes to officials” is and was an culturally accepted practice in certain areas of the world.

    I have been fascinated by the push for same sex “marriage” as opposed to “civil unions.” It would grantee the rights homosexuals want, without threatening so many cultural sensitivities (and acceptance of civil unions poll higher). Yet, the push for marriage, as opposed to civil unions, means something. Perhaps they are asking for a statement of acceptance under the guise of tolerance.

  62. Mark B on September 15, 2004 at 10:15 am

    John H. said:

    But on the flip side, if we deny gay marriage or gay relationships, we’re designating a portion of the population to inequal status.

    As the Germans would say, “Ja, und?”

    Government is forever designating portions of the population as unequal. And there’s nothing at all wrong with most such classifications.

    The clearest and most common example is when the government through its judicial arm designates some people as convicted criminals, and limits the freedoms of those so classified.

    The point is not that government may not classify persons–it does it all the time. The 14th amendment’s equal protection clause says that government may not classify them on certain bases–race, alienage or nationality–but sex is not part of that list of banned bases for classification (see the selective service system, for example) and neither is sexual predilection.

  63. Bryce I on September 15, 2004 at 10:31 am

    Thanks, John H., for responding, and Nathan Tolman, for clarifying my point. I reread my three comments made last night: #44, which worries about the flight of conservatives from the public schools, #52, which describes the silent influence of pressure groups on textbook publishers, and #54, which points up the inequity of granting first-class status to homosexual relationships if people holding strong beliefs about the immorality of homosexual behavior are not granted similar status.

    John H, Nathan is right. I don’t think you’re addressing any of my points. I don’t think I’ve established a position regarding the issue of SSM in any of my public comments, although my comment in #52 sounds a little paranoid upon a second reading. My comments are more about the effects of the debate on our society, as reflected in the public schools, and the terms of the debate. I’m publically firmly uncommitted on the issue of SSM, although I will admit that I’m actually much closer to your position than you seem to think.

    My point in #54 was to show that it is inconsistent to argue that it is somehow “only fair” to present belief in homosexuality as a valid option in our society via the public schools without presenting opposition to SSM or homosexuality as a similarly valid belief. I’m not saying that presenting opposition to homosexuality as intolerance (implicitly or otherwise) is an inappropriate policy, just that it is not a neutral or unbiased stance, as some have claimed here.

  64. Ebenezer on September 15, 2004 at 10:48 am

    Bryce I wrote in comment #52:

    …it seems to me that part of the solution for the public schools is for control over the schools to be returned to local school districts.

    Thank you for pointing this out. Public Education could sure use a sizeable dose of the “principle of subsidiarity”, as it is called in Catholic thought.

  65. Jack on September 15, 2004 at 10:54 am

    Ebenezer: Marvelous comment!

    Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees. You’ve shown us the forest!

  66. Chad Too on September 15, 2004 at 10:56 am

    Tyranny of the minority, my Aunt Fanny. One important point was left out of the legal history listed above. When Griswold (I’m sorry, I’m not sure how to italicize, please forgive the style error) protected contraceptive access under rights of privacy, it didn’t force anyone to use contraception. When Eisenstadt allowed contraception to unmarried people, it didn’t force young singles to suddently start having unmarried sex in order to be in line with the law. Roe has been the law my entire fertile life and not once have I engaged in behavior that might put a woman in a position where she might consider an elective abortion. You are not tyrannized when others claim the right to a different path as long as you can still continue to live as you wish. Nobody in Massachusetts has to marry homosexually, nor were civil heterosexual marriages there dissolved once homosexual ones were allowed.

    Folks, having choices like these is the very thing we signed up for in keeping our First Estate. That some use their God-given free agency to choose evil was understood by all of us to be part of the plan. That’s why we needed a Savior, to redeem us from our fallen state. As a church, we will continue to teach by persuasion, long-suffereing, gentleness, meekness, and showing love unfeigned as required by D&C 121. People will respond and choose what is right in spite of the ability to do otherwise. That, my friends is what exalts us. If not, then Lucifer’s plan would have been acceptable before our Father.

    Society has used the force fo law to enforce morals in the past, and citizens have every right to challenge those prohibitions. In each of the cases presented above, the imposition of a societal moral judgment was scrutinized to see if it could withstand the standards of our Constitution and failed. Yet, you can still live those higher standards if you want to, you can still teach your children the higher standards if you wish. Your freedom to worship as you see fit, to not engage in gay sex, extra-marital sex, abortion, or to not use birth-control are still protected.

    If gay sex is presented in schools as one of many lifestyles, it is then my job to help my son and the Youth I work with to know that in the eyes of God that choice is not acceptable and has eternal consequences.

  67. Jack on September 15, 2004 at 10:56 am

    Comment # 59 that is.

  68. Jack on September 15, 2004 at 11:07 am

    “Folks, having choices like these is the very thing we signed up for in keeping our First Estate. That some use their God-given free agency to choose evil was understood by all of us to be part of the plan.”

    Then let’s legalize everything.

    “You are not tyrannized when others claim the right to a different path as long as you can still continue to live as you wish.”

    Ah, but there is a bit of tyranny in the classroom wouldn’t you say? Especially when some parents don’t have enough sense to know that there are educational alternatives for their children.

  69. Kaimi on September 15, 2004 at 11:26 am

    Ebeneezer,

    I’m not sure what to make of your slippery slope discussion. First, are you saying that Meyer, Pierce, et al were wrongly decided, because they created a slippery slope that led to Goodridge? That’s an incredibly strange argument: “Courts should permit laws that prohibit foreign language instruction — if they don’t, we’re on a slippery slope directly to gay marriage!”

    Second, your choice of dots to connect seems very strange. You’ve got Pierce, and Meyer, and Roe, but you somehow left out the single most important antecedent of Goodridge, which is Loving v. Virginia. It is crucial to the Goodridge holding, take a look at the opinion which explicitly relies on Loving. Another major antecedent is Zablocki v. Redhail; again, take a look at the Goodridge opinion. The Mass. court does not say “Pierce, Roe, therefore Goodridge.” The most direct precedent being applied is Loving v. Virginia. (Pierce and Meyer are mentioned in passing as not going against the Goodridge holding; Roe and Griswold are mentioned as authority, but not relied upon nearly to the extent of Loving).

    So, if slippery slopes are a valid way to see things, then perhaps Loving v. Virginia was a bad case. Better to prevent interracial marriage, then to hop onto the dreaded slippery slope leading to same-sex marriage and the destruction of life as we know it. Right?

  70. Chad Too on September 15, 2004 at 11:43 am

    Jack,
    Thnks for the gross oversimplification. Of course, as a society we have to have some rules. I’ve already admitted that many of those rules are based in prevailing morals. Those based in sound legal reasoning that go above and beyond mere morals will stand. Those with no such backing will not.

    Sorry, but I can’t take any more time on this today. I’m making Rosh Hashanah dinner for guests (my best friend is a convert to the Church of Jewish heritage) and I’ve got matzo balls to make and several chickens to boil all the flavor out of. Stockpot, here I come!

  71. cooper on September 15, 2004 at 11:51 am

    Interestingly enough the comments that really stand out here are not from the attorneys. I don’t really believe Matt’s topic is a knee jerk response to stimuli. It is thought provoking and gives us all reason to pause and consider the ramifications and possible consequences of choosing to “not foist our beliefs on others”.

    D. Fletcher’s response was the obviously from the most objective of all responders. His answer is fair and balanced. I appreciate him, for weighing in, especially taking his background into consideration. Thank you.

    Fly-killer – good to see you post-. I agree with your view of it being taxpayer money funding public education. The ability of small interest groups to give voice to their agenda’s through these types of tactics are what tells me to make sure my grandchildren are in private schools.

    One interesting caveat into the tax-paying argument: Next April many SoCal districts will be voting to amend the state’s constitution. What is being asked is to allow all tax paying individuals the right to vote in elections that could affect their children. What? – A lot of the school districts in So Cal are 50 to 70% minority population with parents being legal and illegal residents, not citizens, and cannot vote, therefore they have no voice to address the needs of a large sgement of the school population. They believe this is taxation without representation. This is a valid concern, however I am not sure that giving them the right to vote in special elections or school board election is the way to have them represented.

    All the other comments speak to the broad brush approach to dealing with sensitive issues. We cannot control what the world will choose. But we are asked to stand as a witness, at all times, in all places, and in all things. Maybe if a few more of us would concern ourselves with the general population, instead of “just our” children, we could make the world a better place, The Gospel, truly does not harm anyone. We can love one another while still providing an example of righteousness, and possibly give a parentless child an anchor to cling to for guidance.

    Also the question was asked early on – what is being taught in your schools? Well, we became very famous a few years back. We were teaching abstinence and our school district board president was on CNN three times talking about the abstinence cirriculum. Interestingly enough, teen pregnancy for our district is now at an all time low.

  72. Jack on September 15, 2004 at 12:35 pm

    Chad too: I think your use of the doctrine of agency is misapplied – nothing can rob us of our moral agency, therefore let come what may – is what it sounds like to me, unless I’m reading you wrong. Perhaps we should’ve let the British have their way instead seceding from the commonwealth. What the heck? We would still have moral agency.

  73. lyle on September 15, 2004 at 12:37 pm

    The answer seems deceptively simple.

    1. If the gospel is true, and obedience brings prosperity & blessings; and
    2. Fukuyama has any sense, and trust/morality are the base of successful, economic societies:

    then good folks should simply move away from states that encourage sinful & immmoral behavior.

    Let MA have gay marriage, gay sex ed, etc. Let MA “heat the water” to a boil. MA thus serves as a useful moral & social firewall for the rest of the nation.

    Of course, for those bleeding hearts out there…you are condemning the poorest, those that can’t vote with their feet (cuz they lack a sufficient pocketbook), to living in a Soddom Society.

  74. Kristine on September 15, 2004 at 1:24 pm

    “Interestingly enough, teen pregnancy for our district is now at an all time low.”

    As it is for many school districts across the country, regardless of the curriculum they’re using…

  75. Ebenezer on September 15, 2004 at 3:00 pm

    Kaimi,
    You are right. I should have mentioned Loving v. Virginia and Zablocki v. Redhail.

    1967 Loving v. Virginia: The Court struck down a Virginia statute designed to prevent marriages between persons solely on the basis of racial classifications. The court declared that the statute violated the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

    1978 Zablocki v. Redhail: Court invalidates a Wisconsin law which required individuals with legal child support obligations for a child not in his or her custody to obtain permission from the state before marrying. The court cited specifically Loving, Griswold, and Carey and directly quotes Carey‘s citation of Eisenstadt, Pierce and Meyer.

    As I understand the decision, Goodridge‘s application of Loving‘s Equal Protection is inextricably dependent on Zablocki‘s connection of Loving with Griswold and Carey which in turn depend on Griswold‘s use of Meyer and Pierce and Carey‘s use of Eisenstadt, Pierce and Meyer, the latter being specifically cited in Zablocki.

    I think that Meyer, Pierce, and probably Griswold were decided correctly. In my opinion, Eisenstadt was not. The penumbral rights identified in Meyer, Pierce, and Griswold belong specifically to the institution of the traditional family and relate directly to its procreative function and the associated parental rights. Eisenstadt took these rights and divorced them from the family and misapplied them to individuals. Eisenstadt was the facilitating precedent in Roe, Carey, Lawrence, and Goodridge. On a social and cultural level, Eisenstadt‘s legalization of the sale and distribution of contraceptives to unmarried persons was also the catalyst for the unhitching of many traditional mores of society because it divorced sex from marriage and procreation and separated promiscuity from its natural consequences.

    As an aside: As I am sure that Kaimi can already tell from my lack of proper legal jargon…I have absolutely no legal training or education. Of all of the things that I am, a lawyer is not one of them.

    Also, Chad Too, you can italliciize by placing <i></i> HTML tags around words like this: <i>Bowers v. Hardwick</i>

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