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Christianity, Politics

Tennessee’s “Speak No Gay” law: Denialism At Its Worst

Sen. Stacey Campfield, a Republican from Knoxville, doesn’t want children to know gay people exist, and he’s willing to go to the legislative mat to defend his denial of reality.  His bill, which is showing every sign of imminent passage, would prohibit mentioning the existence of anything other than heterosexuals to students below the ninth grade.

Supporters of the bill claim that it’s “neutral” because it allows families to decide for themselves when their children will be made aware of homosexuality and other “alternate” sexualities.  In reality, it’s one of the worst kinds of discrimination.  By essentially “legislating gays out of existence,” it has made the question of equal treatment less than irrelevant.  How can a group that doesn’t exist possibly be treated poorly?

This is an important legislative battle to fight, but it’s more than that.  This story is a microcosm of the American Christian worldview, and an indictment against denialism.  The fact — THE FACT — is that homosexual people exist.  The fact is that humans are not uniquely gay.  If anything, we’re less sexually diverse than many animals.  Homosexuality, bisexuality, transexuality, and virtually every other human “alternative sexuality” exist in abundance in the animal kingdom, and there’s not a single example of anything detrimental happening to any species because they are not exclusively heterosexual.

These are the scientific facts, and they are an integral part of any accurate biology education.

Reality is Whatever I Say It Is!

 As I said, this is representative of a predominant worldview in Christian America.  The mantra is simple:  If we legislate the reality we would like to be true, it will become true.  If we refuse to teach evolution, the evidence will go away.  If we never discuss homosexuality, nobody will be gay.  If we ignore America’s spectacular descent to third world levels of education, health care, and income gaps, free market capitalism will work.

In some ways, 21st century America is a first in history.  Never before has science so completely refuted religious dogma, and never before has the body of evidence been so immediately accessible to the average citizen.  The political religious revival which began during the Cold War and has been steadily growing in strength since the late 70s represents at one time the most vitriolic First World religious movement and the most emphatically denialist.

One can almost forgive a great deal of the religious fervor in the past.  There have always been substantial gaps in the body of scientific knowledge.  Before the discovery of evolution and later, DNA, it was not entirely unreasonable to suggest an act of intelligent creation.  Before homosexuality was documented in thousands of animals, before we mapped the Big Bang, before we invented fMRI, before we found the building blocks of DNA all over the cosmos…

The list is beyond extensive.  The advances we’ve made in the past fifty years have forced religious zealotry out of the realm of impassioned faith and squarely into borderline psychotic denialism.  No longer can we excuse draconian religious declarations as good-hearted disagreement.  Religion in today’s politics is nothing less than a blatant attempt to strong-arm the will of a bigoted and xenophobic minority into law.  It is an elitist and horrifyingly naive Utopian miasma.  

Tennessee’s schoolyard version of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” represents a wake-up call to Americans.  More importantly, it represents just the latest in what should have been a long series of wake-up calls.  The Religious Right has made it abundantly clear that they are not concerned with reality.  They are concerned with their own elitist agenda, and they do not care what evidence or whose civil rights they trample in the process.

There is simply no excuse for allowing this to continue.  By all accounts, religious fundamentalists account for less than 40% of the population.  It is intolerable that these people have captured enough of the American legislative body to pass anti-science, anti-gay, anti-education laws in multiple states, and to gain real momentum in support of a discriminatory Constitutional amendment.

The worst part of it all is that we are to blame.  We who have not attended city council meetings armed with scientific evidence.  We who have shrugged politely and deferred to people’s “private religious views.”  We who have refused to stand up for our beliefs because we are “agnostic” and don’t want to act like the religious people by… you know… voting with our feet.  We who sit smugly in our comfortable atheist meetups griping privately amongst ourselves while religious activists raise hundreds of millions of dollars for the express purpose of taking over the government.

This is the bed we’ve made for ourselves, and it will not get more comfortable until we recognize the severity of religious denialism and admit that it has no place — no place at all — in a civilized political debate in an alleged First World democracy.  We have the privilege (for now) of standing up en masse and spearheading a movement to bring rational discourse to politics, but it will not happen until we make our collective voices clear:  We will not accept heavy handed 19th century scientific illiteracy as a substitute for genuine bipartisan political discourse.

Discussion

47 thoughts on “Tennessee’s “Speak No Gay” law: Denialism At Its Worst

  1. Awwww….Are the poor little queer agendists upset over the a state deciding that its Liberal teachers can’t indoctrinate children into believing that fagottry is acceptable behavior among sophonts?

    BTW you’re argument about lesser species engaging in it making it OK is disgusting. The mating practices of many of those species amounts to rape by human standards and, by your less-than-fully-human measure, that’d be A-OK too or, at least normal…

    Posted by jonolan | May 1, 2011, 6:26 pm
  2. Well… thanks, Jonolan. You’ll be happy, I think, that I have absolutely nothing to say about your comment. But thanks for reading, and stay tuned. I’ll be saying plenty of things in the future to threaten your homophobia with uncomfortable facts.

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | May 1, 2011, 6:51 pm
  3. The false assumption here is that to discuss homosexuality one requires a discussion of sex. My boyfriend and I know several couples with children and there has been no need to discuss sex with children in order to explain adult relationships. Is it common practice in the homes of the naively stupid people that support said legislation to tell their children the intimate details of their relationship? Or do they use words like “love”, “like”, “hug”, “kiss” to describe their relationships to their kids?

    I’d like to have kids someday like many successful gay parents. I imagine no need to discuss the intimate side of my relationship to explain that daddy has feelings for daddy (or papa). We’ll discuss names when the time comes. :)

    Posted by MKandefer | May 1, 2011, 7:59 pm
  4. Jonolan:

    What’s wrong with homosexuality? What’s wrong with two people who love each other making each other happy?

    Posted by nigelTheBold | May 2, 2011, 8:56 am
  5. “BTW you’re an idiot” is a correct sentence.

    I would have let jonolan’s comment slide, but for his attempt at intelligence with words like “sophont” while at the same time failing at basic grammar…

    Posted by Alex Hardman | May 2, 2011, 9:36 am
  6. I would have let jonolan’s comment slide, but for his attempt at intelligence with words like “sophont” while at the same time failing at basic grammar…

    I had the same thought. But hey, we all make mistakes from time to time, and even if his grammar was perfect, he’s still a hateful homophobic person.

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | May 2, 2011, 11:01 am
  7. But to seriously attempt intelligence while failing in such a basic way is offensive in ways that go beyond his homophobia. Such low level stupidity should offend even his fellow bigots.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | May 2, 2011, 12:31 pm
  8. But to seriously attempt intelligence while failing in such a basic way is offensive in ways that go beyond his homophobia. Such low level stupidity should offend even his fellow bigots.

    Oh, I have my own opinions about his level of intelligence. But one gaffe doesn’t give me enough evidence to prove it ;-). Although I do suppose it proves that he’s not a thorough enough person to proof-read. And perhaps that same level of indifference to methodology might have something to do with his odd conclusions about homosexuality.

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | May 2, 2011, 12:37 pm
  9. Has anybody read his blog? I put him in the category too stupid to use computer.

    Posted by cptpineapple | May 2, 2011, 9:15 pm
  10. Can’t say that I have, Alison. Are you suggesting he has a ghost-writer computer geek who is sentient enough to post comments and take dictation, but incapable of reasoning through the stupidity of the content?

    Or perhaps he is smart enough to pay someone enough to post his drivel, regardless of its intelligibility?

    There are so many possibilities…

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | May 2, 2011, 9:29 pm
  11. Yeah, I poked around his blog. Typical “I hate Obama but it’s not because he’s black or anything” Republican.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | May 4, 2011, 7:13 am
  12. What is a sophont?

    Posted by Alex SL | May 7, 2011, 6:23 am
  13. A sophont is an intelligent being. Ironic, no?

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | May 7, 2011, 1:14 pm
  14. I totally agree.
    You know… I also intend to shelter my children from the existence of black people and those damn mentally handicapped.

    Posted by MAT | May 8, 2011, 7:00 pm
  15. Dear Citizens,

    This is a blatant infringement on free speech. Period.

    What do you do when, heaven forbid, a student mentions homosexuality. What happens? Would this mean that the little girl with two moms can’t talk about her family? Or the kid who was taken out of an abusive foster home and adopted by two loving fathers?

    In the last few months the news has been filled with the terrible and saddening news of gay teens across the world, some of which were as young as thirteen years old. These -children- were abused and tormented by their peers, and if you create a system which blatantly denies even the concept of homosexuality – then where are these kids going to run to? This last October a fourteen year old from my former high school killed himself. Fourteen. Do you know why, because there was nowhere for him to go to.

    This is not about furthering an agenda. This is about protecting these kids. It is about our rights as citizens – which in lieu of who we love, seems to be forgotten. This is an absolutely disgusting abuse of the law.

    I grew up in a place where my family did not tell me about homosexuality. I learned nothing from being in school. So, how I learned to deal with my feelings was to hate myself. But, then again this is all to “protect” our children, right? I mean as long as you can cover your eyes and plug your ears, I don’t exist, right?

    This is a pathetic law that is destructive to society. It’s not homosexuality that is threatening freedom and the American way – it’s homophobia. But I guess under this law, homophobia does not exist either, because we would actually have to be a group in order for someone to hate us. That’s just quaint.

    Cheers,

    a “faggot”

    PS: Jonolan, look up Catherin MacKinnon – by some standards ALL sex is rape. It’s all about perspective. I am not going to make any remarks on your intelligence or writing ability, because I think both can be encapsulated with looking at your response alone.

    Posted by Spencer Smith | May 13, 2011, 11:22 pm
  16. Thanks so much, Spencer. That was a very eloquent way of putting things.

    This is not about furthering an agenda. This is about protecting these kids. It is about our rights as citizens – which in lieu of who we love, seems to be forgotten. This is an absolutely disgusting abuse of the law.

    I’m perfectly happy admitting to an “agenda” if that agenda is NOT allowing an agenda. But this is what the Christians have done… for as long as there have been agendas and Christianity. They implement their own agenda — aggressively — and anyone who opposes them is accused of an agenda.

    What is it exactly that us evil secularists doing?

    Trying to stop anti-gay legislation from passing. (Stopping an agenda)
    Trying to stop faith based initiatives from diverting public money to religion. (Stopping an agenda)
    Trying to stop the inclusion of religion in science text books. (Stopping an agenda)
    Trying to stop the imposition of religious sexual values into the media. (Stopping an agenda)
    Trying to stop the jails from preventing inmates from reading. (Stopping an agenda)
    Trying to stop the supreme court from being loaded with pro-Christian activists. (Stopping an agenda)
    Trying to stop states from enforcing illegal religious tests for office. (Stopping an agenda)

    I could go on and on. But the point is well made. Our “agenda” is to stop the avalanche of agenda items coming from the elitist religious right.

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | May 14, 2011, 2:29 pm
  17. Great point, Mat. This law sets a dangerous, dangerous precedent. In explicit terms: “If our religious agenda doesn’t like you, we can legislate you out of existence.”

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | May 14, 2011, 2:30 pm
  18. sigh. 9 post devoted to how stupid the first poster is…

    Posted by Ethan Blue | May 17, 2011, 5:27 pm
  19. Living Life Without a Net

    This is an important legislative battle to fight, but it’s more than that. This story is a microcosm of the American Christian worldview, and an indictment against denialism. The fact — THE FACT — is that homosexual people exist. The fact is that humans are not uniquely gay. If anything, we’re less sexually diverse than many animals. Homosexuality, bisexuality, transexuality, and virtually every other human “alternative sexuality” exist in abundance in the animal kingdom, and there’s not a single example of anything detrimental happening to any species because they are not exclusively heterosexual.

    This has nothing to do with denialism and everything about protecting the innocence of children….at least that what the Senator believes. He knows that children will learn about homosexuality eventually, he just doesn’t want th.e state to have any part of it. Don’t take it personally.

    Posted by Ethan Blue | May 17, 2011, 5:30 pm
  20. Spencer Smith

    This is a blatant infringement on free speech. Period.

    No, it would be an infringement on free speech is if teachers couldn’t mention homosexuality in their own homes. Teachers are paid by the government so the government has a say in what teachers say and do in the classroom.

    Posted by Ethan Blue | May 17, 2011, 5:36 pm
  21. So Ethan, do you believe children need to be protected from the concept of homosexuality?

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | May 18, 2011, 3:29 am
  22. Denialism? Really? Let’s talk denialism: 1)Homosexuality is healthy and enhances society. 2) The Catholic Church is responsible for the pedophilia and child molestation, not the homosexuals who became priests and carried out this behavior because of their homosexuality. 3)Athiests deny the realities borne out by medicine and science, even though everything in real scientific data proves there IS a God. 4) If you’re against gay marriage, that automatically makes you a “homophobe”. 5)AIDS is NOT a gay disease, even though it affects primarily MSM population, and some innocent heteros have been made to suffer for it, but that’s just coincidence. That’s just for starters. Wasted brain cells on this “writer’s” garbage because of a link at a website; realizing not only is this writer espousing junk, twisted PSEUDOintellect philosophy, but this website is dedicated to insulting people of faith. Garbage writer, garbage concept, garbage website. There’s certainly no denial about that :)

    Posted by Tam | May 18, 2011, 7:18 am
  23. Denialism? Really? Let’s talk denialism: 1)Homosexuality is healthy and enhances society.

    Thanks for your comment, Tam. This is an interesting thing for you to say, and it points to a kind of thinking that defines so much of religious thought. A thing is either black or white. One or zero. On or off.

    How about this? Homosexuality is a normal part of the human animal. It neither destroys society nor elevates it in any grandiose ways. It is just the way that some individuals feel about other humans.

    2) The Catholic Church is responsible for the pedophilia and child molestation, not the homosexuals who became priests and carried out this behavior because of their homosexuality.

    Pedophilia is a very specific condition, and has no correlation to homosexuality. (Check the DSM-IV.) Pedophilia is sexual attraction to pre-adolescents.

    Both homosexuality and pedophilia existed before the Catholic Church, so it would be daft to suggest that the Church is responsible for either. However, the church has institutionalized celibacy for adult males, which IS daft. As a result, men who were afraid of their sexuality have gravitated to the priesthood.

    In the case of homosexuals, it’s been a fairly benign outlet for gay men to carry on consensual adult relationships “off the radar.” For pedophiles, it’s been a crime against humanity, giving them routine frequent access to children who believe them to be the ultimate in moral authority. I can think of no greater sin.

    3)Athiests deny the realities borne out by medicine and science, even though everything in real scientific data proves there IS a God.

    Well… the Nobel committee is waiting for your proof. Let me know when to look for it.

    4) If you’re against gay marriage, that automatically makes you a “homophobe”.

    Not necessarily. But if you are against gay marriage, you are by definition a bigot.

    5)AIDS is NOT a gay disease, even though it affects primarily MSM population, and some innocent heteros have been made to suffer for it, but that’s just coincidence.

    Let’s follow your logic. Sickle cell anemia is a black disease. In some parts of Africa, one in five people carries the gene. When two people who each carry the gene mate, there’s a one in four chance that their offspring will have the disease.

    Are we to assume that God has punished black people for being black by giving them their own disease?

    In reality — the one made of statistics, not rhetoric — victims of AIDS are nearly split down the middle:

    Sickle cell is much more focused in the black population. So… are you a racist as well as a bigot?

    Garbage writer, garbage concept, garbage website. There’s certainly no denial about that

    Thanks so much for your comment. Be careful though… if you comment again, I’ll know you’re still reading…

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | May 18, 2011, 12:09 pm
  24. I wonder how long it will be until we hear about Mr. Campfield being arrested in a mens bathroom somewhere crusin for sex. Just looking at his pic pegs my gaydar out at about a 9 out of 10.

    Posted by Peach | May 20, 2011, 8:46 pm
  25. I posted this link on my Facebook page, and my uncle had the BEST reply: “If it works, let’s try a ‘Speak No Republican’ bill next…” LOLLOL!

    I live in NC – unfortunately, yet another of the Bible belt, though I otherwise love the state – and our public school system teaches abstinence is the only form of birth control. I find this quite comparable.

    Because I completely disagree with that kind of teaching, I’ve made it a point to provide my children with the information in which the school system is sorely lacking. It seems that if more of this ridiculous stuff starts coming down the pike, parents will be more and more required to educate their children properly to bring them up with MORE of an open mind, and full acceptance of others as they are… contrary what many in the conservative side to it all seem to be pushing on their agendas.

    Yes, we are at fault for not sticking our feet in the mud to get involved. However, I will say that I have realized that I have to choose my battles in the political arena… because unfortunately, those in politics have almost ensured the ignorance and omission of “the common people” in this process because of how challenging and time-consuming it has been made to make a difference. Bills are “slipped in” to fit someone’s agenda, presented with one focus when there is an ulterior motive completely… who has the time to read ALL of it? How do you know WHEN something has that tricky verbiage under the covers without reading every bill that passes through?

    Plus, the gargantuan effort it takes to change the flow once it’s started… been there, done that… and it sucked up all of my time, over one issue or another. ONE. AT. A. TIME.

    Much of the time, the public doesn’t get to see it in mainstream until it’s almost too late. The message from the Hill: DON’T MESS WITH OUR SYSTEM.

    Back to the point: So, since this bill would will anything but heterosexuals out of existence, what about the children who are actually being brought up in “alternative” families? Will they not be able to talk about their summer vacation when they return to school? Will they not be able to have their mommies or daddies attend school events, because other children might :::gasp::: ask questions? Boy, that just opens up the world to many more adolescent and young adult issues.

    I really, really think I agree with my uncle… and actually expand the thought to proposing a bill called “Speak No Politician”! It might actually give us the opportunity to progress instead of regress… :-)

    Posted by Angela | May 24, 2011, 10:30 am
  26. This is the worst abomination of humans at it’s best. this guy needs to be eliminated from anything that has to do with making decisions for humans…he is a poor example of someone that should be defending the rights of humans…get rid of this asshole

    Posted by John Groesse | June 12, 2011, 4:44 pm
  27. there is no evidence of evolution; it’s still just a theory!

    Posted by Joe Budd | June 14, 2011, 9:07 pm
  28. I don’t think that schools should be teaching any kind of sexuality whether it be heterosexuality or homosexuality. That should be taught at home, especially to young impressionable kids. I disagree with the author who states that if it isn’t taught or mentioned in schools it must mean that it doesn’t exist. Finance isn’t taught in schools either but it exists and affects everyone. In fact kids learn all about sexuality from their peers, not in the classroom. This subject doesn’t have a place in the classroom and it’s not going to prepare the next generation to go out into the real world and survive. No one is denying the existance of homosexuality, it just has to be put in the right perspective.

    Posted by Alice | June 15, 2011, 7:01 pm
  29. Well, Alice, sexuality — whether homo or hetero — is biology, and it should be taught in biology classes. You can’t teach accurate biology without mentioning the fact — the FACT — that non-heterosexual sexuality is prevalent in the animal kingdom. That many animals — including humans — practice sex, homo, hetero, and otherwise, as pro-social behaviors. Of course, this kind of biology is over the head of young children, so it belongs in say, seventh or eighth grade. But the Tennessee law doesn’t just prohibit “teaching sexuality,” whatever that might mean. It bans mentioning it.

    Nobody I know is advocating “Gay Movie Fridays” in grade school. But contrary to religious dogma, our sexuality is literally the thing that makes us human. It’s absurd to pretend like it doesn’t exist. Imagine if a grade school child has an older brother who’s gay, or an uncle, or whatever… and the teacher tells the child that it’s illegal to mention his uncle and his boyfriend. Does that feel like “Not Discrimination?”

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | June 16, 2011, 5:18 pm
  30. Alice, I would prefer it taught in schools that way, it’s accurate.

    When I took anthropology, I had to watch an half hour long video of various primates masturbating. I would have taken a talk of birds and bees over that.

    Posted by cptpineapple | June 16, 2011, 5:33 pm
  31. Hamby wrote:

    our sexuality is literally the thing that makes us human.

    What’s the reasoning behind that?

    Posted by Ian | June 17, 2011, 3:48 pm
  32. I guess my biggest problem here is sex education in public schools wheter it involves heterosexual or homosexual topics. For the majority of the history of our nation sexual education was not part of the curriculum. Once upon a time those things were best taught in the home. For me it’s not about religion. I’ve always had a conservative view on sex education. I remember my first year in college as a zealous atheist and I thought it was offensive that high schools could hand out condoms to students. Believe it or not, I was a conservative, Republican atheist who was pro-life. Atheism has diversity as does Christianity. I digress – the school system is there to educate my children on math, English, history and academic subjects. Sex education of any type should be optional at best. Unfortunately we have a massive failure of families teaching children about sex and somehow its now fallen in the realm of public education. All Christians are not homophobic hate-mongers as you seem to infer from this decision. Sex education just happens to be a subject I believe is best handled at home. I feel the same way about religion – best handled at home. Sex and faith are private matters, not scholarly matters.

    Posted by Randy | June 17, 2011, 5:03 pm
  33. I guess I better append that “scholarly” matter. Both sex and religion deserve academic study by scholars, and are subjects that are worthy of study. However, neither belong in the public education system of grades K-12 in my opinion. If a child brings up a faith question or a sex question then it could be redirected to a counselor who could best determine the course of action with the student and perhaps the reason the question was asked to begin with.

    Posted by Randy | June 17, 2011, 5:06 pm
  34. Ian:

    Well, on the most mundane level, obviously we are the result of sexual selection since well… our first sexually selecting ancestor selected. On a slightly less mundane level — which I know you have in the front of your brain — regardless of our contribution to the world when we are alive, our objective contribution to life is the result of our sexuality. The existence of children is the only reason we have to try to make the future a better place when we are gone.

    But on a more practical day to day level, our sexuality is a defining force in practically everything that happens. Whether women wear pants or skirts to work is a cultural question, but the reason for the question’s existence is the sexual tension between men and women and the dynamics they create at work. The reason we don’t live our entire life with platonic room-mates, and why we complicate things so much by engaging in relationships, breaking up, getting back together, getting married… all that is sexuality.

    Our appearance is all about expressing our sexuality, one way or another. If we dress to tone it down and make it less pronounced, we are admitting its power. If we dress to look sexy… well, duh.

    Our jobs are about making money — for now, and for the future. With the occasional exception noted, men make money because more money means more power means better women. (More women?) Women make more money to buy better shoes (high heels?), dresses (cleavage?), gym memberships (nice ass, baby?), etc… And of course, if you’re going to make babies (sex), you need to have money…

    Our art, literature, music? Do a survey, and see what percentage of it addresses love, sex, or jealousy either directly or indirectly. Do you suppose more people have written about how much they enjoy an afternoon playing catch with their dog, or how much they love/miss/desire/hate someone of the desired sex?

    Our sexuality permeates every aspect of our cultural and personal existence. And if our genetic makeup was different, we would practice sex differently. If human females experienced estrus instead of mensus, we would have an entirely different culture, and probably an entirely different psychological makeup. What would life be like if men spent only one or two days a month pursuing sex, and literally didn’t pay it any attention the rest of the time? What would it be like if only sexually fertile women bothered to dress up or put on makeup?

    I think if you think about trying to take sexuality out of humanity, you’ll see how completely it defines us.

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | June 19, 2011, 4:06 pm
  35. Randy, I cannot think of a rational reason to except human sexuality from curricula at an age when children are capable of understanding it. It seems like you think there’s something dirty or dangerous about sex. Is that so, and if not, why should children be sheltered from its existence if it’s not dirty or dangerous?

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | June 19, 2011, 4:08 pm
  36. Randy, I too am an atheist conservative, but I still think it should be taught in schools.

    The issue of keeping it personal matters won’t work. I’ve never talked to my family about sex, and it’s everywhere in the media so they’re going to get a bad view of it if they just take from the media.

    You can’t avoid it, and the best we can hope for is to control it before it controls us and I think we’re too late.

    Posted by cptpineapple | June 19, 2011, 11:59 pm
  37. I would also note that some people [including myself] are uncomfortiable talking about sex, so it’s best to leave it to teachers who aren’t.

    Posted by cptpineapple | June 20, 2011, 12:21 am
  38. Let’s be careful about reading between the lines here. Sex is a wonderful part of who and what we are. Innately it is not nasty, but sometimes we make it that way. In a perfect world, it would be taught at home. Sex is closely tied to our worldview and morality. Let’s just toss religion out the window for a moment. Some may take a more liberal view of sex and relationships, and some may adhere to a more conservative view. If parents did what they were supposed to we would not need sex education. No matter what your view of religion is, you can’t help but see a failure in families to raise their children appropriately. Maybe besides or in addition to sex education we should have public schools teach what it means to have and raise a family. I have no perfect answers. My children will receive my teaching on sex before the school teaches it. I’m not sure how to fix the problem. I do believe if you are a parent and you fail to talk to your children about sex, you are failing them. Sexual imagery and messages are everywhere, so it is not a subject we can be quiet about. Since parents have failed to provide proper sexual education I believe society has seen no alternative but to make it a subject of public education. That’s unfortunate, but it’s better than avoiding the subject altogether. I should say as a pastor, I think the church has failed to offer proper sex education as well. For the most part the church seems to portray sex as something nasty that must be kept secret. That’s a bad stance. I have no perfect solution to the problem. To redirect back to the topic of this thread, if sex education is to be taught in a public school, then homosexuality must be addressed as well. It is not the school’s place to teach it as “wrong” or “sin” or as an “abomination” no matter what one’s particular view is. Again, the morality end of things must come from the family. Like I said, no perfect answers here. We have a major failure of the family living up to it’s responsibilities in the lives of its children.

    Posted by Randy Alan Donahue | June 20, 2011, 1:51 am
  39. Sex can be both dirty and dangerous, but that’s when we make it that way. Morality and worldview will dictate at what level it becomes dirty (some may say porn, others only some types of porn, etc.). Sex is dangerous because it can be a vehicle for transmitting disease. Sex is a part of who and what we are. I am just saying, in a perfect world, the family would address these things. Obviously that is not the case so it has fallen to the public education system to do this. When is an appropriate age? Is it kindergarten? 3rd grade? 6th grade? 10th grade? That will be the debate. It often depends on the individual maturity of the child. Again that’s why it’s best left to the family. Inevitably in a public education system some will be taught too early and some too late. As to the original nature of this thread, to avoid talking about homosexuality is ignorant. No matter what the view on it (and certainly in public education it should be a neutral view, neither for or against but to educate on it) not talking about it is not going to make it suddenly go away.

    Posted by Randy | June 20, 2011, 9:42 am
  40. Let’s be careful about reading between the lines here. Sex is a wonderful part of who and what we are. Innately it is not nasty, but sometimes we make it that way. In a perfect world, it would be taught at home.

    I don’t follow the logic.
    1. Sex is part of who we are.
    2. ???
    3. Therefore, it should be taught at home.

    Our history and culture is part of who we are, and those things are taught in school. Our alimentary tract is part of who we are, and it’s taught in school. Our brain and psychological makeup are part of who we are, and they are taught in school. What makes sex something that ought not be taught in school?

    Sex is closely tied to our worldview and morality.

    Now I think we’re getting somewhere. I sense a hidden premise in what you’re saying. (And bear in mind, I’m not telling you you’re wrong. But if you’re right, you need to be able to articulate why.) The premise goes something like this: That which is very closely tied to our worldview and morality ought to be taught at home. I don’t think that follows, either. Some things involved with morality and worldview NEED to be taught objectively, and if parents aren’t capable of passing along accurate information, someone else needs to. I would argue that with something as important as sex, it’s crucial that students be able to rely on something objective and accurate, rather than solely on their family or church, who might be not only incorrect, but bigots.

    But even with that being said, I still don’t find the connection between “sex is really important” and “sex should be taught at home.” What makes parents more qualified than trained teachers who understand both developmental psychology and the science of human sexuality?

    No matter what your view of religion is, you can’t help but see a failure in families to raise their children appropriately.

    Yep. And wouldn’t it be great if there was an objective source of information…

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | June 20, 2011, 1:14 pm
  41. I would also note that some people [including myself] are uncomfortiable talking about sex, so it’s best to leave it to teachers who aren’t.

    I wish there was a “like” button, like the one on Facebook. I would like to “like” this comment. This is PRECISELY why we can’t trust parents to be the only word on human sexuality. Some parents, like Alison’s, did not prepare her for her job (should she reproduce), and she is neither qualified nor comfortable with the topic. Sort of like my parents, and their parents, and most of my friends’ parents. Most people don’t know jack shit about human sexuality, and it’s a very complex topic. I know a lot about human sexuality, but only because I studied it from academics. I got next to nothing from my good hearted, religious parents. And what I got was completely dead wrong.

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | June 20, 2011, 1:18 pm
  42. Let me preface with a few things: (1) I sense that perhaps you are trying to bate me to say something that will just reaffirm your preconceptions about “religious people.” (2) Along those same lines, I find that your blog is not about open discourse but is biased and wanting to create only affirmation amongst others of similar beliefs, just like most Christian blogs. That’s all good though, I don’t think perhaps your blog is intended for anything else. (3) I don’t mean to be too facetious but I am confused by your line of logic too because by that measure then:

    Let’s just let the public school system raise our children. They should potty train them because parents do an inconsistent job at best with that. In fact, let’s enroll them even earlier and make sure they get the proper nutrition and even learn how to walk. Those things are serious issues in parenting as well. Let’s let the school neutrally teach all faith systems and allow the children to make a choice as simply defaulting to what your family believes is too simple (atheist, buddhist, Christian, etc.). In fact, let’s just let the public school system raise the children in dormitories in a controlled enviroment because parenting is obviously a huge failure in our country. The government would do a much better job by letting professionals handle this. Parents could simply visit their children and bring them gifts and such. Again, all those tricky issues like human sexuality would be left to the experts. It’s amazing our country made it almost 200 years without this stuff in our curriculum and with such a lack of regulation on parenting, isn’t it?

    You need to be able to defend your logic too. Where is the line drawn for what parents can be trusted with and what educational institutions must teach?

    Nevertheless, the last thing is this, you’ll probably see no further responses than this from me. It’s been nice meeting you, and spending some time perusing your blog and it’s various topics. I’m as disappointed here as I am by the bias I see in my fellow Christians blogs. I’ve yet to find one of genuine open discussion. Most are simply virtual bully pulpits to press forth an agenda. And again, it’s a free country and it’s your blog to do with whatever you like. I was just hoping to find more. Thanks for letting me share and participate freely.

    Posted by Randy | June 20, 2011, 3:06 pm
  43. (1) I sense that perhaps you are trying to bate me to say something that will just reaffirm your preconceptions about “religious people.”

    Perhaps it is your preconception of non-believers that makes you feel that way. Why don’t we just dispense with the insinuations and have a discussion?

    (2) Along those same lines, I find that your blog is not about open discourse but is biased and wanting to create only affirmation amongst others of similar beliefs, just like most Christian blogs.

    I happily admit to bias, but I have never censored a comment that wasn’t spam or an intrusion into privacy or otherwise illegal. Anyone, Christian or otherwise, can post their opinions here, and I resent your suggestion to the contrary. I haven’t even taken the liberty of dividing your post into thematically appropriate paragraphs, which would make it substantially easier for people to read and grasp your points. I only do that for people who’ve been posting for a while and know I don’t tamper with content.

    (Bias isn’t an inherent evil, Randy. It just means we think we’re right. And you and I both think we’re right. So we’re both biased. Let’s get past this and just have a conversation.)

    Let’s just let the public school system raise our children.

    I’ll go on the assumption that you’re being genuine here. If you are, then you’re committing what is known as an “all or nothing” fallacy. That is, you are creating a situation in which granting my proposition would necessarily entail the extreme observation of the principle. If schools are allowed to teach about sex, then parents have no place in raising children.”

    Of course, that’s absurd. My principle is very simple: Schools are there to teach facts. Human sexuality is full of facts. Many of them are uncomfortable to religious people, (and some non-religious, like Captain Pineapple), and that is PRECISELY why schools need to be in the business of teaching facts. If my parents taught me that the world was flat, I would want someone to teach me the truth. Likewise, if my parents taught me that homosexuality is unnatural, I would want to know that this is not the case. (The animal kingdom is LOADED with homosexuality.)

    Schools should not be in the business of teaching values. Not directly, anyway. This is where family is very important. Your family may have a strong work ethic, and mine may have a more relaxed one. That’s fine. But in both cases, the schools should be teaching the FACTS about how work ethic translates into income, stress levels, marital success, etc, etc, etc. These FACTS can then inform my decisions about personal values.

    In the same way, parents have every right to tell their children what they value. But these values need to be counterbalanced by whether or not they agree with the FACTS. If they do not, children need to have the option of coming to their own decisions based on all the available information. They do not need to be coerced into a value system.

    They should potty train them because parents do an inconsistent job at best with that.

    Maybe things have changed, but when I started school, everyone was already potty trained.

    In fact, let’s enroll them even earlier and make sure they get the proper nutrition and even learn how to walk.

    Why? That’s barking mad, since children learn to walk while they’re still in the physical bonding phase with their mother. It would have awful side effects. But I am in favor of nutrition classes for new parents. In fact, I think it would be a great idea. That way, children wouldn’t already be addicted to caffeine when they start school. They’d be able to focus more closely while the teacher explains basic biology. (And remember, please, that I said human sexuality is appropriate for seventh or eighth graders. It’s safe to say they’re weaned off mom’s teat by that point.)

    Let’s let the school neutrally teach all faith systems and allow the children to make a choice as simply defaulting to what your family believes is too simple (atheist, buddhist, Christian, etc.).

    Sounds like a great idea to me. I took a World Religions course as a Freshman in college. I wish I’d had it years earlier, so that I’d have known how similar all the religions are, and known that my parents were wrong when they told me Christianity was unique.

    If a religion is empirically correct, then more study ought to illuminate that fact more. Not obscure it.

    In fact, let’s just let the public school system raise the children in dormitories in a controlled enviroment because parenting is obviously a huge failure in our country.

    Nah. That’s a bad idea. For one thing, it’s been tried before and failed. More importantly, we know enough about emotional child development to know that children need more physical contact in their formative years than can be given in a dorm environment.

    You need to be able to defend your logic too. Where is the line drawn for what parents can be trusted with and what educational institutions must teach?

    You’re absolutely right. I do need to defend my logic. As do you. And perhaps you can’t see that your “logic” to date has been a series of unrelated hyperbolic suggestions. It’s emotionally appealing — I’ll give you that. But I can’t find a connection between any of it.

    Here’s my position, clearly and succinctly: The line between parenting and education is a line between fact and subjective preference. In the fields of science, maths, history, reading/writing, and civics, schools have an obligation to teach neutral facts and nothing else. Parents have huge obligations, especially in the earliest formative years. Mothers have the obligation to spend many hours per day physically bonding with their children, reading to them, feeding them, teaching them basic human skills like walking, talking, and so forth. They have the obligation to teach their children basic societal skills such as sharing, listening, etc. They must potty train them. They must act lovingly towards them, not abuse them, and keep them safe.

    My justification for this position is simple:
    1. Psychology, sociology, neurology, and every other cognitive science tells us clearly that mothers (and to some degree fathers) are the most incentivized individuals with regard to offspring. That is, nobody else is more motivated to teach basic human skills. But more importantly, volumes of evidence clearly illustrate that children NEED physical and emotional bonding with a parent figure — not a teacher — in the earliest years of development. They are learning facts about the world… true… but the facts they are learning are of the type that parents are competent to understand. If I hold onto the finger while I walk, it’s easier. Stoves are hot and dangerous. We don’t play in the road. Without early parent/child physical and emotional bonds, you’re basically creating a society of psychopaths and sociopaths.

    2. Science, math, history, and so forth are daunting. No parent can be expected to know enough about all of them to successfully prepare a child for the competitive job market. Teachers are trained specialists in specific fields, and more qualified than parents. Also, teachers are (in many places) required to maintain their own education, keeping up with the latest advances in their fields. Parents are usually lucky to get dinner on the table and get the kids into bed on time.

    3. The flip side of (2) is that parents are quite likely to be dead wrong about a lot of factual things. Schools which teach objective and neutral facts about the world are a hedge against parents who are — for lack of a more polite term — ignorant. This at least gives children a chance to break the cycle of ignorance.

    Nevertheless, the last thing is this, you’ll probably see no further responses than this from me. It’s been nice meeting you, and spending some time perusing your blog and it’s various topics. I’m as disappointed here as I am by the bias I see in my fellow Christians blogs.

    I’m truly sorry to see you go. I hope one day you return, even if it’s to tell me how wrong I am. Ask Pineapple — I will actually change my tune if you give me enough convincing evidence. And she’s one of my harshest critics.

    Most are simply virtual bully pulpits to press forth an agenda. And again, it’s a free country and it’s your blog to do with whatever you like. I was just hoping to find more. Thanks for letting me share and participate freely.

    You came here of your own free will, and I cannot (and would not) force you to stay. Bullying is pretty much reliant on the bully forcing someone to endure something they do not wish to endure. So… I can’t for my life figure out how I’m being a bully. I’m being vehement. There’s a difference. If you ever wish to participate in a discussion again, you are free to say whatever you like (within legal limits), and I will never tell you that you have to believe anything.

    Good luck in your search for whatever it is you wish to find.

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | June 20, 2011, 4:14 pm
  44. I was so hoping he’d turn into a slightly more sensible troll than PGCB, but oh well. Another one bites the dust…

    Posted by Alex Hardman | June 21, 2011, 3:15 am
  45. Sexuality is part biological, part sociological, part ideological – it is constructed by our culture to great degree. Heterosexism maintains heterosexuality as not merely the only virtuous sexuality but the only natural one. But oddly the same ideologies and homophobia that I faced in high school by a homophobic culture I faced again in an ideological gay culture which maintained that I did not exist. And my bisexual female partner also did not exist.

    As far as teaching sexuality? Well you can’t teach it with out running into ideologies, sexisms, notions of what passes for truth etc.

    In a culture as diverse as American culture we need to exercise multiple perspectivism, and not bury our heads in the sand. There are gay families out there with one perspective and religious families with another perspective. Let’s not have bigotry cloud scientific fact, but let’s not have our own personal ideologies prevent us from being tolerant of other people.

    Posted by Matthew | July 20, 2012, 5:18 pm

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