First published at Between the Lines News on October 29, 2009
Gay-marriage opponents claim that we gay folk are trying to influence your children. In one sense, they are quite right.
We are not trying to “recruit” your children, if by that you mean “turn them gay.” As gay people, we understand enough about how sexual orientation works to know that you can’t turn people gay—or straight, for that matter—by some act of will.
Rather, we’re trying to do just what those scary “protect marriage” ads say we’re trying to do. We’re trying to teach them about same-sex marriage. In school.
There—I said it. The secret’s out. The gay agenda has been leaked. Call the Maine Yes-on-1 campaign and tell them there’s new material for Frank Schubert and company to quote out of context.
Meanwhile, let’s talk about that campaign—specifically, the ads warning that if Maine keeps marriage for gays and lesbians, Maine schoolchildren will be taught about homosexual marriage.
Put this way, the claim is extremely misleading. Maine (unlike California, which micromanages everything) does not dictate teaching about marriage. Maine curriculum is controlled locally, and individual schools can teach about same-sex marriage (or not) whether or not Maine has marriage equality.
To put the point another way: just because something’s legal, that doesn’t mean it must be taught in Maine schools (or vice-versa).
But whatever happens with Maine’s Question 1, I want Maine schools to teach about gays getting married. Other states’ schools, too.
Part of my reason for wanting this has nothing whatsoever to do with my support for marriage equality. I also want schools to teach about genocide, and I’m pretty staunchly anti-genocide. Schools are supposed to inform students about what’s happening in the world. For better or worse, same-sex marriage is happening in the world. Even if it is taken away in Maine, it will keep happening elsewhere. Indeed, even if it were somehow eliminated everywhere, it would remain part of our history. Students need to know this.
Of course, when we teach about genocide, we make it clear that genocide is a Very Bad Thing. By contrast, responsible teaching about same-sex marriage would have to acknowledge that it is a controversial thing, with sane and decent people on different sides of the issue.
And that is doubtless one reason why you, dear parent, fear teaching about same-sex marriage in schools. You’d rather that your children not know that there are some sane and decent people who deny that same-sex marriage is a Very Bad Thing. Indeed, that there some who think it is a Perfectly Fine Thing. You want to shelter them from such diversity. I don’t.
I want them to know that there are people with different views on marriage, and that gay people are getting legally married in parts of the United States and elsewhere. I want them to know it because any informed citizen ought to know it. But I also want them to know it because some of them might themselves be gay.
That’s right: there’s a small but statistically significant chance that your child might be gay. Ignoring the issue won’t make it go away. And isolating him from the fact of other gay people won’t make it go away, either. It will just make him…well, isolated.
Now, your child might not be gay, and if that’s so, learning about gay marriage isn’t going to make him gay. Sexual orientation doesn’t work that way. (If it did, I’d be straight.) If your child is straight, he will remain straight, regardless of what happens in Maine, California, Massachusetts and elsewhere.
But let’s suppose he’s gay. If so, and if I’m right that he can’t willfully change that fact, then his best chance for a happy, fulfilling life is probably in a relationship with someone of the same sex. (I say “probably” because some people—a very rare subset—are happier single; let’s assume he’s not one of those.) Realistically, his choice is not between a gay relationship and a straight relationship; it’s between a gay relationship and none at all.
Now I don’t expect you simply to take my word for any of this. You want your child to be happy, and you can’t imagine his happiness as a gay person. Maybe you’re deeply convinced that he’d be better off alone than with someone of the same sex.
I don’t doubt that you sincerely believe this. But I sincerely believe that you are wrong—badly wrong, wrong in a way that does needless harm to your gay child.
I want your child to know that his love is a good thing. I want him to know that he deserves a chance at romantic bliss. I want him to know that, regardless of sexual orientation, he can seek someone to have and to hold, for better or for worse, until death do they part.
I want him at least to have that option.
And that, to be very frank, is the bigger part of my reason for wanting schools to teach about gay marriage. I want all kids, including gay kids, to have a fair shot at happiness.
That’s my homosexual agenda in a nutshell.