Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Weekly Response: LGBTQ Students

So that last response is a day or two late, but this response will luckily be just short of a week early!

This week we've had visitors from UD Haven so that we could hear the coming out stories of some of its members. These were very normal people who learned something about themselves that they did not want to have to hide, and have been very strong in their journeys to where they are today. I heard stories about wonderful friends and school faculty that supported them, and "friends" and faculty that did not. Our speakers are human beings, who were mistreated by other human beings. I heard stories of faculty using the word "fag" and of students who did not have many places they could go. A classroom should be a safe place, and to hear that a teacher could insult a student in such a way, especially at a public high school, hurts. to hear.

It's a tricky subject for my background, especially since I expressed interest in possibly teaching at St. Mark's later in life. When it came to my Catholic high school, I learned just how divided people are. The majority of the student population that I knew supports gay marriage from what I have seen. That's just a fact I've observed, and it is happening everywhere. I read a news story a while ago about a talk given at another Catholic high school in the country, and when the speaker changed the subject to why non-heterosexuals shouldn't marry, the student body stopped listening intently as they had before, and erupted. The crowd yelled and booed and if I remember right, weren't quieted until the man left the stage. The Catholic Church, from what I've heard, accepts homosexuals as children of God, but calls them to a life of celibacy. Many members of the Church do not know about this stance, and I have heard of so many parents who started ignoring or speaking so hatefully to their own children. I don't remember St. Mark's as an institution ever really talking about this issue, and so students often asked teachers about it during classes. As far as the student body knows, the school just doesn't really want to talk about it, and I would give an educated guess that it is because the faculty all have different personal opinions, and even though the school probably does have an official stance, don't want to anger or offend anyone. With a student body and a lot of parents that mostly support gay rights and a church and other parents and some students that are very much against it, the school is left in the middle, which I can understand.

Can we just ignore something that affects students so intimately though? I could understand being caught int he middle and not wanting to say anything for fear of less enrollment one way or the other, but I have heard stories that some teachers don't like to hear "fag" or anti-homosexual remarks in the classroom or hallways, and that some other teachers either ignore it or are flat-out okay with it. Even if it is decided that the school cannot be in support of gay rights or anything, I don't think it can just ignore bullying. And maybe to some capacity it doesn't, but if that's true, it certainly does not match the stories I have heard from friends who have had to deal with it with little-to-no support.

The world is changing, and no matter what your stance is on current issues, you can't ignore them as an individual teacher, because these issues already do and will continue to affect your students for the rest of their lives.

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