Monday, March 07, 2005

Dyke-hunting in the Schoolyard

I don't know why these stories about discrimination against homosexuals in the education system should bother me anymore - it's so common after all, especially in private schools - but they do. It's yet another re-inforcement of the "gays are ok, just keep them the hell away from our kids" mentality that fuelled the Play School mums debate last year. And for all the posturing of the Victorian Education minister about how "deeply troubled" she is by this incident, that doesn't really do anything to resolve the underlying problem.

It's another example of the new counter-political correctness: the Right (and not just the rancid religious), which for years has whinged about not being able to express racist, sexist or homophobic views without being "punished", has successfully promoted the false impression that homosexuality should be kept within the exclusive domain of parents to teach their children (if they so choose), rather than introducing them during their formative years (when they're arguably at their most open-minded) to sexual diversity and minority sexualities as part of a regulated, official public education syllabus.

Obviously in too many schools, homosexuality is still an educational taboo, one of the few left, and will only become more off-limits if private schools continue to remain exempt from anti-discrimination laws and the government does little more than slap its public educators on the wrist (the offending principal was forced to write an apology to the teacher when it was brought to his attention he may have been in breach of Victoria's equal opportunity laws - oooh, big scary) when they are so explicitly homophobic. Like the different approaches to safe sex teaching in the US and Australia - the totally unrealistic drum-beating of abstinence versus rational, practical discussion on and demonstrations of condom use, contraception, safe sex methods etc - it's all about taking emotion and dogma out of the equation long enough to accept that, yes, teenagers will have sex with each other, and yes, some will have sex with partners of the same gender.

That's not necessarily to say I believe 9 and 10 year olds should be well-versed in anal sex and dental dams; I just think it's a circular, self-fulfilling argument that homosexuality is viewed as a threat because it isn't taught to young people at schools, and homosexuality isn't taught to young people at schools because it's viewed as a threat. Education is, as is often the case, the best way to neutralise any perceived threat. But how are kids expected to respect and tolerate homos and dykes when the teachers themselves cannot be respectful or tolerant?


At 8/3/05 7:55 am, Blogger Ron said...

MrLefty is posting this too, Sam, at AnonymousLefty


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