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Religion & Law: Mirror of Justice
My daughter's "controversial GLBT curriculum"
By Rob Vischer
This morning when I dropped my daughter off at school, a woman handed me a flyer alerting me that a "controversial GLBT curriculum" is coming to the Minneapolis public schools next year, and that I need to make my voice heard at a meeting scheduled for tonight. The curriculum, the flyer informs me, is designed to develop "new understandings of the diversity of families," to teach students that there are no "wrong" families, to facilitate discussion of the harmful effects of stereotyping about sexual orientation and gender roles, and to help students gain an awareness of families with two moms or two dads.
As a Catholic parent, am I supposed to object to this curriculum and if so, on what basis? My children do not believe -- nor would I want them to believe -- that there are "wrong" families. There are some family structures that are more conducive to the flourishing of children (two-parent, namely), but does that reality mean that we shouldn't teach our children to be welcoming toward single-parent or same-sex-parent families? And does anyone dispute that stereotypes about sexual orientation and gender have harmful effects?
More fundamentally, though, my daughters would not blink twice at the notion that families headed by same-sex couples can be healthy and nurturing. Their own life experience confirms as much, as same-sex couples have been part of their lives for as long as they can remember, and they have seen up close how those parent-child relationships function. For me to suggest to them that Susie's family is "wrong" because Susie has two moms would be much more troubling and jolting for them than to read a book portraying a same-sex couple in positive terms.
I'd compare it to our debates about race in this country. I had never heard my second-grader refer to a person's race until the last few weeks when she picked up on conversations about Barack Obama being the first African-American President. Until then, race wasn't even on her radar screen. Her schools and friendships have always been racially diverse, and so her perception of race's relevance is shaped by her relationships with real people. In the same way, her perception of sexual orientation's relevance is shaped by her relationships with real people. It hasn't been an issue for her. Not having a school curriculum reflecting her experience of the world would be more jolting, I would think, than having a "controversial GLBT curriculum." And I imagine that will be the case for more and more children as gays and lesbians become more open and more prominent in our society.
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