Education is cure for homophobia

Eric C. Paulsen, Editor in Chief
Eric C. Paulsen, Editor in Chief

Homosexuality.

It has been around since the dawn of time. We have learned through textbooks and lectures that many great individuals throughout history have been homosexual. Still homosexuality is not a topic that Americans cannot speak freely about without having to worry about the repercussions from the public for having such an open mind.

Homophobia is a growing problem in America and has put many gay and lesbians in the hospital because of the violence which follows homophobia, basically for one simple reason; they don’t fit the “accepted” train of thought in America.

With homophobic violence on the rise, some school districts in America are beginning to see the importance of educating its teachers on homosexuality, so they can incorporate it into the classroom. The reason for this is that students will know how to handle the decisions that arise when thrust into a homosexual situation.

Educating students to understand homosexuality is a realistic concern in a person’s life and providing the students with the facts could possibly result in a reduction of homophobic violence across America.

It sounds like the ideal thing to do. However, as we know, we do not live in a perfect world and teachers are faced with the problem of trying to get the approval of school boards in order to educate students on this topic.

This past Monday, 500 middle school teachers from the West Covina Unified School District attending a Region Q Symposium walked out because one of the session dealing with the acceptance of homosexuals in society was cancelled by order of the school board. The teachers did not approve of this action, staging a protest to show the wrongs of censorship and the need of educating youngsters on homosexuality.

The Region Q Symposiums’ purpose was to instruct teachers on how to handle difficult topics in the classroom, such as death, divorce and homosexuality—all viable topics and something that many young students do not know how to handle because of a lack of education.

One of the school board members responsible for the cancellation of the controversial session was Mike Spence, who was quoted in the San Gabriel Tribune as saying, “I think it’s inappropriate to promote homosexuality for 12- and 13-year-olds,” and “We don’t pay our teachers to be counselors.” Board members are also threatening to have the school district dropped from the symposium.

Spence’s comments show how out of touch these decision-making administrators are with what occurs in the classrooms of the ‘90s.

When Spence said that teachers are not counselors, he was wrong. Many students, ranging from elementary to high school, and even including college students, see their teachers and professors as someone more approachable with their problems than a school’s counselor.

Many schools begin the sexual education in the fifth grade and repeat it over the years until the student graduates from high school. The school board seems hypocritical when it allows sex education to be taught in the classroom to 11-year-olds. However, to not permit teachers to educate students on homosexuality is wrong because students needs to be educated on the health and emotional risks that are involved with being homosexual. By allowing this subject to be taught, the school board might give students a better understanding of homosexuality and could change the hostile stereotypes which result in violence.

I like to think I have an open mind and try not to judge people on the basis of sexual preference, color of skin or even religious beliefs. However, many people across America do not share the same views and think the way to solve a problem is with violence. Maybe if schools were allowed to educate students and breakdown the stereotypes of homosexuality, people could fill their heads with something other than hate.

Eric C. Paulsen, Editor in Chief
Eric C. Paulsen
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