Following my recent piece about “progressive” teachers who exploit their publicly subsidized positions in government schools to advance their personal moral and political beliefs about the nature and morality of homosexuality and gender confusion, I received an email from a public high school teacher in Maine who is also the sponsor of the “gay-straight alliance” in his school. For the next two days we exchanged emails which are both illuminating and deeply troubling. This week I am posting the entire exchange, so that taxpayers can hear from the proverbial horse’s mouth what many progressive “public servants” believe is their right to do with public money. Remember, the beliefs revealed in this email exchange are not unique to this teacher. The public that pays the salaries of teachers like this one—that is, teachers who view themselves as “agents of change”—are entitled to know what these teachers presume is their right to do on the public dime with other people’s children.
Two clarifications are in order:
- IFI has the following statement on our “Contact” page through which emails are submitted: “All emails sent to IFI become the property of IFI and may be published.”
- This email exchange is lengthy. If you have neither the time nor interest in reading it, stop now. This post is intended only for those who have both the interest and time to read it.
- The teacher’s name is redacted throughout the exchange.
Here goes, but fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy week:
Laurie Higgins’ post to parents re: monitoring the progressive stands of [their kids'] teachers is an example of stupidity, paranoia and, yes, even humor. Laurie reeks of sheer ignorance of the true structure of public school curriculum. Her assumption that an administration, a school committee and a superintendent would not know of the effectiveness of their teachers and the strategies employed in their school’s classes is a product more of animus than logic. Laurie would much more prefer that schools teach Biblical precepts and would have no qualms supporting such a focus. Her paranoia stems from her fear that, God forbid, kids will be exposed to the real world, real logic, real problem-solving and the reality of life locally, state-wide, nationally and globally. I, with no compensation, advise a Gay-Straight Alliance in our high school. We, all of us, celebrate the diversity we have in our school. The larger majority of members are straight kids and they would say to Laurie, “Be gone. You have no power here.” They would also quickly remind Laurie that it us her very animus and bigotry that fires them up to keep this program alive. So, Laurie, please send out your e-mail. You have no idea how much your attitude contributes to the strength of nation-wide school programs designed to curb bullying and create Safe Spaces. The kids need to be safe from the likes if you.
Wow, R, so many assumptions, so little time.
Until the fall of 2008, I worked full-time in the writing center of the local public high school where all four of my children attended. We live in a liberal community with a high percentage of community members who are Jewish. I grew up in this town. I have no desire whatsoever for my local high school to teach biblical doctrine. You have manufactured that strange claim out of whole cloth. I challenge you to find one bit of evidence from any interview I’ve ever done or article I’ve written to support that claim.
Further, from my years of working in a public high school, I have a fairly good sense of what the administration knows about what goes on in the classroom and what they don’t know. I also have a pretty good sense of the liberal bias they are willing to tolerate (and promulgate) in text selection, library book collections, professional development opportunities, and classroom commentary from teachers.
I disagree with yet another assumption of yours, which is that I’m “paranoid.” It’s difficult to respond to such a charge when it is accompanied by no evidence of paranoia whatsoever.
At the high school level, I am completely comfortable with students being exposed to the “real world,” and the “real world” actually includes ideas and propositions that dissent from “progressive” ideas and assumptions. The irony in your claim is that it’s “progressives” who are committed to de facto censorship on the topics of, for example, homosexuality, gender confusion, and Critical Race Theory. While “progressive educators” expose students (starting freshman year) to plays, novels, essays, films, speakers, and activities that promote their non-factual views on these topics, they refuse to spend equal time exposing students to the work of the best conservative scholars (e.g., Princeton law professor Robert George) on these same topics. Such arrogant censorship transforms education into indoctrination.
Finally, moral propositions about volitional behavior do not constitute “animus” toward persons. Perhaps you hate those whose beliefs and actions you disagree with, but you ought not project your attitudes onto others. Most people in our wildly diverse world are completely able to love and delight in the company of those who hold very different beliefs and make very different life choices. Most of us do it all the time.
I find it troubling that the majority of kids in the club you sponsor would reject someone who holds different moral and ontological views on homosexuality than they do. Sounds like someone isn’t doing a very good job of fostering tolerance and respect for diversity. Those kids are going to have a lot of trouble making their way through a world that includes Orthodox Jews, Muslims, Catholics and many Protestants who believe volitional homosexual acts and cross-dressing are immoral.
Apparently Laurie, you believe that you and you alone understand the “facts” of life. Your posted letter to be sent out to parents in no way suggests that you could ever delight in the company of those who hold very different beliefs and who live their lives as open, honest and loving people. Your organization is considered by many to be a hate group. You have no interest whatsoever in protecting children who are gay. You have no interest in even acknowledging their lives, hopes and dreams. You would never condone the existence of a GSA in a school because, and you know this, you can’t accept the existence of gay people. Your one comment, that Safe Space stickers are an example of a dangerous liberal tactic to introduce homosexuality into the curriculum, is all the evidence I need to label you a bigot and homophobe. I have monitored your site. I have read the lies. I know your intent and, again, kids need protection from the likes of you.
A little story for you: 2 years ago our high school librarian hosted a poetry day activity. She placed a basket on her counter. In it were small folded pieces of paper with poems printed on each one. An advisor picked up a handful of them to distribute to her home room. One young man who happened to be gay, open his to read a note written on the back. “Roses are red, violets are blue, F——High School is gay and so are you!” The teacher and students were livid. Some came to me and asked what could be done. There were calls for finding the student and shaming him. I asked the kids and teacher to give me a night to think on it. At home I happened to look at the actual printed poem on the piece of paper. On it was a beautiful poem about honesty, respect and love for the differences in all of us. It was amazing. The next day I asked the kids to let me try something. I went on the intercom when morning announcements were being made. I spoke to the school about the incident and read first the kids vile poem and then the actual one. I asked the school to consider if this one kid’s poem is representative of our school. I asked them to consider if expressions of homophobia are to be considered acceptable. I then asked them to please stand if they felt. Our high school was better than that. I proceeded and asked them to move to the classroom door if they wanted all of our state to know that this is not right. And then I invited them to move into the corridor, clap, cheer and make a lot of sound if they wanted the world to know that this type of bullying would not become our identity. You can imagine the result. Many were moved to tears and the feelings of hope and our shared humanity were palpable. On that day many kids in our school felt safe and protected from bullying. On that day our school was a safe space for everyone who believes in diversity and fairness. When I spoke to the kids I acknowledged that the student poet has a right to hate but that student has no right to threaten with hateful words. On that day our school was, indeed, a safe space even if the student poet was feeling a bit uncomfortable.
What’s interesting in this anecdote is that you once again reveal both your presumptuousness and your ignorance. You have conflated my moral beliefs with hatred. Of course there are conservatives who hate homosexuals, just as there are liberals who hate Christians. I know because I get emails that say things like “You c**t,” or “You b**ch,” or “I hope you f******g die.” The right has no monopoly on hatred.
But there’s a world of conservatives—thoughtful, compassionate, articulate, well-educated, intelligent (even brilliant) conservatives—who believe that homosexual acts are not moral. I know very few liberals who have spent any time reading the work of the best conservative scholars who write on issues related to homosexuality. In fact, the liberals I know can’t even name them. The liberals I know live in an intellectually insulated world in which they talk only to each other in elitist ways about anyone who thinks differently than they do. While they claim to value diversity, their intellectual awareness says otherwise.
When people like you keep telling kids that people like me hate them, you breed anger and hatred. I challenge you to find a single person—homosexual, “transgender,” “progressive” or any other—who will tell you I spoke to or treated them hatefully. Expressing moral propositions—even negative moral propositions—is not equivalent to hatred. The only way you can sensibly claim that I am hateful is if you redefine hatred to mean “moral propositions with which R. disagrees,” but then that wouldn’t be a very sensible definition.
Your response epitomizes the presumptuousness of so many on the left. You know nothing about my personal life, so you can’t possibly know whose company I delight in.
All four of my children have had friends who self-identify as homosexual. One of my children’s closest childhood friends “came out” early in high school. One of my children had a classmate who self-identified as “transgender.” I had tutors who identified as homosexual who worked for me in the writing center in the high school I used to work in. I delighted in the company of these kids no less than the company of other teens—most of whom held beliefs very different from mine on a number of issues and made choices that I believe do not lead to human flourishing. I loved being around them. I loved talking to them and laughing with them. I loved working on their college essays with them and learning about their interests outside of school. Teenagers are my favorite group of humans.
My young adult children are completely comfortable inviting their friends—any of their friends—to our home. One of my children was ostracized during most of the K-12 years. It was a very painful childhood, so I know about bullying. I taught my children that they were not only never to bully, but they were to defend those who were being bullied. So, your claim that I have no interest in protecting homosexual kids or acknowledging their existence is ugly and untenable.
Love depends first on knowing what’s true. If homosexual acts are not moral acts, it cannot be a loving act to affirm them. I believe affirming homosexual behavior as moral behavior harms kids. And liberals compound this harm by continually spreading the vicious lie to children that everyone who believes homosexual acts are wrong hates them. Liberals spread this lie and in so doing destroy any possibility of dialogue and relationship between homosexual kids and those who hold different moral beliefs about the nature and morality of homosexuality than they do.
Do you believe that all negative moral propositions constitute hatred of persons? Or is it just those moral propositions with which you disagree that constitute hatred?
You know what I write about moral propositions, public policy, and school issues. That’s it. You have no idea how I feel about people as individuals or how I interact with or treat them.
Oh, and you probably know what the intellectually vacuous, morally corrupt SPLC says about me. You may want to read what I’ve written about Mark Potok and Evelyn Schlatter. It’s a fascinating story.
It just struck me that your emails prove the point that I’ve been trying to make for several years, which is that the end game, the ultimate goal of the current incarnation of bullying-prevention efforts is not to end bullying—a goal with which virtually everyone agrees. The ultimate goal of current bullying prevention efforts is to eradicate conservative moral beliefs.
I have consistently stated that no one should be bullied for any reason. I have never bullied anyone. Yet people like you keep calling me a bully and a hater. Why? Because I will publicly state my belief that homosexual acts are not moral acts. And the only reason I do that is that the left keeps saying they are moral acts. Not only are they saying it, they’re using publicly subsidized schools to promote those subjective beliefs.
So, your end game is to hurl epithets at conservatives—even conservatives who have never uttered a single hateful word—until they’re silenced.
Stay tuned! Part 2 will be published tomorrow.
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