Stevenson High School Students’ Ironic Effort to Promote Tolerance
Stevenson High School Students’ Ironic Effort to Promote Tolerance
Written By Laurie Higgins   |   03.24.10

Reading Time: 2 minutes

A few weeks ago, it came to IFI’s attention via some obscene hate email that several false rumors about us had started at StevensonHigh Schoolin Lincolnshire, Illinois. The rumors were that IFI was attempting to persuade the Stevenson administration to shut down its gay-straight alliance, to fire a teacher, and to remove the book Flamingo Rising from the curricula.

As much as IFI would like all gay-straight alliances to close their doors forever because of the harm they do to students, the Equal Access Act guarantees their right to exist. IFI would not waste our time trying to get any school to close one.

And as much as IFI would love for the Stevenson English Department to choose a better book than Flamingo Rising — one that would not offend the sensibilities of any student or parent — we have not made any effort to remove it from Stevenson’s curricula.

Finally, although in March and December of 2009, I wrote critically about some of the comments and activities of Stevenson teachers, IFI has never suggested that any of them be fired.

As a result of these false rumors, a number of current and former Stevenson students started an anti-IFI Facebook group (at last count, membership stood at 683). Although, I’m sure Stevenson students believe this Facebook group serves the cause of tolerance, I would characterize some of the comments as serving the cause of hatred and intolerance.

The reason I’m writing about this sorry incident is that it exposes the hard truth about what our culture, including our public schools, actually cultivates with the message about homosexuality embedded in discussions of bullying, “diversity,” and “tolerance.” The kind of hatred expressed both on this Facebook website and in the emails IFI received reveals a deeply troubling truth about the impact of the pervasive cultural deceit that moral disapproval of homosexual behavior constitutes hatred of those who self-identify as homosexual. The intense hatred reveals that this deceit itself breeds hatred.

Many of the students who joined this group and emailed obscene, ignorant, and hateful messages to IFI have clearly bought the lie that disapproval of behavior = hatred of persons. And it is this lie that ironically fosters hatred in those who believe it and serves as an obstacle to civil discourse.

Of course, it is highly unlikely that these same students live out that principle consistently because virtually no one does. It is unlikely that they believe that their moral disapproval of, for example, selfishness, aggression, laziness, gluttony, promiscuity, cheating, lying, gossip, or polyamory constitutes hatred of those who engage in aggressive, lazy, gluttonous, promiscuous, dishonest, gossipy, or polyamorous behavior. These same students are likely able to even love those who hold different moral beliefs from theirs and who engage in behaviors they believe are wrong. At least, most people are able to do that.

Right now, public schools censor all resources that affirm conservative assumptions about homosexuality while at the same time presenting resources that affirm unproven “progressive” assumptions about homosexuality. It is this pervasive censorship and bias that contributes to a climate of hate. It reinforces the lie that moral disapproval of behavior constitutes hatred of persons and ironically results in exactly the kind of intolerance, incivility, and hatred that IFI experienced.

In terms of curricula, administrators and teachers should either remove the topic of homosexuality and Gender Identity Disorder (aka “transgenderism/transsexuality”) from public schools or do what public schools are supposed to do and claim to be doing: critically study these topics using the best resources from the best scholars on both sides of the debate.

Laurie Higgins
Laurie Higgins was the Illinois Family Institute’s Cultural Affairs Writer in the fall of 2008 through early 2023. Prior to working for the IFI, Laurie worked full-time for eight years...
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