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Today we present Part 2 of an email exchange between a public high school teacher in Maine, who is also the sponsor of the “gay-straight alliance” in his school, and me. To learn more about this correspondence, please read Part 1. As a government employee in a public school, he should share his teaching philosophy, which is revealed in these emails, with everyone who pays his salary. And every other teacher who shares this philosophy (and commitment to censorship) should be required to make it known to their constituents:
Laurie, for the life of me I do not understand how you can print what you did in your letter to parents and your e-mails to me and then turn around and express love and caring for the very homosexuals you know. Do you truly believe that the very friends of your kids and those you knew in school actually made a conscious choice to be gay? Why are you and so many others so obsessed with the sexuality of gay people? Don’t think about it. Gay people are, like all humans, sexually predisposed. You say it’s immoral. Do you say that to your kids’ friends? Do you advise your kids to love their friends but hate their sexual inclinations? Why would you even care? What will happen when a life-long gay friend of yours or your child marries his/her gay spouse? Would you expect them to be celibate? Why? I want to believe that you genuinely do care for gay kids especially since you seemed to go to great lengths to convince me of that. There just seems to be such a disconnect between what you write me and your letter. In short, I have to assume that because you love your kids’ gay friends and those you know you accept that some people are homosexual (and not by choice).
If this is so why do you and others set up a double standard: straight kids can marry and presumably have sex but gay kids cannot? Again, it seems that you and others who seem to obsess over another form of sexuality cannot get out of your own way in condemning it. And your condemnation is all too often extended to the very nature of all gay people. Imagine the following: there is a world where a gay or straight kid can grow up, get married and live their lives. The impact of who they are, their marriages and families extends only to those who know them. Where is the danger in this? With all the bad (immoral) things that happen in the world why concentrate so heavily on a form of sexuality and subsequent expressions of love. If you think about this you might better understand why most people see your cause as homophobic and bigoted. I accept that you, because you actually know and love gay people, are not homophobic. The rest makes no sense and comes off as hateful to kids and adults alike.
If you whole underpinning of belief is based upon religious precepts than you can never come to a place of acceptance and understanding. The key here, of course, is that these are your beliefs and not most others. And, clearly, not all faiths Christian or otherwise share your concepts of homosexual morality.
BTW, do you truly believe that a gay teacher should not put a picture of his/her spouse on his/her desk. You do know this is common practice.
You’ve asked some of the most important questions on this topic, and they’re huge questions. They get to some of the fundamental issues, like, “Is it inherently and automatically moral to act on all feelings, particularly if they’re unchosen, powerful, and persistent?”
I will try to answer some of them as succinctly as possible.
Q. Do you truly believe that the very friends of your kids and those you knew in school actually made a conscious choice to be gay?
A. No, I don’t believe anyone chooses to experience same-sex attraction. But the absence of volition in regard to feelings tells us precisely nothing about the morality of acting on feelings. Imagine the implications of your question. The logical implication is that any behavior that is driven by unchosen feelings is inherently moral.
Q. Why are you and so many others so obsessed with the sexuality of gay people?
A. I’m not obsessed with their sexuality. I’m simply responding to the very public moral claims that homosexuals and their allies are making. They’re trying to change the public’s view of the nature and morality of homosexuality and they’re using public resources to do that. You seem to be suggesting that while homosexuals barrage the public with their moral beliefs, everyone else should remain silent.
Q. Gay people are, like all humans, sexually predisposed. You say it’s immoral. Do you say that to your kids’ friends?
A. I don’t advise people on their moral beliefs or life choices unless they ask me. I don’t tell my children’s friends who are living with partners while unmarried that such behavior is immoral either. If they asked what I thought, I would tell them, but I don’t offer unsolicited advice on personal matters. Now, if a discussion arose about homosexuality, or marriage, or any number of moral, social, or political matters, I wouldn’t withhold my views just because it might touch on an issue directly relevant to them. So, for example, if the issue of polyamory arose, I wouldn’t withhold my view of polyamory just because the person to whom I was talking was a polyamorist.
Q. Why do you and others set up a double standard: straight kids can marry and presumably have sex but gay kids cannot?
A. It’s not a double standard. Homosexuals can marry. They are not asking for the right to marry. They’re demanding the unilateral right to redefine marriage by jettisoning its central defining feature: sexual complementarity. I’m saying that homosexuals no more have the right to redefine marriage than do polyamorists who aren’t permitted to redefine marriage unilaterally by jettisoning the less central feature regarding number of partners in a marital union. The question is, does marriage have a nature that we merely recognize and regulate, or do we create marriage out of whole cloth. I would argue that it has a nature central to which is sexual complementarity. By the way, there is no government interest in “love.” The government has no interest in recognizing or affirming love. The government’s interest is solely in the objective features of marriage. Do you think two brothers or five people should be permitted to marry? If not, why not?
Q. The impact of who they are, their marriages and families extends only to those who know them. Where is the danger in this?
A. Wow. There’s no danger in radically redefining society’s central social institution? This is a huge question, but here’s my short answer:
If schools truly valued diversity, tolerance, the free exchange of ideas, and critical thinking, and truly honored all voices, students would be exposed to the ideas I’m expressing. They would read essays by Robert George, Ryan T. Anderson, Sherif Girgis, and other scholars writing on the website Public Discourse.
Students would be challenged to think critically about the comparison of race to homosexuality or the comparison of interracial marriage to homosexual “marriage.” They would be challenged to think about whether negative moral propositions constitute hatred and whether children have an inherent right to be raised by their biological mother and father whenever possible. And they would be permitted to have their ideas shaped by the best scholars on both sides of these critical issues. Right now, they’re not.
You said, “The rest makes no sense and comes off as hateful to kids and adults alike.” Perhaps it comes off as hateful because people like you keep telling kids that people like me hate them. There are literally millions of people who think and believe as I do. Why don’t you hear more from them? Because they’re afraid to be called haters, b**ches, a******s, and c**ts. And there’s something else they fear. They fear losing their jobs for saying that they believe homosexual acts are not moral acts.
And why do I want to express my moral beliefs publicly? First, because I believe they’re objectively true. And second, because I think homosexual acts efface human dignity, undermine human flourishing, harm human bodies, and corrupt love between men and men and between women and women. I express my beliefs because I love those who experience same-sex attraction, and I care about both their temporal and eternal lives.
You just went off the deep end Laurie. No one denies you the right to say what you believe. And others are free to say what they believe. You believe that the sexual expression of homosexuality is immoral. Gays, their families, friends and billions of others believe differently. We all get that.
Schools are about teaching and protecting kids. You said you don’t believe in safe space stickers, diversity programs in school and clubs that support gay kids. How are we to protect them from the moral indignation of others especially when this concept of morality is sometimes couched in animus? Gay kids feel threatened by people with such attitudes. My job as a teacher and GSA advisor is to protect all kids no matter their beliefs. Remember I said most kids in GSA’s are usually not gay but they have a strong sense of justice and want to help make the lives of all kids mean something and to feel safe in their schools and communities. In other words we take for granted that there have been and always will be gay kids. We never apply a moral condition to their sexuality. That’s for you to do. Try visiting a GSA sometime. I think you might be surprised at the discussions and their relevance to the lives of all the kids. You do know that GSAs are open to everyone no matter their moral beliefs. The kids run the program. We have had some visitors who had a different attitude about homosexuality and gay marriage. The discussions were insightful and respectful with no pressure to think differently. No one is called to reveal a persuasion. Don’t you think this is healthy and helpful for all kids? Bullying happens when one feels threatened physically or emotionally. I have done neither to you. But if “you” cause a gay kid to feel “less than” because of his/her sexuality and the expressions that will naturally result, then I say “you” are a bully and need to be called out. This is what it means to protect kids.
You don’t think your harsh judgment of conservative moral beliefs, which millions of people share including countless teens, and are central to our identity as Christians, has the potential to make Christians feel “less than”?
You are implying that the ethical legitimacy of speech is determined by the subjective response of the hearer. The logic of that would lead to no one being permitted to express any moral propositions publicly because someone in their presence may feel “less than.” You’re suggesting that if anyone feels bad hearing a moral proposition that applies to him or her, they’ve been bullied? Wow. So much for free speech and public discourse.
If your moral propositions are false, then you are not keeping students safe. And since when is it the job of public school teachers to protect students “from the moral indignation of others”? How do schools facilitate the free and fair exchange of ideas on one of the single most controversial topics in America while preventing students from hearing moral beliefs with which they may disagree? Sounds like rationalizing censorship to me.
Your responses are not new to me. It is a script that is repeated by others in your camp. I simply disregard your concerns and see them as absent any objective basis in fact. Where you see the destruction of the family, I see a renaissance in building strong, loving and committed families for gay people and their kids. And, to me, this is in perfect harmony with any heterosexual two person marriage. If others want another construct let them fight for it. The facts that matter most to me are that I see tremendous and wonderful opportunities here and on the horizon for gay kids. The opportunity to be married to a person they love is now the reality in this country and federally. Yes, there are some states that will need to come on board (yours in particular) but it is my belief that it will happen and sooner rather than later. I do not believe this reality is or will cause any damage whatsoever to yours or any other couple’s marriage or the civil construct of marriage itself. To me it is a win-win situation for gays and gay kids. Of course you will disagree entirely and that is okay. I have no doubt that there have been vile characterizations hurled your way and that is wrong, just has it is wrong and has been for millennia to disparage gay persons with similar terms. That is one major reason why we have a GSA in our school.
Now, since you brought up the vile terms directed at you I have to ask. Are the statements made by you, as quoted on the GLADD Accountability Project, truly yours? I assume you have accessed this site and read these comments. Others are equally disturbing. If you have not please check this out and let me know if those are your words. Again, there is a tremendous disconnect between what you say to me and what I see printed there and this is what I find with so many of the anti-homosexual and anti-gay marriage proponents. If those words are yours you would never say some of that stuff in front a national television audience let alone a group of kids…even your kids’ gay friends. You don’t even say such stuff in your e-mail to parents. If those are not your words than ignore my concern but if they are then you should not be surprised that some might find a similar vile form of expression.
I notice that you didn’t answer my question regarding whether children have an inherent right to be raised by their biological mother and father. Nor did you answer whether siblings or polyamorists should be permitted to marry.
Can you copy and paste the specific quotes of mine that you think are “disturbing.” I haven’t seen the GLAAD quotes, but I would assume they’re accurate. And I assume they got them from my articles, all of which are publicly available. There is nothing that I say in my articles that I wouldn’t say to my kids’ friends if they raised the issue.
I’m just curious what specifically are the “objective facts” I’m ignoring?
Coming Tomorrow: Part 3
Read more in this series: Part 1
Important Upcoming Events:
–> September 7th — An Evening with Eric Metaxas, Dennis Prager, & Dr. Erwin Lutzer
(Click HERE for more info)
–> September 14th – IFI’s 3rd Annual Fun. Run. Walk in Joliet
(Click HERE for more info)
–> October 23rd — IFI’s Defend Marriage Lobby Day in Springfield
(Click HERE for more info)