Our country is changing at a rapid pace.
The economic crisis is in full swing, our first African American president has taken office and our climate is altering every moment. All of these issues are in response to something--poor spending, greater racial acceptance, irresponsibility with sustainability ---that have caused us as a collective to change our paths, minds, education and direction.
It is time we respond to another pressing issue, and change direction yet again.
With greater legalization and the continuing normalization of same-sex couples in America, there arrives the need to address it in one of the largest arenas we have--our schools.
As I walk through the halls of our public schools, I hear slander left and right coming from the mouths of six and seventh graders.
"That's gay!" and "You're a fag!" run rampant in our schools. This is hate-speech. Our kids are effectively using hate-speech as a means to communicate and it has become normalized behavior. Since when is it ok for our children to use language not unlike that of a slave-owner? Is the socially taboo "N" word that far off from the language these students are using? According to one specific study, more than three quarters of students have reported being called "gay" or a "faggot."
This is unacceptable and as a community we should be ashamed.
Lets investigate the term "faggot" and where it comes from, to perhaps give some background to the offensive word. Many people justify the use of it because it refers to literally a bundle of sticks. What most people do not know, however, is that the term faggot refers to a moment in history where men suspected as sodomists would be burned alive in public.
We should not be praising this nor accepting it in our schools.
Schools are a safe-haven for our children. At least, they should be. They are fundamentally places to foster growth, motivate our youth and provide them with tools of acceptance.
Fundamentally this is an issue of respect and dignity. Sexual education should be comprehensive. This is to say that all avenues of life should be presented for students as a means to expose them to reality. Believe it or not, there are gay people in the world. And believe it or not, they are active members in our society who everyone will interact with at some point or another.
As a gay man, it would have been incredibly beneficial to have been introduced to the idea of homosexuality at an early age in school. Instead, my perception of what it meant to be "gay" was left to the kids on the playground. Gay automatically became funny and consequentially something I did not want to be.
Our schools are in the business of helping students, not harming them. Lets provide them with reality and stop living in the fantasy.