What Do We Want To Teach Kids?
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by Staff Writer - November 8, 2021
Children are not homogeneous. This is an indisputable fact. Children come in all shades and colors, shapes and sizes, stages of development and personalities, religions and ideologies, ethnic origins, financial backgrounds, and yes, even sexual orientations and gender identities.
Children are a reflection of the society in which they originate, a society where even adults have extreme difficulty peacefully coexisting. And yet, all these diverse children are sent off to a school building for the main part of their day and expected to, "just get along". Of course that doesn't happen, school children bring with them to school the same divisive social baggage that plagues the rest of society. Still, teachers and school administrators are responsible for maintaining order and a safe environment for all their students. In recent decades, school violence has become an increasing problem, often with exceedingly tragic results. There have been school shootings that should never happened even once that have repeated around the country at an alarming rate. Obviously, schools shootings are an extreme and horrible event. They are often a frightening consequence of the feelings of alienation that are often produced by the physical and verbal abuse that some school children inflict on those they perceived as vulnerable. This is called bullying. According to the US government website "Stop Bullying", in "12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied." However, school shootings are not the most common effect of bullying.
Some of the common effects of bullying include: depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, decreased academic and school participation. Bullying is also linked to increased suicide risk especially in sexual and gender minorities including young boylovers, who often don't have the necessary support and feel isolated and alone in their struggles to come to terms with their identities. Sexual minorities experience a disproportionate amount of bullying compared to their heterosexual peers. The 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey showed that, "nationwide, more U.S. high school students who self-identify as a sexual minority as having been bullied on school property (32%) and cyberbullied (26.6%) in that year than their straight peers (17.1% and 14.1%, respectively). The study also showed that more sexual minority students (13.5%) than straight students (7.5%) reported not going to school because of safety concerns. Students who identified as "not sure" of their sexual orientation also reported being bullied on school property (26.9%), being cyberbullied (19.4%), and not going to school because of safety concerns (15.5%)." While young boylovers were not studied specifically, the rates of bullying are likely comparable, as many young BLs self-identify as gay before reaching adulthood.
Beginning in the late 1990s, school personnel in cooperation with student groups, and government have been attempting to make the school environment safe and inclusive for all students. Most schools have adopted various strategies for putting an end to bullying. Many of these programs have been initiated and lead by the students themselves. One result of this has been that many school libraries begin to offer books to assist their student readers who maybe struggling with their sexual identity. This in particular has seen significant push-back in many communities in the last few years. Conservative parents, politicians and outside rabble-rousers with no children in the school district who fear that sexual minorities might be seen as "normal" have began rigorous campaigns and proposed new laws to subvert schools and students efforts to end bullying and promote an environment of social equality and acceptance among the student body.
These are just a few examples of how outside forces are attempting to derail any effort to make schools a better place for all students and promote inclusiveness instead of division. Part of the position of these anti-inclusion radicals is that schools are being used as laboratories of social engineering and that they are teaching children that gender identity and sexual orientation is a choice. This is simply a repackaging of the same old stereotype that people choose to be gay. In fact, all of their discourse is predominantly the same old rhetoric that bigots have employed for decades to encourage hate and violence towards sexual minorities. The use of demeaning words of exclusion like "lifestyle" and "normalize" are prominent themes in their attempt to separate students and send the message that white and heterosexual are normal and everything else is not.
Anti-bulling campaigns that were brought about by the cooperative effort of schools, students, and communities, for many sexual minority students have made a positive difference in their school experience. However in states like Texas and Tennessee, young sexual minority students have had to face the backlash of adults wishing to maintain the status quo. In these states, the students weren't consulted, or asked what they wanted, or given the opportunity to join in on the discussion. They were simply sent a clear message by the adults in authority that this is how it is going to be, the kids that the conservative state and local governments don't like are to remain marginalized.