Thursday, January 26, 2006

Pro-Gay Posters In The Classroom

Joanne (see blogroll at left) has an interesting story: certain teachers in San Leandro don't want to hang pro-gay posters in their classrooms because they say doing so would be against their religious beliefs. Education Intelligence Agency (see blogroll at left) has interesting comments as well: will the union back the teachers or the leftie pro-gay crowd? Seems like the union's in a bit of a pickle here!

I'm conflicted on this one. One one hand, the school board created a policy that says the poster must be displayed in the classroom. I'm all about following the rules. I always say that the schools are governed by the voters through their elected school board and teachers are public employees--as such, we have to follow the rules, like them or not.

However, is there merit to the teachers' claims that this policy forces upon them a violation of their religious beliefs and is therefore a violation of the 1st Amendment? I'm sympathetic to that argument.

This is truly a conundrum. Gay tolerance posters? While there are few more gay-tolerant than I, this seems a bit excessive to me--even in the SF Bay area! Why should we single out gays for tolerance? Are there no other groups that might merit tolerance but gay students--and in the SF Bay Area, no less??!! This Board policy strikes me as promoting a specific agenda that is so narrowly tailored that it's designed to cause problems. No one can argue with "tolerance" and "anti-bullying", but the devil is certainly in the details. "Tolerance" means to "tolerate", not welcome or condone or celebrate. I tolerate liberals :-)

Why the Board didn't commission a poster with the symbols of several different (harrassed) groups, with a message of tolerance? Why couldn't there be a pink triangle, a Star of David, a picture of a punker or goth, etc on a poster of tolerance? Focusing on a controversial 1.5%-6% (reasonable studies, not Kinsey's 10%) of the population just seems to me to be a Board that's either listening to a loud minority or is trying to show its liberal bona fides--and neither is fitting for an elected body in this country.

Ok, I'm getting off the fence here. If the policy were merely stupid, but not in conflict with the 1st Amendment, I'd say tough noogies. But since the policy itself is illegal, it must be challenged.

Update: The more I think about it, the more I think that the policy might not be illegal. Sure, we could find a court that might declare it illegal--and that court would be far, far away from San Leandro and the Bay Area!--but it's not so obviously illegal that a court challenge is mandatory.

Teachers, tough noogies on having to post them. Might I suggest posting some other tolerance posters nearby--ones like those linked to in the comments on this post?

8 comments:

Rhymes With Right said...

Good Job -- I comment on the same situation over here. I've even got the poster on my site.

Interesting thing -- this poster designed by the Gay-Straight Alliance indicates the rooms are safe for every conceivable sexual minority, but leaves out the straight kids.

http://rhymeswithright.mu.nu/archives/153764.php

Mike T said...

Darren

I wonder if the School Board or Union could handle a poster on this oppressed group.

Conservative-white-male-heterosexual-Christians.

Just curious?

Darren said...

See Rhymes With Right's post linked in the first comment.

Walter E. Wallis said...

Why not post an Army recruiting poster next to the flag. Let them know where their freedom comes from.

leahan07 said...

i'm surprised they're allowed, or tolerated.. i know it's "gay tolerance" but here in ks.. those posters would be ripped down in a second and the teachers and school board would never do a thing about it..

Darren said...

Walter, we can put the army recruiting poster right next to Rhymes With Right's poster. See the URL in his comment above.

Darren said...

I posted the following over at http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2006/01/teachers_refusing_safe_space_s.php :

******************
I'm a gay-friendly teacher and object to these signs. Singling out gay students goes beyond the protection/tolerance issue and into the realm of advocacy.

I like the overall "safe school" motif, as I mentioned on my own blog. The triangle (or rainbow flag, but not both) would be one of several symbols of groups who might be "oppressed"--throw in a Star of David for good measure.

This topic reminds me of hate crimes legislation, which I don't support. Beating someone up is *wrong*, whether you do it for their money or because you don't like their religion or sexual orientation. Beating someone up is battery and should be punished as such, with no gradations. In the schools, harrassment and/or bullying should be punished equally harshly whether the reason for the harrassment is sexual orientation, academic achievement, style of dress, etc. Saying "Don't beat up the overachievers" sounds dumb, doesn't it? Saying "Beat anyone up and the weight of the law will come down upon you" pretty much covers it.
*******

Coach Brown said...

Hi ya Darren,

We had to go to the same kind of "meeting" at our school, but our posters are more encompassing. You're right about the legal issue. The school can put up the posters. On the other hand, it is a political issue, which means the school district is using the wrong solution to an ugly problem.
I posted on this as well on my blog.