But first, go read this story out of Florida. Highlights, if you don't like to follow links:
MIAMI — A high school club that promotes tolerance of gays must be allowed to meet while a lawsuit is pending, a federal judge ruled.
U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore ruled Friday that Okeechobee High School must grant the same privileges to the Gay Straight Alliance that it grants other clubs, as mandated by the federal Equal Access Act.
The American Civil Liberties Union sued the Okeechobee school board in November on behalf of the high school's Gay-Straight Alliance after school officials said the group was a "sex-based" organization that would violate its abstinence-only education policy...
In his ruling, the judge said the school showed no evidence to back its concern that the group would encourage students to share "obscene or sexual explicit material," and that the school had made that assumption based on the group's name.
My opinion: the judge is absolutely correct in this ruling.
I understand that people disagree on this topic; like I said, I've waffled on the topic in the past. But I've come to believe that homosexuality is not "what you do", it's "who you are". I understand the argument that the "who you are" can lead to "what you do", but I now view sexual identity as something akin to race--it's part of you, something you cannot change. You can change what you do, but you cannot change who you are. It's a fundamental part of your identity.
This does mean that I view effeminate guys, butchy women, lisps, flamboyance, and similar stereotypes as a fundamental part of identity. I believe that some (but not all) of those behaviors are learned or exaggerated. But the core of homosexuality, the type of people you're attracted to, is not something over which you have conscious control.
I also believe that homosexuality is "caused" neither entirely by nature or nurture, but by a combination. I don't view sexuality as binary--either gay or straight--but a continuum. Everyone falls somewhere on that continuum naturally, but environmental factors can certainly have an influence--certainly on those who are at neither extreme of the continuum.
While the science on this topic certainly isn't settled--heck, in my childhood, homosexuality was still classified as a mental disorder by the APA--the above seems a reasonable explanation to me.
So now on to GSA's, or Gay-Straight Alliances, at our public schools.
Students should not have to hide who they are at our schools. That doesn't mean that everyone needs to accept everyone, far from it. I subscribe to the concept of tolerance, which is very different from acceptance. But I don't think it's a very big secret that gay students are picked on in schools, and that the very language and vocabulary used by so many of our students today is particularly onerous to gay students. Yes, other students are picked on, too, and we in the education field need to be prepared to stop all forms of harassment. But let's be blunt: gays are singled out at least as harshly and as vigorously as other groups, and often more harshly and vigorously. And they're singled out for who they are, not what they do.
GSA's are not "meat markets". They don't exist as clubs where students can hit on each other and trade porn, as the school district in the above-linked story presented. Come on, the internet is a much more efficient medium for such activities. These clubs, by their very name--Gay-STRAIGHT Alliances--exist to help all students build bridges to each other. Again, by their very name if not by their activities, they promote tolerance. Some may cross the line into homosexual advocacy, something I would not condone, but the primary purpose of such clubs seems to be to help students learn to tolerate each other and to treat each other as individuals, not as members of labeled groups.
Speaking as a conservative, I see that as a good thing. We conservatives seek individual rights, not race-, ethnicity-, or class-based privileges for favored groups. We conservatives believe in treating individuals equally. In my not-so-humble opinion, that's part of what separates us from the liberals. So to my fellow conservatives who have religious or other objections to homosexuals, I say this: we must not seek out and discriminate against individuals because of who they are. Those who would attempt to ban GSA's only confirm the worst stereotypes about conservatives, and truly do nothing for the cause; in fact, it makes us appear hypocritical.
Should you opt to leave comments, please do not try to drag in pedophilia (which is at least as common in heterosexuals as it is in homosexuals), bestiality (animals cannot consent), polygamy, etc. They are not germane to this topic. I understand that some view homosexuality as a sexual perversion; as I said before, I view it as an identity, as part of who you are and not what you do. Let's not make this a place to rehash the time-worn arguments about homosexuality, religious morality, etc. Let's focus on what our political conservatism demands of us in this situation, and the best way to promote true tolerance for each of us as individuals.