Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"That's Gay"

Over the years I've had students who have willingly exposed their sexual difference in my classes. I've had students who I suspected were struggling with their sexuality. I've had students who were clear about their own sexuality and who were painfullly clear about other people's sexuality, too. I've even had a student, no joke, whose gender I was pretty unsure of during the entire term. I hope that I've been able to make my classroom a place where students don't have to be afraid of being intentially hurt, for any reason. I hope that I'm getting it right. I know that there have been times when I clearly did not. I'm working on it. But we've been looking at a text recently that forces our discussion of sexuality and I've been afraid that the students who are homosexual are uncomfortable, not because of mean or homophobic comments; just because there are all these words and thoughts flying through the air and they seem to land on them specifically. Still, I don't want to force us to be silent as a class. That's worse.

A post over at CocoMamas today makes it palpably and poignantly clear why we HAVE to get it right. I hope you'll take a look.


evenshine said...

WOW, the post over at CocoaMamas was intense.

As someone holding a different worldview, it's challenging to know how to simultaneously hold to what I believe while delicately (but unequivocally) condemning hateful actions against particular groups. I don't agree with a lot of what CocoaMamas said, but I do agree with your point that conversation has to take place, and we have to quit tiptoeing around it. As a fairly straightforward kinda chick, I say ditch the fear and deal with these issues that come up in your class head-on, but with a positive feeling. There are probably people (like me) who won't agree. That's fine- just as long as it can be talked about calmly and intelligently. Kudos for dealing with it in class!

The Steel Magnolia said...

evenshine: I totally get what you're saying. For me, the primary issue is for people to 1) Mind their own business; and 2) Engage people as equal human beings. I get the "different worldview" (in your words) but I don't get the anger and hatred. Actually, I do get it, because I used to buy into it 100%. At some point, though, one has to acknowledge how much pain and hurt goes along with being marginalized. I mean, people are dying!
Thanks for your comment!