Sexual Minorities and Education Term Paper

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homosexuals in the school system. The writer explores how the mindset of the system as well as the attitudes of fellow students impacts their self-esteem, and their educational experience. There were five sources used to complete this paper.

America is recognized worldwide for its acceptance and encouragement of diversity. One of the final frontiers along those lines has been in the arena of homosexuality. Advocates of the homosexual community have lobbied for the equal treatment of homosexuals in the work place, in civic duty and even in the legal recognition of couples. With all of the advances that have been made in the area of homosexuality there is still a stigma for homosexuals within the American school system. From dealings with administrators, to the bullying that occurs to the bias in general education regarding gender issues, homosexual students are often caught in a compulsory system that makes them feel self-conscious and substandard.

STARTING AT THE TOP

Schools have been struggling with the homosexual issue for some time now. Whether to discuss it in teen living classes, what to tell students about peers who have two mothers or two fathers and how open to allow their gay teachers to be are all elements of concern for school systems across the nation (Gay, 2002). While the administrators wrestle with these issues the homosexual students walk through the halls and face discrimination and oppression both in the classroom and out of it.

Some schools are moving toward acceptance and the teaching of tolerance with regards to homosexual adults. A district in Hayward California has adopted curriculum that includes homosexual lifestyle discussions and homosexual role models. The district is also allowed to have students read books such as Heather Has Two Mommies" (Gay, 2002).

The case in Ca is considered part of a national trend for the acceptance of alternative lifestyles but it does nothing to address homosexual students and how the current mindset and curriculums in regular classes affect them. Homosexual students currently face the same dilemma that African-American and Hispanic students faced in the past. Everything that is taught and projected in school today is geared to heterosexual mindsets. There are no examples of homosexuality in everyday curriculum.

AA's suffered the same sort of subliminal discrimination in school for many years until experts realized it had a negative impact on the students. While this problem is being addressed there are still no examples of homosexual lifestyle used in everyday curriculums in K-12 grades.

Programs are springing up to try and change that however and they are moving through the opposition that they encounter. "School district officials said that the resolution is about training students and teachers about tolerance and how to provide a safe learning environment for homosexual students and teachers. It's not about teaching students about homosexuality, said Kim Hammond, the school district's chief administrative officer. We're not saying, 'Let's teach the students about homosexuality (Gay, 2002), '" Ms. Hammond said. "What we're saying is, 'How do we accept individuals who are different from ourselves?' Our school board is committed to maintaining a safe learning environment for all of our students (Gay, 2002)."

While there are subliminal messages being sent to homosexual students through the lack of example in academics there are also many blatant encounters within the school system that drive home the belief to homosexual students that they are less than worthy (Opposition, 2002).

One example is the recent court battle to stop a donation of gay themed books to a local high school. The school officials in that district do admit that they have received reports from homosexual students about being harassed and bullied in the hallways and the cafeterias (Opposition, 2002). Everything from having food thrown at them to being beat up in the hallways work to make the homosexual student feel he or she is not safe at school. Living in this stressful situation can have a negative impact on the student's ability to concentrate and be educated. In some cases of homosexual students begin harassed it has been reported that the teachers did not intervene to stop the incident.

They cited fear of losing their jobs if they protected a homosexual student from being harassed even by other students as the reason they failed to act (Opposition, 2002).

Homosexual students who want to come out about their orientation have to weigh the reactions against the benefits. The stress of hearing talk of fags and homos in locker rooms and on the playground work to oppress the homosexual student (Attwood, 1996). The student growing up hearing that in school may begin to doubt their own worth. It may have a negative impact on their self-esteem and this will have a negative impact on the student's ability to be educated. The opposition many times comes from the very administrators that are supposed to protect them from discrimination and attacks (Attwood, 1996).

We're not here to teach about homosexuality, we're here to teach mathematics and English and physics and subjects like that. All this nonsense about 'isms', racism and so on, just detracts from what education is really about (Attwood, 1996). "

One recent study was conducted to gauge the validity of complaints that homosexual students are discriminated against during their educational path. The study was conducted in Shane Town and concluded those who were open about their homosexuality and were male were subjected to relentless cabal abuse as well as physical abuse as they made their way though compulsory years of education.

The study also showed that homosexual students are more likely to commit suicide as a result of this torment they endure.

Some refuted the study results and said it is the attitude that everything is based in homophobia that causes the students to decide they are being persecuted and commit suicide (Attwood, 1996).

A student who is homosexual spends the first few years of his educational path on the playground hearing terms such as gay and fag as derogatory comments when any child is perceived to have upset the balance of the playground. If a child misses a catch in baseball the children tell him he is gay.

If a child disagrees with the bully of the class he is called a fag. A student who is a hidden homosexual begins to receive negative connotations about his or her sexual orientation beginning in early elementary years. As the student moves through the academic world the student is exposed to constant heterosexual bias by way of chosen reading material, math word problems and art projects.

Throughout the day and in the extra curricular activities that are part of the school day homosexual students receive constant messages that they orientation is negative and not to be valued. By the time they begin to realize they are homosexually oriented they have already received hundred of messages both through watching others and by the bias shown in academics and curriculum choices of their districts.

Schools across the nation have begun to recognize the need for acceptance on the part of their homosexual students but opposition believe it is morally wrong to do so. "Sex education programs have been "continually redesigned to introduce children to sex at younger and younger ages," Mr. Knight said. "They are now entering the final step of the campaign, which is to openly promote acceptance of homosexuality even among the youngest children (Tolerance, 2002)."

On its Web site (www.glsen.org),GLSEN declares that "homophobia and sexism undermine a healthy school climate," and states its aim of educating "teachers, students and the public at large about the damaging effects these forces have on youth and adults alike." The New York-based group recently launched a campaign against "institutionalized heterosexism" in schools (Tolerance, 2002). "

Students who face their sexual orientation often have to fight against students and administrators who believe that homosexuality in the school setting is wrong (Service, 2002).

When he was in high school, Derek Henkle says, he was beat up by his classmates, insulted by the principal, and once was lassoed around the neck in a school parking lot, just because he was gay. He tried changing schools twice. Then he sued (Service, 2002)."

THE TOTAL PICTURE

While there is little research about the actual education of homosexual students and how the school day and the bias against them affect those students it is a study that is needed. Homosexual students are sprinkled throughout the nation's school system. They are in every grade, in every economic level, in every school district. They live daily with the ridicule that is sent their way. They are alone in their sexual orientation at the school because the administrators are not sure how to handle their needs. The math word problems are geared to heterosexuality. The literature requirements are often heterosexually based. The art projects are for the depiction of heterosexual acceptance. Every subject in every grade in every school seems to be geared to the promotion of heterosexual orientation. School attendance is compulsory. If the students do…[continue]

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