LGBT lessons and protesting parents

Parents in Manchester have been protesting outside schools about the No Outsiders programme which teaches kids that it’s ok to be gay. When I first saw the protestors I thought schools must have been showing kids x-rated pornography, but it turns out all they are doing is explaining that some kids have two mummies and some kids have two daddies. What’s wrong with that? What an over-reaction!

Ben and I have already taught our own children that some people prefer their own sex and that there’s nothing wrong with that but the fact that other parents are so vociferously objecting to this view for their own children, children who may grow up to be gay themselves, demonstrates the importance of including it in the school curriculum.

One protester said, “Being Muslim and being homosexual unfortunately doesn’t coincide together“. Homosexuality is not immoral. The ethicist, Peter Singer says, If a form of sexual activity brings satisfaction to those who take part in it, and harms no one, what can be immoral about it? Personal religious views are insufficient to justify interfering in someone else’s liberty. John Stuart Mill said,

…the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant….Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.

If religious views harm others, as those views of the protesting parents are, then the problem lies with the parents and not with the school and it’s all the more reason to expand the program rather than put it on hold.

selective photograph of a wall with grafitti
Photo by Toa Heftiba Şinca on

4 thoughts on “LGBT lessons and protesting parents”

  1. We have a similar conflict going on in my school district, which recently adopted an inclusive curriculum that teaches students about accepting differences, including those in sexuality. There are a number of students from households that follow a religion that has a fundamentalist interpretation of their sacred texts; their parents have objected furiously to the changes and are now threatening to withdraw their children from the public schools.

    I don’t agree with them and admit, teaching would be easier without having to deal with angry phone calls and emails about “What are you teaching in school these days? I refuse to allow my child to participate in X project or study group because it violates our moral beliefs.” (I was surprised—maybe I shouldn’t have been—when we talked about evolution in a science unit and both the student and his parents told me “Evolution is a hoax and Darwin is the Devil.” You’d think the debate over a basic tenet of science would be over, but it’s not in some circles, I guess.) However, I often work with students from families who are Muslim or are from other countries where same-sex relationships are considered “unnatural.” When I talk to the parents, I hear fear of losing control of their children’s upbringing and loss of their home country’s culture. I try to listen with compassion and try to assuage their anxiety: no one is going to “force” their children to “become gay,” I will never tell a student his or her parents’ beliefs are unacceptable (but they have to extend that tolerance to other students and their parents as well). It’s a tough call, but in the end, as you say, we should give people the freedom to live their lives as long as it does not harm others. It would help if we also taught ethics a la Peter Singer in school, but when we have to spend most of the week prepping students for benchmark testing in April, those smaller but equally valuable lessons get shoved aside. (Which may explain the current state of the world, but that’s another topic altogether….)

    1. That sounds tough. I don’t envy being a teacher in that position and having to deal with very angry parents whose views, if I’m being honest, are totally unacceptable. What is particularly ironic is that many of these same people face discrimination of their own because of their religious beliefs so you’d think they’d be more understanding of others’ differences.

  2. First of all: shame on those parents!
    Secondly: as a teacher myself I do teach that some familys doesn’t look like mom, dad, children. The term family these days are way more complex and gay parents are just a small fraction that differs the core family. Just watch families with divorces parents where one or the other met someone new. Suddenly you have extra moms and extra dads and don’t even get me started about the extra siblings.

    That the core family is the standard is outdated imo. Today it’s more complex than that.

    Love is Love ❤️

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