The 3-Letter Word That Will Keep Schools From Teaching Kids about Queers


From Maine to Washington State to Washington D.C., the Anti-Gays are on a fearmongering campaign against abstracts (like same-sex marriage laws) and human beings (like Kevin Jennings), warning these totems of the gay agenda will serve to indoctrinate America’s children into the homosexual lifestyle. But a bigger question remains: Yeah, so what?


We’ve spent much effort arguing that giving Maine’s gays the right to marry, or letting Kevin Jennings hold the (manufactured) title of “safe school czar” will not, as the religious right claims, mean school kids will learn about gay families and gay sex and gay sexuality and Will & Grace. But with one notable exception, why is it such a big deal if they did?

It isn’t.

We’re big fans of concepts like the separation of church and state. Also: Using the classroom to instruct in academics. But it’s foolish to think that, especially in lower grades, schools are not also where children learn right from wrong, how to interact socially with others, and how diversity does not mean segregation. Schools, then, are the ideal environment to give children a place to learn about families that may not mirror theirs exactly. These aren’t “alternative lifestyles”; they’re just different. And it’s time kids learn that “different” does not mean “weird” or “gross.”

It’s that supposition that has New York University history and education professor Jonathan Zimmerman arguing for the “full and free airing of the question [‘What’s wrong with being gay?’] in America’s high schools. Bring in speakers from GLSEN and other gay rights organizations, and pair them against representatives from conservative groups. And may the best man – or woman – win.”


But we’d argue it’s time to start incorporating a discussion of the G-word even earlier.

Grade school textbooks are no longer filled with only white men (though that demographic still represents a disproportionate number of pages). Black, Latino, and American Indian historical figures are now included. Female leaders are in the mix, too. And yes, gays can be found in a history textbook, but with their personal lives washed out. Imagine a story about George Washington sans Martha? So why not include Peter Doyle in Walt Whitman’s section?

The fearmongering campaign from zealots, and the innate reluctance from education moderates that keeps this from happening is the immediate connection between homosexuality and sex. Because that three-letter word is included in every discussion about gays and lesbians, it’s easy to scare parents and community leaders and academia as a whole from seriously engaging young people in an education about people who are not heterosexual. Algebra problems that make use of boyfriends and girlfriends (e..g splitting the check on a date) don’t inherently involve a discussion about sex, because hetero partners are the norm. So why can’t we encourage educators to, every now and then, throw in two girlfriends in a proof? Use Jon and Jacob’s names in an example about Spanish verb endings? Mention Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir when discussing heads of state?

First graders learn about classmates’s mommies and daddies, from what they do at work to how many siblings they provided their sons and daughters. It has nothing to do with putting penises in vaginas. Discussing the families of same-sex parents, then, needn’t have anything to do with genitalia and orifices, either. At least not until ninth grade health class. But until we get over the s-e-x part of queer identity, we’ll continue bolstering the bigoted arguments that make us “weird.”

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #children #education #kevinjennings stories and more


  • Willie Hewes

    This is so obvious I’m confused it even needs saying.

    The response to the Yes on 1 ads should have been “teaching kids about diversity is good” not “we’re not teaching them anything, what are you talking about?”

  • YellowRanger

    “It’s that supposition that has New York University history and education professor Jonathan Zimmerman arguing for the “full and free airing of the question [‘What’s wrong with being gay?’] in America’s high schools. Bring in speakers from GLSEN and other gay rights organizations, and pair them against representatives from conservative groups. And may the best man – or woman – win.”

    That sounds good until you get to the part about pairing them with some kind of bigoted, conservative opposition. You wouldn’t invite a grand wizard of the KKK to balance out a class on racial tolerance. Why should this be any different?

  • terrwill

    The real number of letters which is what keeps the Gays on the radar of the rightwing-nutbags is four. It all really boils down to a four letter word which is: CASH. The scary Gays and the immmediacy in the need to fight the “Gay agenda” has proven to be the biggest fund raising tool for these tool bags ever. Even a more successful revenue generator than the “Black power” agenda which only recently has been proven toxic for even these lowlifes. The fear instilled by these lunatics on the loonytoons on the right has made the Michael (don’t call me my real last name Weiner) Savage, Maggie (the cunt) Gallagher, Rush Windbag and countless others millions of dollars. What is so scary is that these semi-intelligent loonytoons are so easily manipulated and so quick to whip out the checkbook to send cash to these lunatics……………………….

  • Sean Chapin

    I put together a response video to a Stand For Marriage Maine TV Ad arguing that it’s important that we teach about gay parents in school:

    “Gay people, gay couples and gay parents with children exist in our society and are entitled to dignity and respect. If our schools teach about families with two moms or two dads, that is out of respect for the gay families that exist. And if a teacher teaches about these families, it is with the purpose that those students gain an understanding of these families. There is a difference between understanding something and going beyond that understanding. A girl thats allergic to peanuts can learn about peanuts in school, but that doesnt mean she will eat peanuts when she gets home because of what she learned. A Jewish boy can learn about hot dogs in school and see other kids eat hot dogs during lunch, but that doesnt mean that he will also eat hot dogs if he follows a Kosher diet. A Christian child can learn about gay marriage, and the Christian child can be in the same class as another child who has two moms or two dads who are married to each other, but that doesnt mean that the child will also believe in gay marriage. Whether we agree or disagree with marriage equality, we are smart enough to know the difference between believing in something and understanding something, and we are secure that our beliefs will not be compromised by our understanding of subjects and concepts. After all, we are all Americans – we are the land of the free and the home of the brave. If some people disagree with marriage equality, they can be brave enough to respect us for our differences. To ensure dignity and respect for all people, vote No on 1.”

  • Cam

    The thing that is so crazy is this..

    1. 11 year old boy gets a crush on a girl in class or steals copy of Playboy from store. Nobody says “He’s just going through a phase, maybe he’ll like boys next year.

    2. 11 year old girl has crush on Zak Effron, the Jonas Brothers etc… nobody says “Oh, it’s just a phase, she’ll grow out of it and like women next year.

    3. 11 year old boy gets a crush on his best friend, or trys to steal a Playgirl type magazine, people say “It’s just a phaze, he’ll outgrow it.

    4. 11 year old girl gets a crush on her best friend or on Ana Kornikova etc… and everybody says “Oh, it’s just a phase, she’ll outgrow it.”

    Until people realize that gay doesn’t equal phase they will continue to come up with idiotic comments about keeping kids from learning Gay exists. The reason it seems like it can be a phase is because kids just learn to hide it better once their parents freak out when they are honest about their crushes.

Comments are closed.