Some of you may remember a radical decision made by California delegates last year that shook many a conservative foundation. The bill (signed into law by California governor Jerry Brown in July) aimed to make mandatory the inclusion of teaching students about Americans within the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgender) community who have contributed to the growth and progress of our nation. Important Americans with disabilities were also included in the bill, which was decided to take effect come 2012.
Of course, as is almost always the case, several groups expressed their outrage with the law. The Traditional Values Coalition, perhaps the most vocal opponent of the new law, was quick to share its opinion by way of Chairman and founder, “Reverend” Louis Sheldon. Sheldon went on record as saying, in so many words, that this law should provoke sensible parents into removing their children from public schools.
Now, two months into 2012 (when the law takes effect), the controversy still rages.
My Two Cents
I get it, Louis Sheldon (though not a person of faith, I find it an insult to the title to refer to you as a reverend); change is scary… But, are we still making this the focus of so much concern when more important facets of our society are failing? Even taking the passion so many naysayers possess into account, I cannot wrap my mind around this opposition. I am not one to attack any person for their choice of faith, but, as the child of a Baptist Minister, I can confidently say that there is no logical religious wall to hide behind in this fight.
My biggest beef with the Traditional Values Coalition’s stance is that it directly violates the core values bestowed upon us by our forefathers. Last time I checked, Americans were all considered to be equals – regardless of one’s faith, color, or creed. The opening line of our treasured Declaration of Independence addressed this stance rather bluntly:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Surely those words are capable of speaking for themselves.
I have to wonder who the Traditional Values Coalition is actually trying to “protect” with all of their posturing. Louis Sheldon insists that every decision his group makes comes from an unwavering desire to protect the minds and moral purity of our children… But, I certainly beg to differ.
How does teaching our children about important, influential Americans who hail from the LGBT community impact the moral decency of our children? The simple act of learning about influential figures won’t influence children to behave “immorally”. I certainly never found myself wanting to follow in Hitler’s footsteps when learning about the good he did for the people of Germany while, at the same time, committing immeasurable atrocities. I also feel confident in saying that no one has ever “turned” homosexual because people spoke highly of a particular individual of that persuasion.
More importantly, the Traditional Values Coalition fails to see that a person’s sexual preference is not the sole focus on the educational reform taking place in California. The aim is to discourage any discrimination that would seek to refuse giving due credit to men and women in this country, simply because they live under alternative lifestyles. It won’t be a matter of flaunting one’s sexual orientation in the faces of students, while mentioning their accomplishments and contributions to our country as a minor footnote.
Perhaps the simplest way to explain how this will work is to look at how influential African Americans are mentioned in our history books. The focus is always upon their contributions to our nation and the world as a whole. Their status as oppressed citizens receives mention only if it has a bearing within the context their accomplishment. Take Rosa Parks, for instance. Her action would have carried much less weight had she been a Caucasian defying the popular social construct of segregation. Sure, she would have been spoken about while housewives dished out scandalous gossip, but she would not have incited a revolution.
Most importantly, however, is the harm we are doing to our children by teaching them to discriminate. The basic aim of being a parent (aside from protecting our children from danger) is to raise well-adjusted human beings. We all desire for our children to grow up to make a difference, to impact the world in positive ways – to achieve things we could have never foreseen.
What good are we doing our children by telling them a person’s worth is measured by who they love, not what they achieve? Who can we count on to keep lit the torch of compassion and love as humanity treks onward into centuries unknown? My faith certainly won’t be wasted on the descendants of hate-mongers like Louis Sheldon.
Jordan Siron is a freelance writer/blogger living in Orlando, FL. As a devout Humanist he will save the dates of all human contributions, no matter who makes them.