Thursday, October 23, 2008

The "What About the Children?" Double-Standard

I've been reading over and over again about how "marriage defenders" in California object to marriage equality because if same-sex couples are allowed to marry, then children will be taught about same-sex marriage in schools. For instance, the "Yes on 8" Voter Guide says that Proposition 8 is necessary because:

"It protects our children from being taught in public schools that 'same-sex marriage' is the same as traditional marriage."

Many "marriage defenders" such iProtectmarriage have jumped on this bandwagon saying things like:

"Public schools are required to teach the role of marriage in society. If Prop. 8 passes, that won't change. If Prop. 8 does not pass, children as young as kindergarteners must be taught about same-sex marriage."

Yes on 8's Frank Shubert has claimed that equality advocates believe that "gay marriage should be taught to children in school."

All I can say is, that's it?

First off, what does it even mean to "teach gay marriage" to children? "Marriage defenders" don't want children to learn about how same-sex couples can get married too even if it is a factual statement? What is the inherent harm in "teaching gay marriage"? It has been my experience that disgust and disapproval of same-sex relationships is a learned response, rather than one that children are born with. Besides, let's get real here, it's not like informing children about marriage necessitates detailed conversations about coitus and anal sex. How in-depth do people think these oh-so-nuanced and intellectual conversations about same-sex and opposite-sex marriage with "kindergarteners" get?

Anyway, the fact is local school districts control curriculum and state law permits parents to withdraw their children from lessons they find objectionable. Get a grip, people.

Wait, [re-reading iProtectmarriage's quote] what is this iProtectmarriage website anyway?

Oh. Right.

As I wrote about previously, it's the hip and tech-savvy "marriage defense" website aimed at youth.

Now, since this site has a presence on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and Youtube its target audience is more likely to be teenagers than "kindergarteners." But still. Young kids these days have a strong presence on the internets. That's why I think "marriage defenders" should be clear. They should be explicit with respect to what they're really objecting to when it comes to Indoctrinating Our Youths. When "marriage defenders" whip their masses into a frenzy about the prospect of teachers informing kids about same-sex marriage, what they really mean to say is that they don't want young children to learn that it's okay for two people of the same-sex to get married. That would go against their own very clear message that it's not okay for two people of the same-sex to marry. Youth, you see, can learn about homosexuality. As long as the message is carefully controlled and placed in a disapproving framework.

For instance, while this movement says out of one corner of its mouth that oh dear god the children should not learn about the mere existence of same-sex couples/marriages, they're trolling around on the internet trying to sway kids against equality by citing the rates of HIV/AIDS among gay men, as though that is in any way relevant to marriage. And, while "marriage defenders" believe that children definitely should not learn about how gay people exist, this movement hypocritically believes that kids should definitely learn about how "If same-sex marriage stays legal, nothing prevents the legalization of polygamy and incest" and how marriage will become "whatever anyone thinks it is, and that includes extreme stuff like polygamy, man-boy love, and multiple partners."


I think I get it now. It's not okay to teach kids about same-sex marriage but it is okay to promote dishonest propaganda and asinine slippery slope arguments in order to vilify same-sex couples as playing a key role in the End of the World!

Thanks for clearing this up, Prop 8'ers.

And another thing. Maybe if "marriage defenders" didn't constantly compare gay men and lesbians to polygamists, pedophiles, and polyamorists and unnecessarily fixate on our sex lives, they could envision a youth-friendly discussion about gay people that does not entail a detailed discussion about sex. It's really too bad that "marriage defenders" project their own shortcomings with respect to this inability onto children, most of whom are far more willing, capable, and ready than adults to understand benign concepts like "Ellen and Portia love each other like your mommy and daddy love each other. Now, who wants to learn their ABCs?"

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