Monday, March 25, 2013

Education and Same-Sex Marriage

Ed Week has an interesting article here discussing that possible consequences for teaching if the Supreme Court decides in favor of same-sex marriage.

I taught high school English in Massachusetts for 28 years.  Here’s the thing.  Yes, gay and lesbian issues do occasionally come up in English classes.  But that ended up being a small issue.  The larger issue is the hostile climate that can pervade a school when discrimination is allowed in the society as a whole.

When I first started teaching there, it was not uncommon to hear pejoratives hurled at gay and lesbian students in the halls and even in the classrooms.  Before gay marriage even became legal, my school system decided that it must educate students that gay and lesbian students were equal in every way to straight students, to try to overcome the hostile climate. 

A school that allows a hostile climate for gay and lesbian students, or for the children of same-sex unions, is opening itself to a lawsuit.  Children must be able to access their right to a free, public education, and a hostile climate can prevent them from exercising that right.

Obviously, there is just so much that a school system can do, but to protect itself from a lawsuit it must be seen as making a good faith effort to ensure that all students can learn in a safe, accepting environment.  I’m guessing that, whatever the outcome of these upcoming court cases, schools are going to have to educate to ensure a safe environment.

No comments:

Post a Comment