Homosexuality and Public Policy
Article ID: 2137
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 6,962
Times Read: 17,420
Posted: April 3rd. 1998
Times Viewed: 17,420
I watch a lot of C-Span coverage. The television is usually turned on to channel 99 here in Clearwater for most of the day. Last night (Thursday April 2), it seems The "Traditional Values Coalition" talked C-Span into covering their sit down dinner and forum on "Homosexuality and Public Policy." I had never seen this TVC group in action before. I hope I never do again.
After an introductory speech by TCV chairman, Rev. Lou Sheldon, the program immediately brought out its "big gun." Was it a political activist? A government official? A Religious Right leader?
No. Their "big gun" stood at the podium in the shape of a young girl about 12 years old with wide eyes and long shiny hair.
You see, the main tenets of The Traditional Values Coalition are to-" support "reparative therapy" and counseling for those desiring to leave the homosexual lifestyle and to oppose local, state and national legislation granting special rights for homosexuals." (TVC "California Voters Guide")
This young girl stood at the podium and bravely recounted her story. She is being raised in a Christian home with parents who are concerned about her. She knows right from wrong. She openly declares herself a "born again" believer. She is secure in her beliefs.
And then one day, she finds out that her teacher is gay.
It happened after the "outing" episode of "Ellen," the little girl reads from her notes. Shortly after the "Ellen" show aired, her teacher asked the class what they thought about the episode. "Is it O.K. to be gay?' Pro or Con." Somewhere in the discussion, the teacher also revealed that she herself was gay.
The California teacher, according to this girl's testimony, then deliberately singled the girl out to question because she said that she knew "how your parents are raising you." The little girl began to cry.
She says she cried because she was embarrassed to be singled out that way. She said she cried because while she had heard rumors that her teacher may be gay, she was forced very publicly to have to acknowledge this fact. She cried because she knew that being gay was wrong.
The little girl went home and told her parents what had happened. She knew that they would be upset. They had filed an "opt out" form with the school that their child would not be exposed to pro-homosexual materials.
They were upset.
Her parents demanded a meeting with the teacher and the school. They went through legal channels to censor the school for not following their expressed wishes for the child's curriculum to be honored. The story got into the newspapers. There was public moral outrage on both sides of the issue. I am sure that the little girl cried a lot during those times.
She cried again when she got to the end of her presentation last night. Being publicly embarrassed in school is just wrong. Being thrust out into a media spotlight at such a young age is wrong, too. All because her teacher is gay and that is really, really wrong. She left the podium in tears.
The program continued as the little girl's father spoke about all the trials and tribulations of being a parent in this ungodly age- the persecution and death threats that he and his family has received, the media coverage that has been less than kind to their cause and the resulting finding in the legal case that no real harm had been done to his daughter by the teacher or school system. His daughter was standing here crying, wasn't she?
Then a fire fighter come forward. He may lose his job after distributing anti-gay literature while on the job. His new fire chief happens to be a lesbian. He had been ordered to stop handing out the pamphlets. It could undermine the new chief's authority and make her job more difficult. He kept handing them out and demonstrated against her at her official swearing-in ceremony. He may be fired. What a travesty!
Another lowlight was the appearance of gospel singers, Debbie and Angie Winans. ''There's a spirit that is a homosexual spirit. It's unclean and not of God,'' they said. ''That spirit is the enemy. It's a strong spirit, it's deceitful.'' The Winans sisters created a stir last fall with a song called ''Not Natural'' that includes an anti-gay verse. They peddled contact information to those present at the forum who wanted to buy their tape.
It was a very sad and hate-filled program. Wearing their moral outrage like the perfectly coifed hair of Paula Jones' advisor Susan Carpenter McMillan, the attendees called for the return of "family values." What they overlooked, of course, was the fact that the lesbian fire chief and the gay teacher probably have families, too. I don't know what their families thought about this program.
But my mind kept returning to the image of that little girl crying at the podium. I heard the words that she spoke. She has undoubtedly given this speech before. She has the support of her parents and the Traditional Values Coalition. As I recalled the reasons that she gave to explain her tears, I suddenly realized what was missing from her story.
How does a young child who likes-and even admires-her teacher come to grips with the sudden realization that her teacher has been declared by her parents and her faith as the embodiment of evil?
A long held supposition in the Pagan community has been that if people come to know us first as good honest folks that when they find out that we are Pagan, it will not make any difference. We may have been wrong about that.
Confronting complex issues- such as the conflict which can arise when a long held assumption turns out to be wrong- is a difficult job even for adults. To find out that a personal hero or mentor may really be a liar or a thief can shake the very foundations of a person's belief system. What one thought was good turns out to be bad. What one put trust in has betrayed that trust. These things can leave deep and lasting scars on a person's psyche.
As I thought about this young girl's tears, I wondered what she really thinks about her teacher. Not about the issue itself or what her parents have coached her to say or what effect this may have on her Christian faith. But how does she really feel now?
Has she been able to reconcile the warmth that she may have felt toward her teacher with this new thought: Should the teacher decide not to undergo the TVC prescribed counseling to change her sexual orientation that her teacher is no longer worthy of her love?
Has she been able to understand her own horror that a valued mentor turned out not to be not a role model to be admired, but someone that her faith denounces as the worst sort of Satanic enemy?
How does she deal with the fact that the feelings of love and admiration she may once have felt for this woman-because of the misguided and hateful agenda of organizations like The Traditional Values Coalition- must now be twisted into a public display of revulsion and anger?
This little girl has just learned that her faith- a faith that preaches of love and forgiveness-is also a faith that teaches hate and intolerance.
No wonder she was crying. I was crying, too...
Walk in Light and Love,
The Witches' Voice - Clearwater, Florida
Location: Tampa, Florida
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