Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Double Standards, Confusion: What Subjects are "OK"? Homosexuality? NOT!

It is confusing enough to be either a student or teacher in todays politically charged environment, but one would think that it would be okay to maturely discuss tolerance toward gays and lesbians in high school. If you are from some communities in America, you would would be mistaken as freedom of the press apparently does not extend to some subjects that offend the religious sensibilities of a public high school.

That's right. In Woodburn, IN a teacher was suspended for failure to ask for specific approval of a student column promoting such tolerance.

It was the usual practice Woodlan Junior-Senior High School to submit "anything controversial" for prior censorship to the principal. School newspaper teacher Amy Sorrell figured the articles on teen pregnancy, teen motherhood and sexually transmitted diseases would be controversial, so she submitted them to her principal before publishing. No problem there. But she didn't submit an article she considered less controversial promoting tolerance of homosexuals.

It never occurred to her that attention from state and national news would cause her principal to suspend her.

"If we can talk about herpes and gonorrhea on one page, we should be able to talk about tolerance on the next page," says Sorrell, who doesn't believe she did anything wrong.

Commentary: If teachers and students are put in a position of prior restraint in the first place, it should be a hint that their independent decisions are subject to arbitrary moralization. In this society where children can watch hundreds of people being killed in a graphic fashion in a horror movie or one that glorifies war, but can't be trusted to process 1 second images of Janet Jackson's nipple, I guess it should be no surprise that tolerance of homosexuals would be preposterous.

What is a teacher to do? The safest answer, nothing and that's how we got where we are. Teachers are under such scrutiny that they either choose not to enter the profession or if they do, they choose to water down the curriculum so much that it has no parallel to the larger society for which they pretend to prepare students.

It is no wonder the teachers who get the best report cards are those who make things unchallenging, uncontroversial, and often uninformed.

More details in the Indy Star

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