One man's view of the world, from the top of this great big rock somewhere in the middle of God's Country, with an eye toward freedom....or at least some way to get back down without goin' over the edge.

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Location: West Virginia, United States

Former U.S. Army, SPC E-4, Veteran of Operation Desert Storm. If you are or have ever been a soldier, you have friends in my house.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

A Day at the School of Hard (Rhymes with "Knocks")

Ladies and gentlemen...I sincerely apologize for the delay in my return to these pages. I have been dealing with some problems with a nasty PC virus, and have been necessarily incommunicado.

Well, that...and it's taken me a few days of thought, re-thought, writing and re-writing to put together what you are about to read. Having said that, please forgive me if this is old news to some of you, but I only just heard about it....and I cannot stand by and let it go just because I'm not breaking it first.

FAIR WARNING: Not only is the entry below the dotted line gonna be longer than a Chinese division does contain links to UN-WORK-SAFE and UN-CHILD-SAFE material.
I MEAN IT. Let there be NEITHER a supervisor NOR a child in the room when you read it. You will see why presently.



As adult Americans, in America, we are generally blessed with the right to do as we please in our own homes, as long as we are responsible about it and harm comes to none in the process. At least, that's the way I've always understood it.

Please note the beginning of that sentence: "As ADULT Americans".

Children, out of necessity, do not have nearly the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities as adults. This is because they are "adults-in-training". They do not yet have the age or experience necessary to make informed decisions about how they interact in and with the universe around them.
This is why there are parents. Parents are the buffer zone, the defensive line---the "firewall", if you will----between their children and the crazy, mixed-up, sometimes-beautiful-but-all-too-often-violently-ugly world they are destined to inherit.

This is especially true when the subject comes around (as it must for all of us, eventually) to sex.

And these days (to my utter befuddlement, and I don't think I'm alone here), this means that things like "sexual identity" and "creative experimentation" are going to get brought up.

Yeah, I said "befuddlement". That's because there's a lot of stuff out there now that I did NOT have to deal with as a child in almost ANY form.
You wanna know what I knew about "sexual identity" as a school kid? I knew it was something I didn't HAVE yet.

Show of hands: How many of you parents out there REALLY think you know all about the things your kids are seeing around them?
(Okay, okay, so I can't see your hands. You know who you are.)

The things that should be scaring us the most, though, are not all the new potential threats staring us in the face.
The things that should be scaring us the most....are the ones that try to avoid our gaze altogether.

Now, before someone out there says it, let me give it you straight from the shoulder:
I am NOT a homophobe. Neither is my wife. We have both had, and still do have, gay friends and associates in fair number, most of whom we consider to be honest and good people. We are happy for their friendship, and they for ours.
And if I have anything to say about it, my son won't be a homophobe either.

Here's the kicker to that last statement: My son's exposure to homosexuality, both in concept and observation, will be as much ON MY TERMS as I can make it.
It absolutely HAS to be...because in this day and age, he will find out about it (or it will find him) sooner or later.

What if it finds him when I'm not there to offer counsel?

If you didn't know about the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, and what they are trying to do, before's because it isn't YOU they're aiming at.

GLSEN Boston's 15th Annual Conference was held on April 30 of this year in Brookline High School in Massachusetts. This is how the organizers characterized the aims of this conference:

"2004 was a year of tremendous challenges for the GLBTQ community. The recent elections and numerous anti-gay referendums across the nation made a feeling of intolerance and fear in this country even more palpable, particularly toward GLBTQ students and their families. Despite this rise in overt homophobic sentiment, we at GLSEN Boston believe there is reason to feel hopeful. In Massachusetts, our Supreme Court and many citizens, young and old, have stood up for what is right -- that two people of the same sex have an equal right to marry the one they love and have their families legally recognized and protected. Youth and adults have come together to demand a culture of respect for all individuals and families. At this year's conference we will come together to challenge intolerance and to nurture a sense of hope for safe and respectful school communities."

Okay....I get most of the letters -- Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual -- I even get Transgender.
But.... "Q"? I'm not sure I'm ready for that one -- and I'm almost 35.

Anyway....this conference was touted by GLSEN as being a symposium for:

"Educators (pre-k through high school), high school, middle school and college students, administrators, counselors and therapists, parents, coaches, youth leaders, religious leaders, allies, policy makers, child care and mental health workers, after school program and non-profit staff, school support staff and everyone who is committed to creating safety and teaching respect for all in our schools and communities."

Waitaminnit....did that say "PRE-K"? Why, yes. Yes, it did.

Even so...sounds nice and harmless, doesn't it? (The Boston Globe certainly seems to think so.) Certainly, all people should be interested in providing our children with a safe, respectful school environment....right?

That's not what it sounded like one night at the dinner table to Michael Chuisano, a small-business owner and father of two in suburban Massachusetts, when his daughter described to him some functions that she was made to attend during school hours:

"Our family was sitting around the dinner table, and quite without guile or any particular intention, my daughter--then age 13--told my wife and me about mandatory assemblies she had attended, without request for my permission, as part of "Homophobia Week" activities. In these assemblies, gay men described their political goals and agendas and how they wished to have the right to marry and adopt children.
A Catholic priest had been brought in on the last day as a pretense to balance, but he was almost booed off the stage--so effective had been the pro-gay speakers.
My daughter mentioned that perhaps I 'was homophobic' if I did not agree with the gay activists' goals."

The above quote comes from this article, which I found on the website of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality.

Michael goes on to introduce citizen activist Brian Camenker, also a father of two, who goes into great detail about what he has found in the Massachusetts school district's curriculum. One of the things he relates to us is a series of questions from a certain survey:

One of the things we see a lot are surveys. For instance in Framingham, students were asked the following:
"Is it possible that heterosexuality is a phase you will grow out of?"
"Are you heterosexual because you fear the same sex?"
"If you've never slept with anyone of the same sex, how do you do know you wouldn't prefer it?"
"Is it possible you need a good gay experience?"
Such a survey was given to teenagers at the high school in Framingham, Massachusetts and the principal said, and I quote, "This was not advocacy--just thoughtful and constructive lessons in tolerance."
As part of the same sensitivity curriculum, students were taught that oral and anal sex are "methods of birth control that preserve the concept of virginity."

Now that's strange....When I was in school, the only sex advice I particularly needed was, "Don't do it yet. You're not ready for the possible consequences." I listened, and I am exceedingly glad that I did. That advice kept me out of a WHOLE lotta trouble. But I digress.

So what's really going on here?
Well, like so many other things depends on who you ask.

Nothing wrong here, right? Just a group of people claiming their rightful place in American society, right? Right.

And then....someone from the wrong team gets a look at the playbook.

What book is this, you ask, that causes so much consternation in a school zone? Good question.
In fact, Aids Action Committee director Rebecca Haag says it's a healthy guide for gay men everywhere---and in any case, a high school is the LAST place you would find it:

``This is a very targeted publication for gay men over 18 and it should not be misused. However, it is a very effective public health tool for preventing HIV and AIDS. . . . We never use sexually explicit materials (in the schools.)''

Well, SOMEONE obviously did. Otherwise, a Massachusetts group known as the Article 8 Alliance might not have gotten their hands on it.

And I definitely would not be presenting it to you---here. (Be warned, faithful ones...THIS is the part you don't want your boss or your kids to see. Click at your own risk.)

A couple of notes, if you do decide to take the plunge (pun intended):
1) See if you can find the following phrase: ".....but how much fun is that?"
2) See if you can find the word "SHIGELLA". Look it up.

Today's program was brought to you in part by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Boston Public Health Commission...who helped the AAC create the book you just read.