Friday, June 10, 2011

From a Minority's Perspective

A local high school has started (finally, in my opinion) a Gay-Straight Alliance chapter and it appears to have caused a bit of a stir. I really don't understand the opposition to a group of students getting together, gay and straight, to support one another. As it was stated in the newspaper, The Citizen Patriot, the "GSA groups offer students a safe place to talk, provide teens with resources and information that can help them make better decisions, and make a statement to the rest of the school community that LGBT students are valued as much as any other student." Sounds good to me.

To those opposed, please understand that the reality is that students who are gay are part of a minority and minorities need to be protected. I recently read a blurb in a national magazine that stated there are far fewer people who are gay in our country than most people think. Some people put the estimate at 25%, but those Americans who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is really at 3.8%.

Of course there is the argument that being gay is a choice. Oy. Another book has been published in 2011, Gay, Straight and the Reason Why, by Simon LeVay, that evaluates research showing the biological differences between people who are heterosexual and people who are homosexual. I think it's been made pretty clear that one does not choose their sexuality. One's sexuality is comparable to one's race - and schools have chapters celebrating racial differences: Latinos in Action, Black Student Union, Asian Student Association, which offer students the opportunity to spread awareness and understanding, while receiving support from their peers.

One parent is quoted in the paper as saying about the GSA, "They shouldn’t get to push it down other students’ necks," but isn't heterosexuality pushed down their necks all the time? As my friend, Tom McMillen-Oakley, wrote in his response to the article, "I would like to point out to the student (wanting to start a heterosexual group) that they already have many opportunities and venues for support, an option not always enjoyed by LGBT youth." Again, I compare it to race. We have months designated to the historical efforts of minority racial groups, because the majority of the time is spent learning about the efforts of the white people in our country.

I often tell people that one reason I am so glad to have lived in Utah (aside from its beauty) is that it gave me the chance to be a minority. I remember leaving a job interview after being told that I would not be hired because I was not part of the majority. I was angry - not because I didn't get the job, but because this person felt he had the right to make me feel less than I was, since he had the support of the majority. It's a pretty comfortable place to be - surrounded by those of like mind, reinforcing the belief that your way of life is normal and everyone else is wrong. I suggest if you are in that position, you branch out of your comfort zone a wee bit.

I do not know what it is like to be gay and I am pretty sure I inadvertently perpetuate the idea that heterosexuality is normal. It does me good to hear of groups such as the GSA, to help me realize that there is a need to accept and protect others. I love that my daughter can attend a high school that has a group educating everyone that homosexuality is normal. The more exposure we get to that fact, the better off we will all be and perhaps one day there won't be a need for a GSA, but until that time I say rock on enlightened students of Columbia High School!

1 comment:

  1. I have to make a comment. Great job. Well written and well thought out. I would like to point out that white privileged is not specifically oriented around race. Heterosexual and Caucasian people can support the minorities and use white privilege to broaden perspectives with this support.