During my class this evening, a thought entered my head. (No need to start gritting your teeth folks, this isn’t leading to a pun. At least, I don’t think it will. My mind works in mysterious and frightening ways…)
The class was discussing and listing points of diversity as they pertained to integrating into a school’s curriculum. One of the items listed was sexual orientation. The application and understanding of what diversity actually is is not the point of my thought here. This is (mostly) a semantics question, however it is indeed interwoven into teaching this aspect of humanity.
First of all, I pose the question, can we come up with a different term than ‘sexual orientation’. One point for asking is just that it is so bloody long. Under the heading of diversity, which really means differences in culture when it’s boiled down, one gets race, ethnicity, gender, language, etc. Then there’s the big sexual orientation. I guess I can’t really complain about the length, because we also use the term socioeconomic status. Of course, that could be simplified to be wealth, but too often that term means the abundance of, not the last thereof.
Anyway, next on my mental ramblings. My big hang up here is the sexual half of the term. Yes, one’s gaiety or straightitude relates to one’s sexuality. But I think the integration of the word sex into one’s identity throws things off. This becomes an accentuation of some people’s problems with sex education in schools as well. And I think that to better ease, or at least deceive, some minds into handling gay relationships is to remove sex from the equation. Once you remove the idea of two people of the same sex having sex with one another and leave it alone as an idea of two people in love (yes, I’m limiting my arguments to monogamy for the sake of simplicity), it’s a much easier thing to grasp and tolerate.
I think part of what brings this whole thing to a head for me is part of the context in which sexual orientation in education was brought up. We were presented with a scenario of a 4th Grade teacher explaining to his class about peoples’ differences and to make a point brought up the fact he was gay. Very well then. Of course, the uproar ensued (in this scenario) and we were placed on the group to figure out how to handle this and integrate teaching sexual orientation in the curriculum.
So my mind immediately went to my kids. As a parent, how would I want this to be taught in school? Mainly, I’d prefer it not to be ‘taught’. I’d rather it just ‘be’. I’d rather my son go over to Jimmy’s house, whose daddies are John and James, and that’s just that (other than my wanting to meet any parents of the house where my kid is playing). But since we still have to learn to tolerate, let’s figure out how.
This is about the point where I decided, at least for the elementary ages, I want the relationship desired to be separate from sex desired. A nine year old, I think, is better served not knowing about sex at all, let alone the variety of methods in which is occurs. So leave that out. I think it’s best explained that this person’s mommy wanted to be a mommy with another mommy, rather than be a mommy with a daddy. Of course, that lends itself to the other can of worms that lots of kids have a mommy who is an alone mommy whose situation may or may not have been a choice.
At least you can see the level of thought I’m working at. I’d even prefer to not bring up that some girls like other girls. But that may just be my stickler viewpoint of kids avoiding relationships of any nature outside of friendships until they are in their late teen years (or just my personal naivety through those ages).
This is all nice and roundabout back to the term sexual orientation. To teach this relationship preference (preference is a poor word too, since it sounds like a choice, and this is I guess only a choice of who you want to be with, not what you find attractive). I think at least relationship preference is better phrasing for children. Perhaps familial preference? It can at least be there promoting a solid family structure.
Any ideas, folks?
This is an open and vague question, really. It all can get sticky fast, and I didn’t even touch on how this is a different aspect of diversity from all others, since it occurs in all populations and manifests differently in different cultures.
Of course, maybe we can just leave it to advertising companies:
(I think this ad is fabulous. Mum’s accent puts it over the top for me.)