It happens every year

Bell rings. The morning announcements. All the clubs and activities start going for the year. The African American Club (for all 10 of our African American kids–barring immigrants who cannot understand why they would ever take part in such a thing), the Model UN, Qualha, Gay -Straight Alliance, Celtic Heart…wait what?

The Gay Straight Alliance?

For people from a different country, which would be 100 percent of my classroom, the questions start popping into their heads…what is that?? Is that where they take Straight people and try to make them Gay? Is that where you go if you want to “turn” gay? And then a little derogatory commentary, usually quiet, sometime outspoken. Sometimes a kid is bold enough to speak up…”Teacher what is that?”

I have been very uncertain of precisely what to say in the past. I reiterate respect, but I haven’t punished beyond verbally rebuking disrespect–to teenagers, this is almost nothing many times. They do not know me as a person at this point, only as the teacher. I never know how much to say, what not to say. I have told them that they have gay teachers “WHO? WHO?” and that I have had gay students and that it is “important to be respectful” I hate even typing the words, they sound so teachery and useless to me. I have never taken the time to really consider what is the right thing to say to them.

Let me describe my student population.

  • 42 percent slavic (russian, ukrainian, belorussian, moldovan, romanian)
  • 42 percent spanish speaking (mostly mexican, but not entirely, quite a few Cuban)
  • 10 percent Asian (vietnamese, chinese, one korean once, one filipino once)
  • the rest a broad mix–Indian, Fijian, Tibetan, Sierra Leone, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Congolese, Somalian…

About 90 percent of the Slavic students came here to practice Pentecostal Christianity, and wear the long skirts, wear long hair exclusively, marry at the age of 18, and do things like read the bible during break time. The Latino students, well, they are Latino and as different from Russians as east is to west. By and large, my kids do not come from this “post modern” world…they don’t have a sense of entitlement really, they don’t “demand their rights”. But the notion of political correctness is also enitrely bizarre to them.

But as for homosexuality, they are outspoken in their prejudice almost across the board.

So then, what to say exactly, beyond the stuff that they hear so often they don’t even hear it anymore.

I was thinking about it today and I think I might know now.

It’s just to tell them why. And the why is for when they get jobs. So when they have to work with Joe porno fiend, or Mary the pierced lesbian, or Jimmy the bible thumper…and there are kids at home depending on the money they make, they must get along in the world.

What I can’t tell them that would make alot more sense to them is that the first commandment tells them to love their neighbor as themselves, with no qualification as to what that neighbor might do in their life. Or the same Jesus in whom they profess faith spent the bulk of his time with the most cast out people of that time. And that by command and by example, that is how we are to treat the people around us. But I can’t tell them that, (or can I? any input, readers?) and I also can’t tell them that they are to judge nothing before the appointed time. Though, that is the language that most of them speak, and the language that they listen to and value.

But I can’t say any of that last stuff, officially, I don’t think, according to my civil rights in education class, I am not even allowed to wear a cross around my neck. Which is ridiculous, but hey, if it means that a Satan worshipping teacher can’t talk about how great Satan is to my kids, well then, ok.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. J. Star says:

    I think Wicca would agree that one should love one’s neighbors as oneself…and not to judge, and that everyone has to learn to get along with everyone else despite differences. I was with ya for the whole post right up ’till the end there. 🙂 I do think it’s silly that a rule would dictate that you can’t wear a cross around your neck.

  2. RunningWheel says:

    Why is it that personal topics that a majority of Americans believe to be positive–such as the 10 commandments and the teachings of Christ–are banned from schools, but sketchy stuff like homosexuality, radical governmental views, abortion, etc is allowed in so freely? If you only allow in the bad but deny the good, what can you expect of the outcome?

  3. Heather says:

    Hey, thanks for stopping by! I can’t imagine having to try to decide what to say to that grouping of kids about such a sensitive topic, but what you came up with is pretty impressive. As long as you leave any certain religion out of it, you can tell them all those basic principles, right?

  4. suleyman says:

    Hm. I promise I’ll get to you on that query regarding the Exodus soon. I’ve been busy (I know, bad excuse, right? :). All I can say now is that some scholars think “Red Sea” might actually be “Reed Sea,” which suggests that the body of water they crossed was in fact a tidal basin of some sort in Egypt. The Hebrews were able to cross when the tide was out, but the Egyptians got stuck when the tide came in.Let’s face it, those clubs are just to make college applications look good. It seems odd that the pentecostal gals are in the same class as the guys. We have lots of ’em around here. It’s absurd, but the women wear their loooong hair up in a bun, no make-up, and always ankle-length dresses.I think we should strike a balance. I have no problem with kids learning religion, I feel religious studies courses should be taught in public schools – as a general survey. It would really help a struggling acadmemic field if we could get kids interested in the study of religions early on.Values are the domain of the family, not the state. That also means the state can’t stop my kid from praying or not praying when he wants. Or thinking what he wants. He’d better damn well be thinking! I’d better not catch him asleep in class…Let it be known that I have been chased by Wiccans through backroads while banjo chase music was playing.Oh, and what did you mean when you said this: “So it sounds like you know a little bit more about Japanese culture esp as it relates to the rule of women so if you are up to sharing that.”-Suley

  5. Fitèna says:

    “what is that?? Is that where they take Straight people and try to make them Gay? Is that where you go if you want to “turn” gay?” That made me smile! I know how you feel, really. My mother is Sudanese and to tell you the truth, I sometimes wonder at her … ignorance is too harsh, I’d say unawaresness of the “matters of life” (les choses de la vie).There is this French show called “Les Z’amours”. I love watching it. The concept involves getting to see who knows their lofe parteners more. There are 3 couples. A series of questions are asked to the men in the women’s abscence. The women have to get the answers right in order to score points and vice-versa. Lately, gay couples have been participating. The first time, to tell the truth , made me feel uneasy. My mum worsened things. She said: “how sweet, two sisters playing”. Another day: “Hey Fatma, say, I didn’t know broethers could play too!?” Then this did it: “What, they are not married (that one was a straight couple). I thought the show was meant for married people only. Ok, I get it. They are engaged right?” I said: “No mama, they live together”. She said: “What do you mean they live together, they aremarried of course.!”Then it hit me. My mum has been watching this show for more that 3 years and she had no idea what it was about!!! But maybe it’s because she does not understand French well….Brothers and sisters indeed!!

  6. Jenelle says:

    Gosh, school sure has changed since I was last there…They never even talked about that stuff. Weird…

  7. suleyman says:

    Ok. Here’s what I know about the matter of the “Red Sea.” The Hebrew is “Yam Suf,” which means “Sea of Reeds.” Reeds grow all along the Gulf of Suez and all of the smaller bodies of water in that area due to their proximity to the nile, hence the name. This means that “Red Sea” is either an error of translation or merely a simplification. From what I’ve heard, The term “Red Sea” was also used later to describe the entire maritime area between Egypt and Asia. That is, it referred to what today is the Gulf of Suez, the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Persian Gulf. But the “Reed Sea” mistranslation was pretty standard, even for hellenistic and Roman Jews. I think the matter of Red Sea/Reed Sea may have just arisen out of an ancient tendency to refer to the Reed Sea as part of the Red Sea, even though it is technically a separate body of water.I’ve always heard “wilderness of sin.” That’s all I got right now.Word Verification: pmqcemwc. A Cherokee Indian Chief-Suley

  8. RunningWheel says:

    I agree with you Suleyman. People make a lot of assumptions regarding the Bible, and when evidence does not line up with their assumptions, they say the Bible is flawed.I consider myself an educated man (at least I have tricked my PhD committee into believing this), and so I like to look at all the possible explanations. One reason the experts may not have found the crossing site is that they are looking in the wrong place. A month or so ago I saw a show about the Red Sea crossing on TV (ya know, where everything is fact). Just now I look on google briefly, and I think this is the thing I saw: talks about there really not being a suitable crossing through the Red Sea, since the type of soil under the water would be muddy. This other location has sandy soil under the water, and they also found evidence of Chariot wheels.

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