Recently, a principal in South Carolina recently announced he was resigning over the establishment of a GSA at his school. His reasoning (thanks to BlackTsunami for the quote) is as follows:
“The formation of this club conflicts with my professional beliefs in that we do not have other clubs at Irmo High school based on sexual orientation, sexual preference, or sexual activity. In fact our sex education curriculum is abstinence based. [JH comments: I’ll try to leave aside the question of how saying “don’t have sex” qualifies as “education” for now.] I feel the formation of a Gay/Straight Alliance Club at Irmo High school implies that students joining the club will have chosen to or will choose to engage in sexual activity with members of the same sex, opposite sex, or members of both sexes.
To be honest, this is not a new argument. I’ve seen many anti-gay people refer to GSA’s as “sex clubs.” It’s as if the only thing that they can imagine kids doing during a GSA meeting is discussing (or worse, having) sex. I suppose this shouldn’t be surprising, as anti-gay people seem to get hung up on that whole sex thing themselves, so they automatically assume gay people are equally hung up on it.
However, in the case of a GSA, I can only assume that people making such an assumption have never actually talked to a gay teen. Quite frankly, there are a lot of other things that fall pretty high on the list of things they need to talk about. Let’s just run down a partial list:
- Concerns over how they’re going to meet their ideal boyfriend or girlfriend when they’re already limited to 2-3% of the population as even remote possibilities. (Hey, I’m in my thirties and sometimes I worry about that one.)
- Concerns about how their parents will react. (Even gay-affirming parents can be taken aback when their own child comes out to them.)
- Concerns of how to deal with teasing, name-calling, and bullying from other classmates.
- Concerns about how to safely figure out if you can tell the cute boy in gym class that you think he’s cute without getting yourself beaten up in the process.
- Concerns about dealing with people’s strange and sometimes inappropriate questions.
- Questions on what they can do to ensure a better life for themselves and other LGBT people.
- Figuring out what their sexual orientation actually is. (Thanks for the suggestion, Rose)
- Taking comfort in the knowledge they’re not alone or the only one going through this. (Thanks for the suggestion, Erin.)
(Note: If any gay teens or gay adults who remember their teen years would like to suggest additions to this list, I’d be happy to keep it growing.
Quite frankly, there are a lot of things to talk about when it comes to being gay, especially when you’re young and life in general is confusing and uncertain. So this idea that gay kids are just going to sit around discussing sex or hooking up to have sex is so far from reality that it’s not even in the same universe.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the topic of sex won’t ever come up. (Heck, I’m not even saying that no kids will ever meet at a GSA meeting and decide to enter into a sexual relationship.) We’re talking about teens with raging hormones and lots of questions, after all. But at the same time, I think these discussions are more likely to focus on the kinds of things that should’ve been covered in a decent sex ed class, anyway. (You know, one that says more than “don’t have sex.”) Like any other kid, they’re going to want to know about health risks. And they might even want to know about where and how love and sex might intersect. They’re not going to be looking for a how-to manual. (If that’s all they wanted, they could jump on their favorite P2P network and download a couple dozen videos.)
And ultimately, I think this is where those who oppose the formation of a GSA do both the children and their own ideals a great disservice. A GSA provides an opportunity for adult involvement in such discussion. It provides an opportunity for discussions about ethics, responsibility, and many other topics. It provides an opportunity to offer guidance and provide proper role models.
The problem is, anti-gay people automatically assume that there are no ethics involved in same sex relationships. They think there’s no such thing as a good gay role model. They think homosexuality is nothing more than a den of complete depravity.
The problem is, their actions only serve to create that reality they think already exists. In the end, they’re part of the problem.