The one word that seems to come up over and over in reaction to this newly amplified dialogue is the strangely ambiguous word “agenda.”
In a recent New York Times article discussing responses to efforts to augment school curricula with lessons on tolerance for homosexuality and other non-traditional orientations, the following idea was quoted: “Liberals and gay rights groups are using the antibullying banner to pursue a hidden homosexual agenda.”
Likewise, online IDS commenters have several times echoed this sentiment, addressing what they think is a hidden — or not so well hidden — pro-gay agenda pushed by me and other members of the opinion staff.
What exactly constitutes a homosexual agenda? A ‘pro-gay agenda’ is a bit more accurate in its description, but it remains unclear whether we’re supposedly supporting rights or orgies.
The very idea of a hidden homosexual agenda reeks of serious, archaic misconceptions about what it means to be gay, such as the sadly popular idea that it has some infectious component transmittable by idea or physical contact. Or worse, that just like terrorists, there are somehow sleeper cells of homosexuals in every corner just waiting for the right moment to ambush and convert one’s children.
Other quotes from the New York Times article include a genuinely alarmed mother at a school board meeting who feared the new tolerance curriculum would “promote acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle,” and a further critic who stated the curriculum was immoral in that it would “promote homosexual lessons.”
Over and over, religious opponents to the new curriculum reiterated the crux of their argument against the new tolerance instruction was simply this: “Christians don’t want schools to teach subjects that are repulsive to their values.”
First of all, acceptance is kind of the point. If that’s all there is to this supposed agenda, then I’m glad to be being accused of furthering it.
Second, I have to admit that I wasn’t aware that you had to take a course to be gay. I mean, really, what on earth is a homosexual lesson? Irrational fears certainly seem to peek out from beneath many of the critical accusations.
And third, last time I checked, Christianity and tolerance were definitely supposed to go hand in hand. What ever happened to that?
Now, I’m not the first person to stand up and say that getting stuck in an argument isn’t the way to go about changing things — that pushing an agenda isn’t the same as having a conversation.
And yes, some gay rights groups might suffer from the kind of repetitiveness that leads to ineffectiveness.
However, standing up for civil rights during an era in which they are being challenged is not a hidden agenda — it’s a very openly-held principle in the minds of many Americans, including myself.
It’s not the only thing on my mind. Certainly not. But it is one thing that is, and should be, clear as day in its solution. There’s no training needed; there’s no knowledge of history needed; there’s no understanding of scientific concepts needed.
There is only the realization that no matter how politically charged the idea of gay rights becomes, it always comes down to just one thing in principle: Do we believe in equality, or don’t we?
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