Some good news from the US Supreme Court this week: Schools do not have to tolerate discrimination. Sound like a radical decision? If you believe the dissenters you'd think that free speech as we know it is about to fall to pieces. Don't be fooled.
The question was whether or not a student organization that intended to exclude gay and lesbian students was entitled to official recognition as a student club, a status which would entitle them to use of school resources (funding, computers, facilities), and use of the school's name and logo. The school is Hastings College of the Law and the student organization is the Christian Legal Society.
Lawyers for Hastings argued that it was simply enforcing a policy that required all official student organizations to be open to all Hastings students. (Actually, as the editorial page of the New York Times points out, first they asserted that the club violated their nondiscrimination policy, then later shifted strategies to focus on the narrower "all comers" policy which says that student clubs must be open to all interested students.) Lawyers for the CLS students argued that the policy in question violated students' rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of religion.
This morning over breakfast I was reading the New York Times (ah, the delights of spring break!) when this headline caught my eye: Mississippi A.C.L.U. Rejects $20,000 for Alternate Prom.
You might remember that earlier this month I wrote a blog called Homophobia: Bad for Straight Kids discussing the decision of a Mississippi school board to cancel its prom because they could not otherwise prevent Constance McMillen and her partner from attending. (They also forbade her from attending in a tuxedo. This is not just about homophobia. This is also about gender expression.)
The ACLU and its Mississippi affiliate are representing Constance and a group called Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition (MSCC) is organizing an alternate prom for the community. The ACLU of Mississippi is apparently the fiscal sponsor for the MSSC. According to the New York Times article, the American Humanist Society offered a $20,000 gift to MSSC to help fund the alternate prom, and a fundraiser at the ACLU Mississippi rejected it, explaining via email that “Although we support and understand organizations like yours, the majority of Mississippians tremble in terror at the word ‘atheist."
Talk about being imprisoned by stigma. Here the stigma attached to atheism potentially thwarts an attempt to fix a problem caused by the stigma attached to homosexuality.
At the beginning of the semester, my son brought home a permission slip to attend his Sex Ed class. My first thought was, "Oh, good. I hope they catch anything I forgot to tell him, clear up anything I might have..." And that's about where that thought died. I suddenly remembered I was standing in North Carolina, where they don't actually teach Sex Ed, but rather propagandize a useless religious doctrine.
There are few things in the world that get under my skin like superstition used as an excuse to hurt kids. Abstinence Only Mis-education is such a case.
It's not the teachers' fault, in North Carolina they are prohibited from educating our youth by state law. The law is clearly unconstitutional, though the religious fervor that blinds America has not yet subsided enough to hope for a successful court challenge to it here.
But regardless of blame, I had a decision to make about my son.
I just read this announcement at Waking Vixen and it fit so well here. Since it ended with the words "Please circulate this widely," I'm doing exactly that. (You will also recall that I posed in a calendar that is being sold as a fundraiser for Sex Work Awareness, the group that is sponsoring the workshop described below. You can donate here and for $10 you can have your very own 2009 NYC Sex Blogger Calendar. I'm December.)From Audacia Ray at Waking Vixen
Along with some former $pread Magazine staff members, I’m the co-founder of Sex Work Awareness, an organization that works toward the destigmatization of sex workers. Our work is partly focused on creating better information and resources about sex workers for the public and for journalists. Our online project Sex Work 101 is the tip of that iceberg. Sex Work 101 has been dormant for a while, but I’ve got some content for it now and will be updating it once a week. Last week I posted an answer to the question Does the average sex worker practice safe sex?Click here to read more
I agree with the first commenter in this post by Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars: can we please just get the fucking Rapture over with already, so that we can rid ourselves of these subliterate cretins who seem to want to Love the rest of us to death? Failing that, can we just buy all of them first-class tickets to one of the places in the Middle East that they hunger so badly to blow up?
This is a good-news/bad-news kind of story: it's good because it shows idiocy and homophobia given the trouncing that it so richly deserves, but it's bad the fact that it took place at all shows that this country persists in treating lunatics seriously when in a just world, they should be laughed at.
In Separate Or Not , a teacher discusses the "completely contrary to feminist thought" concept of same-sex education (or, if you prefer, separation of genders in classrooms).
Her personal experiences lead her to conclude:
As for someone who fought for gender equality I am willing to be politically incorrect in firmly stating my belief that based on the reasons above, students should be separated in classrooms to facilitate their learning. Is it time for the “fad” for separation of students to return? I think so.
Matters of gender identity aside (for that's too complicated a matter for me to contemplate at this wee hour), I am inclined to agree. Somewhat.
As a graduate of an all-women's college, I certainly benefited from the women-only atmosphere. We were free from (perceived or real) the attacks on our way of processeing and thinking.
It's been a while since I've posted here, and for my recent lack of desire to do much blogging, I must apologize. I've been feeling the urge creeping up, however. Whether that's a good or bad thing remains to be seen, I suppose. :)
As long as the subject of zoophilia is currently in the spotlight at UDoJ, let me bring up something that I've been pondering for several weeks. In France there is an AIDS awareness campaign out that plays on our societal aversion to the "Ickyness" (to borrow a phrase) of sexual contact with animals to make the point that sex can be dangerous.
Obviously the ads would never fly here in the United States. The modern fundamentalist religion movement has forcibly dragged the societal acceptance of rational discourse about sex and sexuality far enough into the closet to prevent the ads from ever seeing the light of day on billboards and bus stops. Visual depictions of sexuality on this level are verboten in public due to the appeasement by both our society in general and our government in particular of the medieval false-prudery of a group of people with no connection to reality.
Discussion continues, below the fold.
On the heels of my post at UDreamOfJanie about anti-science Sunday School Teacher Dr. Don McLeroy being appointed head of the Texas Board of Education, allow me to bring to your attention another of Dr. McLeroy's religiously motivated dangers to education in the Lone Star State.
I'll spare you the awful frames at his homepage this time, and point you directly to his statement on abstinence only Sex Ed.