The comment was made:
"Being a sometime participant in the debate over same sex marriages I consider myself to be somewhat conversant in the various controversies that swirl around the subject. In the prop 8 fight, if I recall correctly, the pro same-sex marriage side was livid over certain television commericials implied (or better said, out right stated) that if same sex marriage were normalized then same sex marriage would be taught in schools as being on par with heterosexual marriage,etc. The hue and cry was that this was not true (though and Juliann pointed out several times, they really never told us it why it wasn't true). Now comes this story:
Obama's Safe Schools Czar Tied to Lewd Readings for 7th Graders
First of all, is there anyone who doesn't agree that such content is really not appropriate for 7th graders? Heavens, I'm pretty sure it's not even appropriate for seniors in high school. Neverthess, how can the claim that same sex relationships will not be taught/advocated/defended in school be squared with the evidence that, in fact, gay rights groups are, and have been, attempting to do just that?
Second, why is there no outrage about the many of these "stories" that involve pedophelia and sexual abuse of minors? I know that whenever the two have been conflated on this list (pedophilis/homosexuality) there is outrage. Why, then, would the gay community seek to show such relationships in a positive light?
Finally, at what point does this move from a fring issue to a mainstream issue? Isn't GLSEN a "mainstream" gay organization?"
To which I responded:
Disclaimer: I am not, never have been, nor ever will be, homosexual. The issues addressed are very sticky and difficult, and I expressly reserve my right to change my opinion as I become more educated on the topic.
Being only somewhat, but not fully, informed on this topic, I think there are a few points to make:
1. Age alone is not an indication of maturity. Some kids are way more equipped at early ages to responsibly digest and deal with mature subject matter. Others are much less mature and more likely to either get the wrong message or experiment in unsafe ways.
2. Sex education, including education about homosexuality, should be phased in according to the maturity of the child, which, although is often correlated with age, cannot conveniently follow some rigid chart about what to teach when.
3. There exists in our country and around the world a large sector of the population which is both homophobic and erotophobic. The phobia aspect of our reactions to this story need to be filtered out in an attempt to allow us, if possible, to look at this issue objectively.
4. In my opinion, with some exceptions, it is not appropriate for seventh graders to be encouraged (or forced) to read highly explicit stories about sexual encounters (heterosexual or homosexual), because seventh graders generally lack the maturity to deal with it. Any stories directed to children about non-consensual sexual encounters must take great care to explain and emphasize the critical difference between fantasy and reality; while a private, carefully managed sexual fantasy about a non-consensual encounter can sometimes be harmless fun (for example, research shows that many responsible adult women privately have rape fantasies although in real life they would never seek or desire such an encounter), reality is an entirely separate matter which must be taken extremely seriously, and real-life non-consensual sexual encounters are NEVER OK. Because children do not usually have a fully-developed sense of the distinction between fantasy and reality, explicit depictions of sexual acts should not be directed at children in a way which fails to signal disapproval of non-consensual acts. In fact, for young children, it is better to refrain altogether from any explicit depictions of sexual acts, consensual or not, because, again, they lack the maturity. While I have no objection to adult consumption of non-abusive, consensual, adult-oriented, non-gross, non-overly-explicit, erotic materials, the maturity gap between adults and children prevents application of the same rules to children.
5. Ultimately, no matter how hard we might try to prevent it, children will have access to media and experiences in the sexual realm which exceed their level of maturity. That is no excuse for failing to make any effort to censor their activities, but we should not automatically assume that children who are exposed to certain ideas will necessarily act out the behavior.
6. Parents should be permitted to teach their children about whether homosexual activity is morally permissible, and public schools should not force children to adopt a moral code condoning homosexual behavior. That being said, science, rather than religion, should govern in terms of what children in public schools learn about the nature of homosexuality and its prevalence in society. Tolerance for those of opposing viewpoints, including gay people, is an important part of our public education. While it is the parents' right to teach their children that homosexual activity is not morally acceptable, no school should encourage or condone hatred, invidious discrimination, or dehumanization towards gay people. Teaching about gay "marriage" is not the same as teaching empirical facts about homosexuality. As I have stated many times before, the term "marriage" has a religious connotation to it and the principle of separation of church and state should bar a public school from indoctrinating children concerning the acceptability of "gay marriage."
7. Stories of gay teens engaging in consensual gay relationships with older people should be dealt with carefully. Morally, I think such a relationship is not per se wrong, depending upon the younger partner's maturity level, the precise nature of the relationship and precautions taken, the level of commitment, etc., but most of the time, a teenager lacks the maturity to truly consent. That is why we have laws defining statutory rape. In terms of the perpetuation of such stories, it can be OK so long as the reader is mature enough to distinguish fantasy from reality, the goal of the story is to supply a fantasy or to help people gain tolerance for themselves and others, and the story is not encouraging the acting out of risky behavior.
8. As to this particular Obama appointee, I don't think that what I've read so far should disqualify him from his appointment. However, if it were up to me, I would question him very carefully to confirm that his views did not violate any of the principles I have outlined above.