|From the Legacy Wall displayed this week at Lyons Township High School in LaGrange. It highlights contributions to U.S. and world history by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.|
Saturday, the Chicago Sun Times published an editorial titled Give school kids the facts about prominent LGBT people in history. As you may know, the Illinois legislature is considering SB3249. The measure would require every public elementary school and high school to include in its curriculum a unit of instruction studying the significant role of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals in society.
The editors write, in part:
The bill has opposition from conservatives, including the Illinois Family Institute. “Where’s the protection for students and parents who have a religious belief?” Ralph Rivera, a lobbyist for the group, told the Chicago Tribune. “Which has always been the case, this is not a new, avant-garde thing that they find this behavior to be against their religious beliefs and their churches’ or synagogues’ beliefs. No one seems to be mindful of that. They don’t care.”
Sorry, Mr. Rivera, but history is history, and it cannot be shortchanged in the service of religion.
Acknowledging that a person of historical significance was gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual makes no value judgment except to say the person existed and made contributions. These are historical facts. Teachers have an obligation to tell history accurately. That’s what schools are supposed to do.
As much as I like the editorial it is not perfect. I have sent the editorial page editor a note to the effect that their rebuttal of Illinois Family Institute’s rhetoric is incomplete without mentioning that, according to Southern Poverty Law Center, they are a hate group. In fact they are a fringe group that is rabidly and irrationally anti-LGBT. Without telling readers the full story the Sun Times is conveying respectability upon the organization and they are certainly not respectable.
I sent a similar note to the author of the story in the Chicago Tribune which is cited in the editorial. I urge you to follow this practice. Every time Tony Perkins gets ink, people we need to inform the media that he is a hate group leader. Would they quote David Duke? If you really think about it, there is not much difference and religion is no excuse. The same goes for Mat Staver or Michael P. Farris (ADF) or any of the other loose nuts and bolts that seek to marginalize us.
When these groups get uncritical mentions in the media it adds to their credibility. They use that, in turn, to raise money and they use that money to make our lives (and especially those of our community’s children) more difficult. That ink — those interviews — have to have a price associated with them.
SPLC does a remarkable job and their staff are terribly overworked. They do what they do out of commitment. SPLC’s president, Richard Cohen, could be taking down seven figures as a Big Law partner. The least we can do is to urge media outlets to respect the honest efforts of SPLC.