Maine fallout and thinking of the children

So, to recap: We lost Maine by an even larger percentage than we lost California. The question of who's to blame has come up all over, of course, and the usual voices are saying we need to give up on marriage and work on other people's pet issues (see this post for my thoughts on that.) Discussion of whether the Democratic leadership is failing to lead on this (yes, it is, says Phoenix the Green, but our problems go a lot deeper than that) and whether the campaign was badly run (it was much better than No on 8, from what I saw) abound. I stopped in to talk to an ally the other day, one of the teachers at my community college who supported me when Prop. 8 hit, and he was angrier than I've seen him before. He pointed to the Yes (on 1 in Maine and 8 here) campaign's tactic of saying "gay marriage will be taught in schools if we don't have a ban on it" and the standard response of simply calling them out as liars as wrong. I think he had good points, so I'm going to paraphrase what he said:

Yes, we do want children to learn about same-sex marriage in the contexts they learn about opposite-sex marriage. We want children to learn that in our society, your life and family are valued regardless of who you are and/or who you love. We want children to learn that queer people and our families are normal because we are. So what? Why should we try to pretend that we're okay with being invisible to "protect the children" from our existence? The children don't need to be protected in this way.

This ties in with something I, as a lifelong homeschooler, have always found confusing: people who want to keep the public schools from teaching about things their personal beliefs say are wrong. It's the job of the public schools, it seems to me, to provide education for everyone, i. e., for the public. Education means factual information and skills likely to be beneficial in later life, so that they can be productive members of society. Public education is supposed to benefit the public, in short, by giving its members the tools they need to do well in it. It's therefore best if it is inclusive, so as to decrease the hostilities between societal subgroups and the destructive behavior that arises from people feeling excluded or threatened by the Other. A society in which different groups coexist is a more functional one.

So what's a parent to do if the schools are teaching their kids things they don't approve of? Parent! Yes, folks, you can raise your own kids, you don't have to let the schools do it. You can emphasize that you believe the schoolteachers are teaching them wrong in x area, and explain why, or take your kids out of the school system altogether and guarantee that they learn what you personally believe. See, parenting is actually your job, not the government's (oh, yeah, that's who provides public education -- I've seen some people who seem to be unaware of that recently, so I thought I should mention.) Passing on your specific values is your job. (And your kids may end up believing things you don't, anyway, because they're individuals. Such is life.)

Arguing against inclusivity in the schools that serve GLBT children, and the children of LGBT parents, is stupid, and it's high time we said so. Which gets to the main point that keeps coming up, in all this: we keep losing because our opponents define the subjects, and we're the "second idiot" responding to their well-formulated attacks. It's high time we stopped letting them have control of the discourse.

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