Weeks ago, the Langley School District issued a letter to students and parents detailing its intention to educate students about the rights of LGBT students. Specifically, the letter acknowledged that a considerable number of students and community members recognize that their sexual orientation and/or gender identity falls outside of traditional colonial standards.
SOGI 123, the educational model being used by the Langley School District, aims to make the experience of students safer and more accommodating at school in various ways, one of which is already being used pervasively in classrooms across the country: saying “guardian” instead of “mom and dad.”
Why is this done? Because it’s understood that nuclear families aren’t the only family. A student might be under the care of only their mother or father. They might be in foster care, or being looked after by a guardian or extended family member.
This principle applies to other more incensory areas, like pronouns. For example, saying “their” instead of “his” or “her.” This doesn’t mean that under SOGI guidelines, teachers or administrators are barred from using “his” or “her” to refer to students who identify as such, it simply means that they now have the means to educate students on more inclusive ways to refer to others in situations when it is applicable.
Backlash against the proposed educational changes have come, for the most part, out of two places. One is a place of tradition. Several community members cited not being comfortable with their children learning something that they did not learn.
Most failed to realize that, as time goes forward, every child surpasses their parent in learning, either academic or social. The second starting point of rejection from community members comes from a fear of, or reaction to, what they see as an effort to subvert either Christian or conservative values.
At this juncture, anyone opposing religiously nonpartisan legislation aimed at making the lives of one of our most vulnerable populations marginally better on the basis of religious beliefs ought to refer to the fight against teaching evolution as scientific fact in schools, and the fight against teaching students about various contraceptive methods. These were opposed by socially and religiously conservative populations and, what’s baffling, is that the argument is still the same.
We don’t want our children to learn about this or that for moral reasons.
Granted, SOGI proposes an education that merely introduces students to a viewpoint other than that held by its religiously conservative opponents. It doesn’t belittle or attack the conservative view, but simply says, “Hey, here’s another, frankly nicer way of interacting with people.”
Look, even if I was opposed to the changing nature of social relationships, I wouldn’t be opposed to teaching kids a level of compassion that includes realizing that there are others out there who don’t fall within the cut and dried conception of the world we might have, and that despite that, they still deserve our respect.