Deep Civility II

Rob Corr has put up a very measured post summarising the debate which started with the incident of the student teacher having her prac terminated because she answered children’s questions about her same-sex partner over at Kick & Scream. Rob’s post is tellingly titled ‘Discretion is Discrimination’. Rob argues his own opinion very civilly. Nic White also examines the issues thoughtfully, concluding that there is a lot of hysteria in how this student teacher was treated, and how this issue is being debated, over at 52nd State.

I remain unapologetic about my position on this. Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is wrong in a liberal society, and if, as Ken argues, the laws on this issue are a species of the “negative liberty” position – ie that you’re free from discrimination but not necessarily validated or respected – then I think that anyone who’s concerned about freedom and deep civility ought to support proactive education to dispel prejudice on this issue in the public education system.

It seems to me that yellowvinyl’s analogy of desegregation in US schools, where the rhetoric was often about miscegenation leading to social catastrophe is a telling one. The US Supreme Court took the view that proactive action had to take place in order to end discrimination and prejudice. Some of this prejudice was justified on religious grounds (as was apartheid in South Africa), and certainly almost every white person in the South in the 50s argued that their “values” were being attacked by the Federal Government and the courts. If people who oppose education designed to promote respect for those of non-hetero sexual orientations can explain to me the difference, then I’d be mighty grateful. I’m very surprised that people are arguing that prejudice against same-sex oriented people ought to be condoned because it is in harmony with parental “values”.

I’m also disappointed that many commenters failed meaningfully to engage with the evidence that same-sex attracted kids in particular face bullying and discrimination that sometimes contributes to suicide, and in most cases, leaves permanent scars. The research was dismissed out of hand by some commenters as “advocacy research”. Whatever that means – presumably it means that you don’t critique the methodology of a study but reject it a priori because you don’t like the findings. The research in question from Latrobe University can be downloaded here.

ELSEWHERE: Tim Dunlop strongly disagrees with Sophie. For a contrary position, sample the voice of “conservative homosex in Australia”, the inimitable DREADNOUGHT. Fairness also suggests I should link to his unsolicited assessment of my character. Troppo readers can decide for themselves whether he’s characterised my arguments fairly.

NOTE: I don’t want to proliferate the threads unnecessarily, so please comment on Ken’s post below.

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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