Embracing a Teaching Moment
As I was sifting through the 365Gay news headlines today, the blurb for “Those Who Can, Teach” caught my eye: “The Family Research Council’s attack on Kevin Jennings should inspire us to a teachable moment. “
Kevin was recently appointed as head of the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools at the Department of Education. He’s got excellent credentials for that office since, among other things, he is the founder of GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network). Among other things, GLSEN is responsible for starting the Day of Silence and the organization actively works to make schools a safe place (or at least safer place) for LGBT students.
The Family Research Council lunched a campaign to remove Kevin from this position simply because he is gay. The FRC says this: “Jennings and the organization he founded have been the leaders in promoting a pro-homosexual agenda in America’s schools, beginning in kindergarten. His positions are extreme and narrow-minded, his rhetoric harsh and hate-filled, and his qualifications and ethical standards questionable at best.”
Funny, I feel the same about the FRC—harsh, extreme, hate-filled and with questionable ethics.
I know Kevin. I’ve periodically played hockey with him for a few years. I’ve worked with him through the NYCGHA to help the New York Rangers understand how unfortunate it is that so much hate language is tossed around at their games by fans (read about that here and here). I’m inspired by GLSEN and the work it does to make the difficult school environment better. It’s disgusting that the FRC is attacking him… though sadly it’s not surprising.
Cody Daigle, writing the piece for 365Gay.com, says: “No amount of legislation will reduce the power of that rhetoric in the minds of those who know little to nothing about the reality of our lives. Marriage equality tomorrow will not make this FRC attack on Jennings less successful to their target audience.What will reduce the power of the rhetoric? An embrace of this current historical moment as a teachable moment.”
He wraps up the piece saying this: “So with one eye on activism, we should train the other on individual advocacy – being out, taking the time to correct someone who uses a gay slur in public, start a blog (seriously, go start one. Tell your story. What could it hurt?), demonstrate in every small way the reality of gay men and women – we can be gay and moral, we can be gay and ethical, we can be gay and good role models, we can be gay and be a good teacher. You can’t learn what you aren’t taught. So, teachers we must become.”
I couldn’t agree more. The more people that work their inner advocate the better. I’ll continue to work mine—on this blog, by wearing the NYCGHA logos on my hockey uniforms and the rainbow triangle on my helmet, by not hiding the fact I’m married to Will when anyone asks who I’m married to, and whatever else I can do to highlight the fact that a gay life isn’t really different from a straight life.