I shall be rather frank about sexuality in this post, so skip it if you prefer not to deal with the subject. — Captain Midnight
File this under the category of “What were they thinking?” and the sub-category of “Were they thinking?” The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a story about hundreds of students in Port Washington High School being given a ten-question survey regarding their sexuality, told to provide written answers, and to discuss their answers. This happened on April 25th, 2006, the day before an annual event called “The Day of Silence,” co-sponsored by the New York City-based Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network. In connection with this “Day of Silence,” the Students for Unity group visited classrooms in the school, distributed the questionnaire, and led discussions on the student responses.
The school principal, Duane Woelfel, acknowledged that the group’s desire to prevent discrimination and harassment against people with “alternate lifestyles” was a good goal, but distributing surveys of a sexual nature was inappropriate. Ya think? Call me a prude if you like, but sexuality is too intimate a subject to subjugate to group discussion. And I’m talking about any group discussion of sexuality, sexual positions, and hands-on condoming of bananas. I don’t have a problem with biology or health classes teaching the basics of reproduction, even human reproduction, but any discussion which veers into the subjects of sexual techniques, positions, or any other hands-on “homework” leaves the auspices of education, and enters into the realm of advocacy.
As I see it, education can be broken down into categories of information, where all the facts are disclosed; advocacy, where a preference for a specific subset of facts is expressed; and propaganda, where some facts are deliberately hidden or glossed over in order to further an agenda. I’d have to say that the questionnaire falls into the final category, since the tenor of the questions is designed to lead to a very specific, accusatory kind of discussion about sexual preference, not a free and open discussion of all possible points of view.
I normally keep mum on all issues of sexuality, but since the Students for Unity group and some teachers at the high school saw fit to make this a public issue, I shall take up the gauntlet. I fully agree with them and with Principal Woelfel that people shouldn’t harass others for their differences, but I object to the chosen audience for this survey. I also disagree with the unstated assumption that heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are morally equivalent. The basic concept of the survey is to take common questions asked of people who identify as non-heterosexual, and invert them to apply to heterosexuals. While I understand their purpose, I don’t think it works quite as well as they hoped. Here are the questions and my responses.
1 – What do you think caused your heterosexuality?
Scientifically, the rise of sexual dimorphism in living species on this planet is the cause of my heterosexuality. It’s the way sexually dimorphous beings were designed to reproduce.
2 – When did you decide you were heterosexual?
Probably about the time girls somehow lost their cooties and stopped being so oogy.
3 – Could it be that your heterosexuality is just a phase?
It’s possible that my desire to breathe air and drink water is “just a phase,” but I don’t think I’d hold out very well if I tried to “grow out” of these habits. I freely admit, however, that it is quite possible for people to change their sexual preferences over time or in specific situations. As evidence, I offer up Anne Heche, numerous male prison inmates, and Elton John as examples of people who have temporarily or permanently changed their sexual preferences.
4 – To whom have you disclosed your heterosexuality? How did they react?
I’ve never felt the need to “disclose” my heterosexuality. Unlike some persons with whom I have spoken in the past, I feel no pressing need to express my sexual preference within the first three sentences of introducing myself to a stranger.
5 – If you have never slept with someone of the same gender, then how do you know you wouldn’t prefer it?
This is a very silly argument, any way it is used. There are a multitude of experiences I’ve never had, but which I can categorically state I would not enjoy. I don’t need to try a crap sandwich or get a Drano enema to discover whether I would like it.
6 – Is it likely that you have [sic] just haven’t met the right same gender partner yet?
Uh. No. Since I have already chosen and married a woman whom I view as an eternal companion, I’m not in shopping mode. (Besides, she has a cutlass, and she knows how to use it.)
7 – Why do you flaunt your lifestyle with wedding rings, photos at work and talk of your heterosexual escapades?
I rarely wear my wedding ring because gold irritates my skin. I don’t put up family photos at work. And I never talk about my sexual escapades. I mean it when I say it is an intimate subject.
8 – Your heterosexuality doesn’t offend me as long as you don’t try to come on to me, but why do so many heterosexuals try to seduce others to their orientation?
“Many”? Really? Name five. Can you even name two? This is a question that honestly doesn’t make any sense when it is reversed. On the flip side, to prove the point that there are people with same-sex attraction who try to seduce others, I call as my first witness NAMBLA — the North American Man-Boy Love Association. They unabashedly attempt to recruit young boys into homosexual relationships.
9 – Considering the battering, abuse and divorce rate associate with heterosexual coupling, why would you want to enter into that kind of relationship?
This is another question that makes no sense when reversed. Unfortunately, rates of battery, abuse, and divorce (well, permanent separation) run much higher per capita among those who identify as gays and lesbians than among their heterosexual counterparts. If you want to discuss demographics, U.S. Department of Justice statistics indicate that people with same-sex orientation are far more likely to be assaulted and battered by their sexual partners than married heterosexuals are.
10 – Why do heterosexuals place so much emphasis on sex?
While sex is important, fun, and private (how many times can I stress that?), it is not the most important thing in my life. I don’t define who I am based solely on my sexual orientation, and I would venture a guess that most heterosexuals don’t either.
I’ll state again that harassment of people because they are different is wrong. But this questionnaire was not the proper subject matter for a high school.