kitchen table math, the sequel: things my child learned about gay women in school this week

Saturday, October 13, 2007

things my child learned about gay women in school this week

It took me awhile to process the "Woman to Woman" brochure.

At first, reading through all the the hand-anal touching folderol, my primary reaction was: ewwwww. (A pal of ours, coming to the hand-anal passage in the middle of a conversation about the instructional leaders of our schools, said, "That's what they do inside their offices all day.")

So that was my first thought. Ewwww.

My second thought was: huh?

Gay women need to use dental dams, Saran Wrap, or "a square cut out of a latex glove or condom" in order to have safer sex?

Safer than the highly dangerous "unprotected" sex they were having?

Now that seemed wrong.

I distinctly recall, at least I think I distinctly recall, joshing with gay friends - that would be gay female friends - about lesbian sex being safer than heterosexual sex. Also, I distinctly do not recall hearing tell of epidemic levels of HIV in gay women.

Naturally, this led me to think I needed to Google up a fact or two about the health concerns of gay women. At first, I resisted the impulse. I resisted because I am tired of spending my time Googling facts to counter the many non-facts purveyed by the instructional leaders of my high-performing school district.

Inevitably, however, my inquiring nature got the better of me, and within minutes I had discovered the CDC Fact Sheet on HIV/AIDS among Women Who Have sex with Women. It was just as I suspected.

This post to the Irvington Parents Forum resulted:

The “Woman to Woman” flier raises another issue, which is that the district has provided students with “information” that is misleading at best, damaging and false at worst. To my way of thinking, the Woman to Woman brochure is hurtful to gay women.
Here is the CDC on the subject of female-to-female sexual transmission of HIV:

To date, there are no confirmed cases of female-to-female sexual transmission of HIV in the United States database (K. McDavid, CDC, oral communication, March 2005).

I will copy this to G.F., who I’m sure had no idea IMS and IHS were planning to teach students that gay women should use dental dams and Saran Wrap to protect themselves from HIV.

Personally, I would strongly prefer that the middle school say no more on these subjects. Here at home, my husband and I will explain to our son that this material amounts to scaremongering at the expense of gay women and nothing more.

One last thing.

I talked to my sister, who was taught sex education in the 1970s in her Masters Program.

She said that a brochure like the Woman to Woman flier will cause children of a certain age -- children whose mothers are gay, or children whose friends' mothers are gay -- to think, "Mommy's going to die" or "My friend's mommy is going to die."

She's seen this reaction many times in children learning about cigarette smoking at school. Kids whose parents smoke are scared to death; if their parents don't smoke, but their friends' parents do, they're frightened for their friends.

So this is U.S. public education, K-12.

Can't teach math, can't teach the disadvantaged kids.

But scaring children and filling their heads with images of dripping, discharging penises and gay women frolicking in Saran Wrap..... that's a go.

Thanks, guys.

black and Hispanic students in a Natl School of Excellence
news from nowhere, redux
meanwhile, somewhere in a parallel universe
things my child learned about gay women in school this week
also playing in a parallel universe
email to the principal, part 2
ktm-2 readers make up a word problem for IMS
profiles in courage
new talent at the forum
my tax dollars at work
character education emergency
invitation to the dance



PaulaV said...

Goodness me! What is Christopher's view on all this?

Karen A said...

"Goodness me!" sums it all up rather nicely, I think.

Catherine Johnson said...

He thinks it's funny, but "funny" is a defense....

He's a sensitive kid; he now has the image of dripping, discharging penises (sorry) lodged inside his mind, waiting to be activated by his first kiss.

Plus there is the further damage done to the school, to his ability to function inside the school, etc.

I feel he's too young to have to see school as a "game," to have to develop the kind of realism these kids have had to develop in order to survive - and I don't use the term lightly - Irvington Middle School.

I do think "everything bad is good," as my neighbor's husband sometimes says.

The constant disrespect the middle school principal displays towards children and their families, the constant apathy towards their learning, their hopes, their dreams ---- I didn't wish this for my "young adolescent" child, and I wouldn't have moved here if I'd known this was what we'd get.

But, as the saying goes, That which does not kills us makes us stronger.

Unfortunately, that saying comes to us from Nietzsche, but I guess the fact that one turns to Nietzsche to deal with Irvington Middle School tells you something, too.

Catherine Johnson said...

It was profoundly wrong for the school to put these images inside my child's mind.

Catherine Johnson said...

And it can't be undone.

PaulaV said...

I think this is "gross" negligence on the principal's part. I mean, come on, what was he thinking?

You are absolutely correct in saying the school was wrong to put these images in your child's mind. As a parent, you should be aware of what your child will be subjected to in school in advance.

This would not fly where I live. Parents would riot!

By the way, good emails to both the principal and the health guy.

What are other parents saying about this incident? Do I see a letter to the editor in the near future?

Catherine Johnson said...

It was the STD brochure that got to me. "If you are a man...STD?"

That was the one.

If I were a gay mom, the lesbian-sex brochure would have had me marching in the streets.

But as I am not, it was enough removed from our day to day reality not to be damaging to a 13 year old boy (I hope).

But "IF You're a Man" --- that one hit him where he lives.

Anonymous said...

"That which does not kills us makes us stronger."

Yep. Like polio.

-Mark R.

Catherine Johnson said...

Does polio make you stronger?

(Am I being literal-minded?)