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 teenage homosexuality 
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I really wish we could have discussed this more in depth in class. Throughout last night's class, I spoke to several different people who explained to me that they were raised in environments (school environments in particular, but family/home environments as well) where it is simply not acceptable to be gay. It's just not tolerated. And, as much as I hate to say it, and no offense to anyone, but most people mentioned living in small southern towns. So why is this attitude so vastly different from, say, where I grew up? Why is this homophobia so deeply rooted here in the South? Granted, I'm sure there are small homophobic towns everywhere across the states, but from what I'm hearing there is a vast difference here in the South. Or, is it just small towns in general?
I'm really interested in this. I've done the gender roles/gender stereotypes thing over and over again throughout my college career, however I've never really thought to ask my gay friends what it was like for them in high school. I mean, really, what is it like to be gay in America's high schools?
High school is a hard enough place to grow into oneself. I know I struggled with my identity, as a girl, as a daughter, as a friend, etc. I also struggled with my sexuality - because adolescence is such a confusing time. Maybe it was just me, but it seems like everyone goes through a period of just feeling awkward or uncomfortable in their own skin. Luckily for me, I had supportive friends who allowed me to question my sexuality and at last figure out that no, I don't like girls like that, I do in fact like guys and am attracted to guys. I know this is personal but it's true. And I'm not embarassed to admit it.
I guess I just want to hear more of what you guys think about this. My intent is not to bash any of you who have grown up in towns like the one mentioned above, instead I'd really just like to hear of your experiences with that. Do you struggle with accepting homosexuals as a direct effect of how you were raised? And if so, do you think that will affect your attitude towads gay students in your classroom? (like it or not, as we read in our assigned reading, you're going to come across a gay student at some point). And if you are gay, or have gay friends, and know of their experiences in high school, could you share with us what high school was like for you/them?

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Fri Mar 25, 2005 8:20 am
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It is not only in small towns. I am from Charlotte which is not as big as some cities but it is by far not a small town. My best friend throughout high school was called a fag and homo. Thing is, he insisted that he was not gay. A week after graduation, he came out. He felt that he had to hide who he was because society would not accept him as being gay. High school is such a tough time for kids, throw in homosexuality, and it makes it that much more difficult to handle the pressures.
I had so many friends who came out in high school and did not make it through. I lost so many friends to the pressures of being gay and in high school. They just would rather have been dead then be discriminated against. My friends that did not let the pressure get them down are strong advocates of the gay community in Charlotte.


Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:19 pm
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People look at stupid things. I know, I do more often than I'd like to. I wish that so many people didn't pay attention to how others dress, what so-and-so said, Bob's big nose, and many other trivialities. Middle school and High school especially are times where teenage harmones are rank with criticism for their peers--and often themselves.

In a perfect world, if we valued everyone according to who they are, and not what they do, homosexual people would be loved for themselves as *people*. Sexual orientation is secondary when you look at a person and see the heart. That's what we're really after as educators--not the mind. Through their hearts, we can inspire people to value the knowledge we are offering them.

To more directly answer your question, Cindy, my uncle is gay. He's incredible. For the most part, I grew up in the South. I still love him.


Tue Mar 29, 2005 11:01 am
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I am thankful that I was raised in an environment (because of the nature of my parents' business) where being around Koreans, Jamaicans, Mexicans, people who were/are gay, handicapped, and elderly was normal. My mom and dad even adopted a mentally handicapped guy. But, my experience is the exception and not the norm, I think.
I really think it's hard for people to be gay, probably more than many other ways to be "different". I agree with the article that says how hetero-centric our society is. Not only that, we still read about all the attacks and assaults on people who are gay.
In my personal experience, I have found that out West (such as in Colorado, where I'm from) it's a bit easier to be gay than in the South. This could totally be my perception, and I'm aligning with Cindy here in that I'm not bashing anyone or anything, it's just that it's my perception and I could be wrong.
As a teacher, I feel we need to make our teaching/learning environment as comfortable for all students as possible. If they don't feel safe, then I do not think adequate learning can take place. No matter what our opinions on the matter may be, we simply must put forth our best effort to set aside our opinions and let children express themselves. Besides, I would never forgive myself if I ended up being the person a student opened up to and turned them away because of my perceptions/opinions about him or her, especially if that student was asking for help or guidance.


Tue Mar 29, 2005 5:30 pm
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The south does view homosexuality probably differently than other parts of the country. Our region is considered "the Bible belt" in that churches are on every street corner. The Bible teaches against homosexuality and the churches back that. It really is just the society we live in. But I also believe that parts of sourthen society have become increasingly open to accepting alternative life-styles. I personally believe that homosexuality is wrong. However, I am not going to judge someone who is gay. My aunt "came out" several years ago and it was very strange for my entire family at first. My grandfather was outraged at first, my mom was scared what people would think, and my aunt herself didn't know whether she could even live in our town. But she has stayed and lives with another woman about 1/2 mile from my house. The family has learned to except her and love her. I love my aunt and I like the woman she lives with just fine.
In the classroom, I would want my students to feel safe with the individual decisions they make. I remember how bad students in my high school had it that were gay or even thought to be gay by classmates. It was hell for them. Its a touchy situation and I dont know how I could deal with it. I would just try to do what is right. But in small town NC, what you might consider right, others in the community might have problems with!!!


Sun Apr 03, 2005 11:44 pm
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I have had the privlage to have many gay friends and am lucky to have them in my life. I have (like I'm sure most people) experienced both hatred and exceptence. As teachers it is so important to teach our students about understanding and equality. I sometimes find myself very frustraded with other people and what seems to be as very close minded views. I have to remind myself that it all comes down to experience and perspective. My personal experiences are much different than everyone elses and therefore my views will always be my own. I think that lesson is very important in how and what you teach and how you live life.


Mon Apr 04, 2005 4:58 pm
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I think a lot of the phobia comes from how a person is raised. When I was growing up, even talking with someone of a different race was considered a sin. I can't even imagine what my parents would think about same-sex relationships. Luckily for me, I don't share their viewpoint. I have attended church regularly since a child and from there I learned that we are all created equal. No one is better than any one else. The choices I make are between me and God. I have no right to judge anyone about anything. Hopefully, I am teaching my children this same lesson. I also want to be a teacher who looks at the student for who they are and not anything that goes on in their life.

I don't think this prejudice is limited to small towns. My daughter attended the Catalyst Conference at UNC-CH which discussed social diversity. They had representatives from every group on campus they met with the high school students and discussed all issues. Her folder contain pamplets about being gay. However, a few weeks later on the news there was a report that a gay student was attack because he was gay. So even though a school may say they support everyone, it may not be true.


Tue Apr 05, 2005 3:44 pm
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I have a concern that Cindy expressed very well in the first post that started this discussion. That is that adolescents are exploring all sorts of aspects of their identity, sexuality being one. Being gay or lesbian may be a lifestyle that students "try on" to see if that is who they are. My worry is that by allowing or encouraging teens to stake a claim as to their sexual identity, they may end up engaging in risky behavior or reinforcing a role that is not really who they are. I hope this makes sense. I just don't want students to feel like they need to "come out" as homosexual when it may not be something that is really who they are, just something that is related to how they are experiencing their family and friend relationships at the time. I'm not trying to say that no one is really gay and if they just gave it a good chance they'd be able to live happily as a homosexual. I do know people who have had gay experiences and who chose to undergo counseling and with spiritual (Christian) help have left the gay lifestyle behind.

So my fear is that by making it popular or easy for students to identify with a gay lifestyle in high school, we may be keeping them from taking the time they need to find out who they really are. I think so many adolescents are so into rebellion, some will jump at this as a way to get back at parents, confront society, etc.


Tue Apr 05, 2005 9:06 pm
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Where I attended high school, being homosexual was not only ridiculed but it was basically not allowed by most members of that area. One boy that "came out" in high school was forced to quit due to all the problems he encountered by being open about his sexuality. My ex boyfriend has come out (we dated waaay back freshman year of high school). I always asked him if he was because we were mostly best friends and I could tell that he was different than most guys. He never came out until he graduated and moved away from our area. Even though he never came out in high school he was constantly picked on and called "queer boy". It makes me sad to think how difficult it truly is for people to live their lives acting and loving someone the way they feel is right. Who are we to tell people that who they prefer is wrong? The world is so sad and confusing sometimes and I think that it is especially so in high school. Teenagers can be SO horrible to one another.


Tue Apr 05, 2005 11:24 pm
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I really don't know where I fit in with this disscussion I find that as long as no one is hurting anyone, and that it will not kill someone then I don't have a problem with it. It is not my life to get involved in, and I do not think judging people is the way to do anything productively in life. But thats just what I think.


Wed Apr 06, 2005 2:57 pm
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My parents strongly taught me to accept others for who they are as a person, not by other factors. For our generation, think of how silly it would be to publicly exclude others on the basis of skin color, like we did in the past. The good thing about history is you can look back and realize how ridiculous some things really were and learn from them. In a way, homosexuality has become the new minority. In a few years I have a feeling it will be gradually accepted to the point it would seem silly to exclude them as well. And it makes me wonder who will be the next minority group to take its place?


Wed Apr 06, 2005 10:25 pm
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I think that being gay and in high school in just about any high school in america would be pretty tough. But I will admitt that being in the south would make it tougher. I agree with Danny Lyons in that we are in the Bible Belt. People in the south tend to be a tough crowd when trying to introduce a new idea or way of living. I do think that it also tends to be more of a southern small town issue more that other areas because of the closeness of the communities. Where I am from most people know who you are and they know your parents and whole families. At my church 3/4 of the church is related to one another in some way or another. At my high school most of the last names of the kids enrolled were Hamrick or Ledbetter. When you have a community that close most everyone tends to have the same ideals and upbringing. Everyone thinks the same. Its not like larger cities and communities in other states. Southern people tend to be very proud of their background. Yes I can see were a city like Charlotte you can have a lot of discrimination against homosexuals, but as a person who lived an hour away from Charlotte and lived in Charlotte for a year, its a city that is alot more liberal than were I am from. Larger cities tend to be more liberal than smaller towns because more people live there that are form different backgrounds and areas. People that live in big cities tend to move around more and are introduced to new lifestyles. I think this is something that you could find in any small town in th US, not just the south.


Wed Apr 06, 2005 11:34 pm
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I think it would be interesting to see how ubiquitous homosexuality would be in our society if it was deemed socially acceptable.

It makes me sad to think that people must live their entire lives uncomfortable in their own skins.


Ain't no need to hate - -liberate.


Thu Apr 07, 2005 2:34 pm
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I’m not sure what to say about this post. I came from a very small town and I don’t know any one who is gay (that I know of) and really don’t know how to approach the concept. I mean I have meet gay people but I really don’t know them, so this worries me that I might not know how to deal with a homosexual. I really don’t have a problem with it that I know of but as I stated before I never really have had to deal with it. I hope that this doesn’t affect my teaching ability but only time will tell.


Tue Apr 12, 2005 3:52 pm
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I also come from a small town where it seems like everyone knows everyone else or at least has some kind of connection. I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church and that is part of the Bible Belt. I knew just a few gay people before I came to college. I know a lot more now. I personally do not agree with their lifestyle, however, that does not mean that I don't love them as people and accept their decision. My parents like someone else said always taught me to be open-minded and to accept differences. Who am I to judge, when I have many things in my life that aren't great?! I think the problem comes in judging people. Like I said, I don't agree with homosexuality, but I still care about those I know that are homoseuxal, and I try my best to understand what they are going through. It is hard though because I don't know what it is like and they must have so much they still keep inside for fear of being ridiculed. So I guess people's views toward this issue does depend a lot on where they grew up and how they were raised.


Tue Apr 19, 2005 9:10 am
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I grew up in a town where this is not traditionally accepted, however when I came to ASU run into this situation almost everyday. I have several friends that are gay and I have no problem with that and I don't try to force my personal opinons onto them. I feel that just because I don't agree with something doesn't mean that I have to judge those who feel differently. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. My diversity class just did an activity called "Archie Bunkers Neighborhood" and I got placed into the gay part of town. Even though this was only an activity it was very clear that we were being treated differently than the other students in the neighborhood. This was a really great activity that expanded our knowledge of racial issues. Has anyone else done this activity?

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Thu Apr 21, 2005 12:24 pm
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First of all I commend you in this topic! Yes I too grew up in a small southern town and yes that did influence my views on homosexuality. Coming from the Bible belt so much of what you are taught is centered around Christianity. I think it is so sad that there is a huge number of suicides amoung teenage homosexuals. I think that God and the Bible is used now to teach hate but if you look in the New Testament it is all about love. While I still do not agree with homosexuality I also do not believe in hate for anyone. Let others pick their own lifestyles. I feel that a person should not be defined by their sexuality just like they should not be defined by race. We are as future teachers should encourage an open and tolerant classroom for our students to flourish in.


Sun Apr 24, 2005 5:40 pm
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