Homophobia does not start in middle and high school. It starts in the home, and many of these kids start hearing homophobic slurs very young. I have an elementary age child, and I have heard homophobic slurs from kids in this age group. Awareness of same-sex relationships should definitely be taught in public schools, and maybe some of this hate talk could be stopped before these kids are in the upper grades.
People need to consider several things with this topic. Number one, there’s a good chance some of those elementary age kids have gay or lesbian parents. How do those kids feel when their families are not represented in activities, stories, or examples used in class? Kids who have two moms or two dads will always know their families are different. They will bring friends home, and those friends might mention that Johnny has two dads to their parents. Johnny may end up being teased mercilessly at school because his family is different. I have read reports of children as young as first grade being bullied because the child has gay or lesbian parents. Worst of all, no one intervenes to stop the bullying. Is that really fair to the child whose only crime is that her family is different?
Secondly, some of those kids will have a GLBT brother, sister, uncle, aunt, cousin or other relative. Or maybe their parents have a close friend who happens to be gay. Or maybe they see a debate about gay marriage on TV. Or they happen to see a gay couple portrayed in a TV program. They will have questions, and they deserve to have their questions answered.
Telling a child that she is too young to understand or that homosexuality is a sin does not allow that child the opportunity to develop his own opinion. Reading a story depicting a family with gay parents in a loving, stable relationship gives the child something to consider, especially if his family takes the view that homosexuality is a sin. He at least gets to opportunity to question his parents’ viewpoint, and later on, he might have a totally different idea about same sex relationships.
Contrary to what many people believe, homosexuality is not a choice, preference or lifestyle. The gay cannot be prayed away. There have always been gay people, and there likely always will. We are born this way, no matter how hard we try to change or how much we hate ourselves. Same sex relationships are only going to become more prominent in the future, why not start including these families in the school curriculum? As a lesbian parent, I would be overjoyed to learn that my elementary age child had been exposed to a positive portrayal of a gay or lesbian family.
One more point to consider, some of those kids in elementary school are likely going to be gay. Suicide rates among gay teens are the highest of any teen group. A lot of that has to do with bullying and homophobic comments allowed to go on in school. Those comments don’t start in high school. They start much younger. A little tolerance teaching in the primary grades might make for more acceptance later on.