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Friday, October 14, 2005

 

Bill O'Reilly is Right About Gay Teens

Now here's one to get a party started.

Comments:
OK, so you're being deliberately provocative... here goes:

I assume you have the same qualms about teenagers declaring themselves to be straight? (Or Christian?)

You are aware, I hope, that most teens who participate in GSAs or Day of Silence are ... STRAIGHT?

A statement like "Whereas in past years, young people might have been willing to take a wait and see attitude about same-sex attractions [before self-labeling]" is simply farcical. It is a poor reflection on your knowledge of the group you are discussing -- in years past we waited because we were terrified. We knew, but we told nobody.

Perhaps this piece simply reflects your own "proclivities" but stop and think for one second: every gay adult was once a teenager. Unlike you, we appreciate what this means in a way that you cannot.

There is only one way you will silence some of today's teens coming out as gay and that is to return to the days of greater shame, fear and self-loathing. While that might make you feel more secure, it is a dreadful thing to ask of those kids. It's called the closet Warren -- and it's a dreadfully lonely place.

Frankly -- it's called self-labeling for a reason.

Where did you get an invite?
 
The data presented by Savin-Williams via the Time article is that the average age of awareness of same sex attractions (not coming out) is much earlier than just 40 years ago.

And I am talking about confused kids primarily (as was O'Reilly) who should not declare as anything if they are looking for answers, identity synthesis, integration, etc. I think the church could do them a disservice if the advice is to pretend you don't have the feelings you do.
 
Oh, awareness. Then why did you write about self-labeling???

Anyway, I think the decreasing age for sexual awareness is reflected across the board for gay or straight. While some very obvious signs have been fallig all century (age of menarche for example), improved information and education around the subject has also enabled younger ages to realise what they are feeling in much clearer ways. Everyone's kids are much more clued in than we ever were.

Given you are not wanting kids to assume matters too early -- such as, thinking they will be straight -- I take it you're in favour of having school programs start with a presumption that some will grow up to be gay adults and that all the curricula should reflect this?

Shall I wire the Montgomery School Board, or will you? :)
 
Feel free to wire them, they are not answering many inquiries however, on any side of the issue.
 
At no time in their lives are people more prone to social pressure than during their confusing teen years. We have no right to pressure them to declare that they are gay unless we offer them equal info on the possibilities of CHOOSING to not be gay, to not be sexually active at a young age, to weigh all sides of the issue, and to treat ALL those who choose that lifestyle with respect and dignity.
 
Well, we must remember that being gay at a young age is not the same as being sexually active.

Maybe we should just assume everyone is bi and at 16 they can declare one way or another.
 
1. Awareness of feelings is easier when there are conceptual labels in society for them. There is, however, a question with regard to which comes first. Before Freud, there wasn't a label for what we would now call the "Oedipal complex." Does that mean that the complex didn't exist, or that those phenomena were subsumed under other concepts? And without that label (or, perhaps in a system which eschews the label for another) would we even pick out the feelings/actions as an object, or something we could name as a complex?

2. "Is the proper response to same-sex feelings experienced by youth to come out as gay or lesbian or is it to wait for more mature times to declare a sexual identity due to pliability of sexual feelings and general adolescent confusion? "

I'm not sure how a human being can respond to feelings without forming some kind of narrative around them. The youth would need to either "come out" (to himself and/or others), consider the feelings to be an abberation in an otherwise heterosexual self-identity, name them as a "besetting sin" and take up the task of determining its roots... or some combination. There is no "pend" button for self-identity, I don't believe, since it is something that we create and that shapes us at the same time.

3. Whether the lower threshold for "realizing" one's same-sex attraction actually *means* anything in the long-term will probably need to wait until this generation of kids has become a generation of adults, with a more stable self-identity. Or, with a new, more flexible kind of identity than we currently have. This doesn't have to do with sexuality, but in generations past, people stayed in the same jobs longer--leading to, I would assume (no, this is not scientific, it's a guess) more of an identity centered around a job. Now, with jobs shifting over a lifetime more frequently, we're less likely to identify around them (at least in certain classes). Is this shift in identity due to the change in economics or vice versa or both/and?
 
The literature on identity indicates a variety of trajectories. Of course, a narrative is created but it does not come preset. It evolves over time with a variety of social influences. I wish gay activists would just admit that they are knowingly influencing that narrative. One of the points of the Time article is to acknowledge that same-sex attracted teens are creating paths down the middle as it were, between gay activists and socially conservative Christians. Under the current conditions, the best situation for teens would be for the schools to boot both wings out the door. And by this I do not mean freedom of expression from students, I mean get GLSEN and commensurate right wing groups out.
 
I commented without reading the article, so I'll have to do that--I think that a middle path sounds like perhaps a good idea.

However, I'm not sure that kicking both groups out is a good idea--what about the students that want to take either side?

Personally, if there were more discussion about being gay in general when I was in high school, I think it could only have helped.

Without GLSEN and the right-wingers, who would get to talk about homosexuality? Would it just be a couple of lines in a sex-ed class, or up to the discretion (and viewpoint) or a school counselor? As much as I disagree with ex/anti- gay groups, I think that we need to keep both available... maybe a group dedicated to that middle path you speak of will emerge...
 
Warren, by "current conditions" I assume you mean this type of thing would need to change first...

Alabama
An emphasis, in a factual manner and from a public health perspective, that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under the laws of the state.

Arizona
[P]romote honor and respect for monogamous heterosexual marriage ... No district shall include in its course of study instruction which: 1. Promotes a homosexual life-style. 2. Portrays homosexuality as a positive alternative life-style. 3. Suggests that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex.

Loisiana
no sex education course offered in the public schools of the state shall utilize any sexually explicit materials depicting male or female homosexual activity

South Carolina
may not include a discussion of alternate sexual lifestyles from heterosexual relationships including, but not limited to, homosexual relationships except in the context of instruction concerning sexually transmitted diseases

Utah
must prohibit instruction in: the intricacies of intercourse, sexual stimulation, or erotic behavior; the advocacy of homosexuality; the advocacy or encouragement of the use of contraceptive methods or devices; or the advocacy of sexual activity outside of marriage.

Those were just a few or the many. That is what some kids are taught in school -- by LAW.

No kids are abused for being straight.

Why make life more difficult for gay kids -- particularly if they need to face that type of official abuse as well as what ever is happening amoung their peers, thier family or their churches?
 
I agree with Bill Riley's stance as well. It is all to easy to get pulled onto the gay bandwagon when one experiences same sex attraction, only to find out years later that one is actually bisexual, and not gay. However, the social mold has been casted in permanent stone, and life is wasted
 
I think you mean this is what kids are not taught.

I have proposed what I think should be taught in my lesson plans. I suppose that puts me at odds with some who think nothing should be taught and with others who think advocacy of political identity and viewpoints should be taught.
 
Oh please. Let's say a teenager "declares" they're gay one day but then figures out a week later they were just confused. Are they like, stuck with the "declaration" now? Are teenagers now being presented with an official form they have to check off and once they do it, their identity is now cast forever?

"Too bad Johnny, you declared for gay last month, so now you can never date girls."

Teenagers "declare" things all the time. If they figure out later it's not really part of who they are, then they'll just drop the label and move on. Next week they'll "declare" they're socialists. Then vegetarians. Then libertarians. Even if they have (gasp!) a date with someone of their own sex, it's not like they'll be infected with gay cooties that will prevent them from ever changing their minds.

Boo
 
Boo - You have just done a wonderful job at supporting my point. Thanks.
 
That's funny, because I could have sworn you said you were agreeing with Bill O'Reilly, and according to your editorial he said:

O’Reilly: But there's a problem here. No. 1, I think almost every teenager gets confused about sexual identity at some time. OK? So, you know, rushing out to declare yourself one thing or another, I think, is foolish. And in my book, which is better for kids than a Simon and Schuster book, I say, don't define yourself that way…Whose business is it if you're 13, 14, 15?...Am I wrong?

I still can't figure out how to make it italicize. :-(

So it sounded like you were agreeing with his claim that teenagers shouldn't declare themselves to be gay, while my point was that if they do, so what? If they are gay, then good on them. If it turns out they aren't, then it's not like they've done themselves any harm with a "declaration."

I do agree that teenagers, gay str8 or bi, should not rush out to start having sex, but there's a long way between declaration of identity and actually having sex.

Boo
 
Boo, don't expect consistency on that...

No, teens shouldn't declare themselves gay because that might cause them to be gay... but yes, teens cannot be trusted when they express something like that (because we all know teens tell everyone they're gay without a moment of thought). Of course, if someone claims exgay... reverse the above.

Warren, seriously -- how many gay teens do you speak to? Just, you know, shooting the breeze?

I don't mean the small minority that are completely freaked out that they are going to hell (such as, future GCC people... or their parents) -- but those who are representative of gay teens?

While we're on the subject... how many gay men or lesbians have you seen as a therapist? How many gay or lesbian couples have you had dinner with? If you don't already realise, those are two very different questions.

Warren, following from your reply, I also didn't ask what teens are or are not taught.

I asked if the anti-gay (and in the case of Alabama, explicitly anti-gay) education systems should be altered. That is the "current environment" you referred to when you called for all to withdraw.

Are those currently a healthy and balanced environment for a gay teen to grow up in?
 
Dr. Throckmorton,

I read the Time article, and while I did see that many benefactors of the Point Foundation said they often dwelled on the negative side of their gay experiences, the article seemed to be clear that they did not embellish the actual application itself. Did you see somewhere where kids admitted to embellishing their application, or is that just conjecture on your part?
 
Several other scholars also said their online bios dwelled on old wounds and omitted evidence of resilience.

But he says he and his wife sent Bryan to Casa not because he was gay but because he was a "totally unruly kid" who was "just so mean ... To go get that scholarship, I understand he had to be the poor little victim. But for three years, my wife and I were the victims."

But one night at the retreat, he also said, "I know they sort of want you to focus on the negative when you're telling your story."

Looks like they scholarship people want you to add stuff that is about victimization and so on.
 
Oh, about 25 or so in the last year or so. I wouldn't be able to say before that. I am getting on in years.

As far as being representative of gay teens, I think that is one of the interesting aspects of the Time article. What is representative when it comes to "gay teens?" Those of the camp of Savin-Williams do not seem to be on the same page as the Kevin Jennings camp.
 
Looks like [the] scholarship people want you to add stuff that is about victimization and so on.

What? -- like the RT dialog and exgay testimonies?

These are scholarships offered to kids who are kicked out of home etc. So, yes, I'd have assumed that the applications will ask if the applicant fits the description; and that the applicants will emphasise the reasons they should be accepted. Grove City does the same with their application, as no doubt do applicants.

I'd also assume that many of the parents would indeed start behaving reasonably once their child is no longer under their control. I'm unsure of how that dynamic works at Grove City...

Oh, about 25 or so in the last year or so. I wouldn't be able to say before that. I am getting on in years.

I'm sorry, maybe I'm too slow this morning but only one part of that makes sense (the first sentence).

Are you saying you met 25 gay teens in the past year, but prior to that you hadn't met any? Or gay men and lesbians in therapy. Or gay couples over dinner?

(I'm also not sure what your age has to do with it -- aren't you and Jennings roughly the same age?)

What is representative when it comes to "gay teens?" Those of the camp of Savin-Williams do not seem to be on the same page as the Kevin Jennings camp.

GLSEN is not made of "gay teens". The "S" stands for straight. The two groups are also not mutually exclusive -- as the article makes clear. You could have a better idea of what is representative of gay teens by joining GLSEN, or PFLAG, instead of just talking about them. (Guess that is not possible: Grove City wouldn't permit you to do that... ).

The overwhelming majority of young gay men and women have always successfully negotiated their adolescence, as do their straight peers, regardless of efforts against them. Support groups are not intended for those who don't need it.

At the same time, I have little doubt that the efforts of GLSEN (and others) is what has enabled larger numbers to successfully pass through adolscence and helped the following to be true:

young Americans--including many young conservatives--are becoming thoroughly, even nonchalantly, gay- positive.

This, of course, refers to both gay and straight teens. Now, apart from the "really gay" ones, more are able to be open and honest, be supported by understanding families and to keep and maintain their peer friendships without a constant reference back to a single dimension of themselves (from all sides).

Do you imagine that situation is at all a bother to us???

Drag out copies of Time's 1969, 1979, and 1998 editions if you need to trace the timeline. GSLEN is but one step along the way, and hopefully it will make itself unnecessary.

Also review the 1967 CBS special "The Homosexuals" for a clearer picture of what it was like before a GLSEN was even possible. It shows what life was like before therapists such as Socarides and Bieber were exposed as ignorant.

I still don't know if you think the current laws about sexuality edication should be changed by removing the anti-gay components.
 
P.S. I did post a critique of your lessons plans, but took it down again -- something went kooky and it scrambled the fonts and dropped words all over the place. That made it very hard to read.

And that reminds me: another thing on the to-do list that I haven't...
 
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