I am teaching a dual-credit course at one of the high schools in town this semester. Part of my concern with teaching the course was dealing with underage children and censoring myself. In a true college class I can talk about whatever I want to and it doesn't matter... I don't have the same freedom in a classroom full of 17 yr olds on a public school campus. Today we were discussing perceptions, stereotyping, and prejudice and one of the students brought up homosexuality. (AUGH! This is one of the subjects I would've rather avoided.) I'm not really sure how we got to the topic other than we were discussing segregation in churches and all of a sudden we were discussing the other. One of the student's piped up with "aren't they all going to hell anyway?" and the conversation took off from there. I was very careful about what came out of my mouth, but it was VERY difficult. Not that I was going to say anything offensive, but sometimes my view of loving everyone irritates people.
Listening to my students discuss all of this made me really think about how much our children absorb from us. Most of their comments started with a "my dad says" or a "my mom says" or even "my church says" as if the kids didn't have an opinion of their own. It's a little scary to see how prejudice can flow so easily from generation to generation without even a blink. I mean, the kids who asked the hell question looked shocked when I answered her in a way that obviously contradicted her parent's view.
When I left the classroom I was struck with an "I'm so old" moment, though... never in all of my years of public school did I even hear the world homosexual come from a teacher's mouth in any way other than negative ... and I could probably count those times on one hand. My how times have changed!