Week 13 – What role should faculty play in promoting ethics?

Part of Ethics is being an “ethically correct” teacher.  For some reason, when I think about ethics the LGBT law comes into mind.

 

The LGBT law

 

America is such a diverse country with so many different groups of people – all having such strong opinions about what is right and wrong in their mind. This is true for every country, but only in the US is where everyone is suing everybody. It has gotten so far that no one dares to say anything anymore. One wrong word as a teacher and one parent might sue you. If I talk about transgender kids or gay people, ‘one million moms’ will make sure you lose your job.

As a teacher I don’t want to influence my children to be pro or con anything, but I want to encourage them to be who they want to be.

I don’t like the LGBT law (explanation and source at the end of the paragraph). Don’t get me wrong. I love the idea of teaching our students about gays, lesbian, transgender people, about people with disabilities and people who are simply different. But I don’t like that we had to make it into a “law” – in my mind it is common sense to teach about differences in humans. It is like making it a law to say “thank you” after someone holds the door open for you. It is just something that is self evident and supposed to come naturally. But not in the US – here we have to have laws. Otherwise some “idiot” will come and sue you if you mention they word gay in class.

I do however like that teachers will be prohibited from criticizing LGBT and different religion – even though that should be self explanatory as well. I would never as a teacher criticize anyone or anything in front of my students. However, where do we draw a line here? I am passionate about animals. If someone tells me that their neighbor has 2 dogs that are chained outside their house 24/7, I will start a 5 hour rant about backland Americans and how they treat their pets. (And I know that this is not partial to the hillbillies and rednecks. What I perceive as animal abuse is different from what lot of Americans, Germans, Russians etc think. Even some New Yorkers.) So if my student comes up to me proudly telling me that he and his dead build a new dog kennel the size of a shoe box, I don’t think I can be impartial. I know I WILL start laying into that poor kid on how cruel that is. So am I any better than those criticizing the transgender people? Isn’t it that I am also trying to force my beliefs on that kid? Just because I am pro LGBT, religious freedom (even here I am partial – and would have to say ‘certain religious freedom’) and against animals being chained up? Does that mean I have a right to set the kid straight? My cause is more morally acceptable than the criticism about condoms in school or a kid being taught what transgender means – but still – where is the line?

 

Even though I am not a fan of making something this obvious into a law, I do think we need more laws like. And pass these laws in rural Kansas as well. So that kids that are LGBT can hopefully live more freely when their classmates are taught. And so that teachers do not have to be afraid of being fired, sued or beaten.

 

“Opponents have already begun five initiatives to repeal the mandate. Their latest efforts aim to allow parents to remove children from class while the new curriculum is being taught” And this enrages me so badly. THIS is exactly why I don’t watch the news. I don’t want to hear about stuff like that. Why in the world would someone go through all the trouble to start an appeal? Even if I were to be against my child being taught about the history of gays, I wouldn’t go through all the trouble of doing anything against it. I am just lazy I guess. Why not just raise your kids with your (wrong) believes and teach them not to listen to the teacher when he talks ‘rubbish’ like that. Why not expose your kids to the different opinions and than teach them that all transgender people should rot in hell. I mean that is horrible – but what do they want to accomplish with taking the kids out of school? That they will never hear the word transgender, never be exposed to the thought of it? What if your kid grows up and hears the word ‘gay’ at age 16 for the first time? And then god forbid forms its own opinion as a rebellious teenager? Isn’t that against everything you believe in? Maybe I should write them a letter telling him to expose the kids early to the evils of the LGBT.

For some reason I only ever hear about those crazy people in the US – there seems to be a large concentration of crazy here. I was never aware of Germans fighting for their misguided religious beliefs like the Americans do. It seems that Americans are much more influenceable. It just needs one crazy person – starting a sect or being a pastor and lots and lots of people follow him/her. It is scary. I am not scared of terrorism per se (even though those are clearly crazy people too). I am scared of raising my kids in a country where the pure mention of LGBT gets people so riled up that they take my kids classmates out of school. It always amazes me that they don’t see reason. But they probably think that it is unreal that I don’t see it their way. It is a matter of opinion and I am just not capable of fully grasping that. I am working on developing a “live and let live” life style, but it is hard. It is hard to not try to shake sense into them. And it will be hard as a teacher to not go crazy on a student telling me that his mom took him to an anti gay demonstration last weekend.

 

LGBT CURRICULUM: Thanks to California’s FAIR Education Law, public school students will be the first in the country to receive mandatory instruction on the historical contributions of gays, lesbians, and people with disabilities.

Teachers will be prohibited from introducing material criticizing LGBT Americans or those who practice particular religions. Opponents have already begun five initiatives to repeal the mandate. Their latest efforts aim to allow parents to remove children from class while the new curriculum is being taught.” (http://www.takepart.com/article/2012/01/04/most-controversial-education-laws-2012)

 

LGBT is for students in elementary to High School. College is more open to diversity; it’s freer of parental influences. (at least I hope it is). So can I as a teacher talk about my own believes and interest? What if I am a research professor and my research is mostly funded by Monsanto – can I teach my plant breeding class without a bias? I would have to mention the advantages and disadvantages of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) – but will I if I don’t want to risk loosing my funding?

What if my students vehemently argue against GMOs? What if they want to use our lab time to study the negative effects of GMOs?  And unrelated to teaching – what if my Monsanto funded research actually shows that GMO gene products cause allergic reactions in humans? What shall I do?

 

If I were to teach at VT I would start the semester with telling every one in my class that “0.5% of you who you are sitting in front of me will abandond a cat or a dog this year.” Because I am sick and tired of finding abandoned and thus starved animals during the summer – animals that still hang around the apartment complexes that their previous owner lived in before graduation.

 

About christink

PhD Candidate at VT
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