By Kathleen Gilbert
ELKHORN, Wisconsin, January 16, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In an effort to combat "homophobia," a Wisconsin public school teacher implemented a 38-day regimen explicitly designed to change the minds of students who did not view homosexuality as equal to heterosexuality, reports the Illinois Family Institute (see: http://www.illinoisfamily.org/news/contentview.asp?c=34214).
11-th grade English teacher Sarah Arnold says she was inspired to create the curriculum, entitled "Exposing Hidden Homophobia," when she heard an "anti-gay undertone" in students’ conversations, which included making fun of "anything that defied gender stereotype," according to an article printed in the pro-homosexual publication by the Southern Poverty Law Center "Teaching Tolerance."
"Some people would say we don’t have a wide demographic variety here," Arnold said of the mostly white Elkhorn Area High School. "It’s more accurate to say that we have demographics that aren’t acknowledged."
The program Arnold developed included "in-depth exploration of depictions" of homosexuality in mass media; several homosexual-themed films, documentaries, books and novels; internet research on "the nature of homophobia"; and a "homophobia questionnaire" coupled with a "heterosexual questionnaire" designed to take questions "commonly asked of homosexuals and ask them of heterosexuals" - e.g., "When did you decide to become heterosexual?’"
Although students were reluctant and parents "balked," particularly Christian parents, Arnold would argue that the project supported "higher-order thinking skills" because students were asked to perform such tasks as assembling and presenting portfolios of their research into homosexual culture and media.
The article claims that, thanks to the program, students began to adopt a more favorable view of homosexuality, as evidenced by portfolio essays and an increased membership in the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance.
Colleen Rafter, principal of Raritan High School in Hazlet, N.J., said she convinced the English department in her school to adopt a homosexuality program similar to Arnold’s, according to the article.
"We really want to make a change in how people think and act," Rafter said. "I will try to be more brave on these issues myself."
The article then provides resources and lesson plans for other public school teachers to use, including shortened versions of Arnold’s "Hidden Homophobia Unit."
Laurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute (IFI) said she was "speechless" when she learned of the curriculum.
"Wisconsin public schools are permitting radical ideologues to use public money to promote their subversive, unproven moral conclusions and political goals about homosexuality," said Higgins in an IFI article. "These propagandists, who should be teaching history or literature or writing, are instead pursuing their illegitimate goals of transforming the views of other people’s children on the contentious issue of homosexuality."
Higgins lamented the fact that English teachers in particular are given leeway, based on their ability to choose topics, to advance their personal beliefs through their choice of curriculum.
"Arnold, like countless other English teachers, bases her text selections on whether the ideas conform to and advance her socio-political goals and her particular moral convictions," said Higgins. "And she’s doing this with public money."
To contact Elkhorn high school:
Tina Bosworth, principal
482 E. Geneva St.
Elkhorn, WI 53121
[Tel] (262) 723-4920
[Fax] (262) 723-8092
To read the "Teaching Tolerance" article, go to: http://www.tolerance.org/teach/magazine/grant.jsp?p=0&is=44
To view the "Hidden Homophobia Unit" curriculum content, go to: http://www.tolerance.org/teach/activities/activity.jsp?ar=1017