(This post is Assignment #2, Parts 1&2 for ECS 210)
First of all, if you want to take a look at my summaries of 10 different anecdotes from The New Teacher Book (2010) (pictured below), here is the link!
Second of all, the story I chose to dig deeper into was “Heather’s Moms Got Married” by Mary Cowhey. I find gay marriage and equality in marriage rights to be a very pertinent topic in today’s society; we hear about it in the news, on social media, and from those around us all the time, so I think it would be irresponsible for educators to ignore this and neglect addressing it with their students.
As I reflect more on Cowhey’s piece, I feel a lot of frustration and find myself questioning why this is even an issue at all. In the story, the children (who were in their early elementary years) could easily distinguish that discriminating against someone and not allowing them to marry the person they love simply because they are of the same gender is just plain wrong. Such is the beauty of childhood. Children aren’t born to discriminate, segregate, or hate certain types of people. Their experiences in society and their families, however, shape them as they grow up into adults that both notice and separate those who are different.
As I was looking over some jot notes I made about this story, I noticed that I had written something along these lines: “If children can realize the fact that denying equal marriage rights is immoral, then why can’t adults?” When I reread it, I realized that that statement is undermining the vast capabilities and cognitive complexities of children by thinking that anything children think should be easy for adults to think as well. This realization, for me, has a deep connection to my Philosophy of Education; I now know that sometimes, despite my best interests, I may not see children as being capable, much as I may agree with the statement that they are. It was a powerful inner self reflective moment for me as a future educator.
Back to my frustrations with the difficulty that some of society has with the acceptance of gay marriage, though. The way I see it, love is love. I expressed some of my personal feelings about this issue in a poem (which you can see in a larger format here):
I found that writing this poem really allowed me to put myself in the shoes of someone who is gay. It breaks my heart to know that something as beautiful and pure as love can be illegal. How is that possible? No matter which way you look at it, love is about two people who have “an intense feeling of deep affection” for each other (that is the dictionary’s definition, by the way). Whether these feelings are between a man and woman, two women, or two men is completely irrelevant. This is the way I want my future students to see it. How can there be anything wrong with something as wonderful as love?
Here is one of my absolute favourite videos, which I think really sums up my feelings.
Cowhey addressed the idea of using children’s books to broach this subject with elementary-age students. I fully support this method – stories are a great way to get children engaged, provide them with characters they can empathize with, and showcase life lessons in a more exciting manner. Stories are very powerful teachers within themselves, which leads me to share with you a list of literary resources that can help a teacher to address gay marriage with their students in an approachable way.
- Gay Children’s Books
- Children’s Books That Help You Explain ‘Gay’ To Your Kids
- Gay-Themed Picture Books for Children *also has titles in other languages for ELL students*
- Picture Books with Gay Parents
- Gays & Lesbians in Books for Children *this is a really thorough list!*
And just in case you’re ever worried that teaching about gay marriage/sexual orientation could upset administrators or parents, just refer them to Article 10 of the STF Code of Ethics, which reads as follows:
“develop teaching practices that recognize and accommodate diversity within the classroom, the school and the community” (which include differences in “language, religion, ethnic background, family status, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, physical abilities, and mental abilities”).