Thursday, October 02, 2008

the classroom as a stage for inequity

Education is a right, a requisite to any growing person until he or she reaches the prime of learning. Yes, there is actually no limit of the intake of knowledge, the absorption of information, but everything must come to an end. What matters here is that one has to go to school and comprehend as much as that person can. But what if, at school alone, the person is deprived of proper erudition? That the teacher does not give an encouraging environment for learning to this specific student because he or she shows signs of difference in sexual orientation? In a short article entitled Gay Discourse in Adult Education, the author Robert J. Hill delves into this situation and expounds the “whys” and the “hows” of it.

Without doubt, this is another matter of dubious tyranny. Like almost all forms of oppression, Hill states that patriarchy is still the main reason for this issue, the “driving force” that makes homosexuals earn such partiality. In his write up, he specifically sets the issue on the context of the American classroom. He says that “Early childhood education has historically been an atmosphere conducive to heterosexism. As a result, gay and lesbian students find themselves ostracized by their peers.” The downside here is that, if not none, only a few is openly willing to solve this problem. Even in this modern age, discrimination still lingers in a community like a wolf prowling on the next furry rabbit.

Basically, these are what Hill points in his article: homosexuality is not part of the dominant culture therefore they homosexuals are second class, homosexuality is not given the same educational advocacy and finally, homosexuality is suppressed due to the fact that homophobia is a vital component of maintaining a status quo. It is these words that struck me the most because, somehow, they ring a bell in some universities across the country. Knowledge, while it is a broad term, is always freely provided through education. But if knowledge is not properly relayed to one or two students because of lame reasons such as the student is gay and whatnot, then education is not as effective as it is supposed to be. Establishing certain boundaries between straight and not is not really making sense at all.

Like what Suzanne Pharr said in her article, Homophobia as a Weapon of Sexism, Hill also states that homosexuality is considered a threat to the equilibrium of patriarchy because it breaks the constructed “common” setting of what is good and what is apt. This also explains the reason for the “horse-blind” straight crowd to completely ignore the necessities of homosexuals. Since these gays and lesbians are just some small chunk of a much larger society, therefore, they must also deserve only a small chunk of respect, or more appropriately, a small chunk of everything. This group of people with such behavior (the homosexuals) is then considered a mistake—they could tarnish everything that is “right,” that even the stability of culture may also be threatened. Teachers are theoretically the second parents of a child ergo they nurture values, moral, and ethics aside from those being provided by the biological parents. Because of these alone, a teacher is already confined to a strict structure, for these three things—values, moral, and ethics—are based on the established norm that sustains patriarchy. To quote Hill, “Anything deemed as contrary to patriarchy will be suppressed to the best of the majority's ability.” In other words, no matter how glorified the image of a teacher, instilling integrity to both young and old, he or she cannot get away from being biased to a gay and a lesbian because what’s sensible to a heterosexual is not really rational to a homosexual (unless, of course, if the teacher is gay).

But just like Batman and the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, “one cannot co-exist without the other.” Unfortunately, I can say that it is an inseparable partnership that goes on and on through the years, this homophobics and homosexuals. Yes, key answers and elucidation have been formulated to eradicate this gnawing parasite from society but it will be constantly present if the majority’s mindset hasn’t changed. Robert Hill’s words may be opinionated, just like Pharr, but it is always like that. No one can get away from such reaction when he or she is ardent with his or her advocacy. His words may be leaning on angst, full of contempt but overall, I agree with Hill—instead of being a relaxed and beneficial four-cornered room, the classroom becomes a political setting, a stage of inequity that only magnifies the prejudices on homosexuals. It’s as if the biggest problems in the world are just hierarchy and corruption, economic fluctuation, poverty, and anything that comes out of a candidate running for the elections but, really, I think the biggest problem is ignorance. It is this ignorance that keeps all people confined in their shells, unenlightened to what is really happening in the world. What always matters most is that a person goes to school and learn, regardless of gender, for ignorance is not a good excuse for one not to know one.

No comments: