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The Forum > Article Comments > The gender agenda > Comments

The gender agenda : Comments

By Kevin Donnelly, published 17/6/2005

Kevin Donnelly argues schools might be just too politically correct when it comes to the issue of gender and sexuality.

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Donnelly notes: "Apparently, the teacherís aim was to prompt students to imagine what it would be like to be a minority group and, hopefully, to teach them to be more sensitive and accepting of different sexual practices and lifestyles." Then goes on to point out that our Prime Minister thinks this kind of PC approach is wrong? I think the teacher apparently thinks that empathy is an important character trait that is worth developing, whereas politicians like John Howard see no advantage in a society that treats minorities with respect.
Posted by rancitas, Friday, 17 June 2005 11:21:13 AM
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This is laughable, but also just plain nasty. Donnelly describes homosexuality as a "lifestyle" - which is ridiculous. He says that "English teachers' associations are also strong advocates of alternative sexual lifestyles", like what ?? S&M ? bygamy ? And in the strange world of Donnelly, the fact that there are homosexual people somehow "undermines heterosexuality".

The comes the usual attack on 'political correctness" eg the AEU is a "strong advocate of a politically correct approach to gender". Replace the phrase 'politically correct' with "a human rights" approach to gender and it's a bit different, isn't it ?

Political correctness in this case means critical thinking and Donnelly can't stand it. But students need good training in this especially in relation to what they see in the media. Once taught, critical thinking will be usefully applied in other areas!

Then Donnelly raves against some articles in one issue of a teachers' journal - aren't teachers allowed to express ideas to each other? Maybe teachers shouldn't think - just repeat what's always been done before.

Finally comes a plea for a "traditional sense of what it means to be male or female" - that would be Mum (5 kids) at home cooking & cleaning, and Dad at work (going to the footy on Sat) - for Donnelly the world just hasn't changed.
Posted by solomon, Friday, 17 June 2005 1:15:58 PM
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Oh dear, Kevin, your political spots are showing.

Donnelly claims teachers "have pushed the rights of gays, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people on the basis that there is nothing wrong with such lifestyles". There isn't. It's just that most people are heterosexual.

Come out, Kevin, say it. Homosexuals are evil, morally corrupt, hell bent on taking over the world, pantsing little kids and rogering grandmothers. You wish!

The arguments are Hansonesque, blithering oversimplification saying that all is bad bad bad. It would be nice if it was that easy. I had a look at the Queensland Education website - I have to say it's a very even handed approach to masculinity issues that seeks to address the social ills associated with testosterone-fuelled boofheadery.

The opening paragraph about the year nine teacher asking students to imagine the whole world was gay except them dipped into the sensationalism beloved of the simplistic. Most red blooded year nine boys would be seeking the nearest bonkable female. I'll bet the lesson was a bit of a disaster.

Schools can never be too politically correct.

The major determiner of students' attitudes towards masculinity, sexuality and other shock-horror charged subjects is the student's parents. Nobody else.
Posted by Baxter Sin, Friday, 17 June 2005 1:23:18 PM
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Oh no, people will be more sensitive to others feelings? More considerate? What horror!!

The "policy paper argues that gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender individuals have a right to teach sex education and that such learning should be 'positive in its approach.'"
Apparently the author thinks it best to shame GLBT people and keep them ignorant by censoring pertinent information.

"National and state English teachers' associations are also strong advocates of alternative sexual lifestyles."
The use of "sexual lifestyles" naturally carries the implication that one's sexual orientation can be changed easily or beneficially. I suspect the teachers associations know better and aren't actually advocating GLBT so much as tolerance and social acceptance.

"Since the late 1990s, conferences as well as official publications have sought to undermine heterosexuality by arguing there is nothing special about traditional approaches to gender."
Is the author under the misconception that GLBT are simply different gender roles? Or does he think that by doing things traditionally regarded as feminine, men can catch gay? Even though there are male homosexuals that are traditionally masculine. (Similarly for women.) Given the rest of the article, it appears to be the former.

"The South Australian Education Department also argues that gender is a social construct and not a result of biology."
Hopefully the author is not also trying to say that say that gender, ie. sexual identity in relation to society, is not also heavily influenced by our society/culture. He probably is.

"Most parents are happy for their children to develop a traditional sense of what it means to be male or female."
So what? Not everyone will fit naturally into the traditional forms and schools must cater for this. Traditional roles aren't necessarily superior, why shouldn't they be critically examined and alternatives be explored? Or must schools always promote women as homemakers and men as breadwinners?

Historically, and still, most feminine gender roles have been negative and socially enforced in an oppressive manner, (To a lesser degree this is also true for men.) with transgendered and gender-queer issues being completely ignored. Hiding this fact will only increase that harm.
Posted by Deuc, Friday, 17 June 2005 2:05:59 PM
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Here I was ready to give Kevin a roasting, but it looks like everyone's beaten me to it :-) Lets go through some of the stuff he said:

"The reality is ... there is nothing wrong with such lifestyles."

There is nothing wrong with such "lifestyles", although as someone mentioned before calling these "GLBTisms" a "lifestyle" implies that it is a conscious choice, which any GLBTer (haven't seen that acronym before!) will tell you is not the case. Their sexuality is just what feels right and natural to them, the same as heterosexuality just feels right and natural to me.

"[GLBT] individuals have a right to teach sex education..."

I can't see how their "alternative lifestyle" would suddenly render them incapable of giving kids the facts of life.

"...sought to undermine heterosexuality by arguing there is nothing special about traditional approaches to gender."

Sought to undermine heterosexuality?! $10 says that the majority of people in English teachers' associations are, like the majority of people in general, heterosexual. Heterosexuality is vital to our continued existance, and as I've already argued isn't a choice, so what would be the point in attempting to "undermine heterosexuality" and why would they seek to undermine themselves? It's an utterly ridiculous argument. And once again, there is nothing special about traditional approaches to gender. Have our traditional approaches to gender ever even gotten us close to creating a happy, peaceful world? Isn't that what we all really want, deep down - a better world? Obviously you can't blame all the world's ills on traditional gender roles, but there is definitely room for improvement. Why not try something new?

I will make one point however - I do think biology definitely had a role to play in creating our current gender roles that shouldn't be forgotten. The student health nurse at my old high school is a bit (ha!) of a feminist. She told us how after she had her first child (a boy) she decided she was going to give him lego rather than toy guns. He ended up making guns out of the lego :-)
Posted by Albert, Friday, 17 June 2005 9:00:11 PM
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Ones gender role in boys is largely determined within the first few years of childhood as they build emotional bonds with mother and father, or if those bonds are disfunctional orientation disturbance may arise. In girls is is their emotional bonding with fathers and especially in their pubity year, if this is disfunctional then orientation disturbance may occur. What is natural is what is biological designed, any other behaviour as normal exhibits some psychological disturbance and unfulfilled person.

Good education is about wholeness and personal completeness, and sexuality can only be fulfilled within a biological role.
Posted by Philo, Friday, 17 June 2005 11:16:49 PM
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