Date: 30 June 2013
Books Completed: 133
Books Left: 67
A Facebook friend recently made a post that was very disturbing to me. As a librarian, educator, and human, I feel a need to comment.
First of all, here are some post excerpts:
“…as an educator, it is our responsibility to acknowledge…differences and have zero tolerance on bullying.”
“Read books about two mommies and two daddies to kindergarteners?”
“Promot[ing] gays, lesbians, and bisexuals should not be part of our job.”
“My professor is so biased…”
It seems that this person is taking a cultural class, and one day the topic was alternative sexuality. This person seems to think that reading a book to kindergarteners about a topic promotes said topic—whatever the topic might happen to be (in this case homosexuality).
This type of thinking never ceases to amaze me.
Since when did all reading become persuasive? When I was a teacher, I remember identifying three purposes for reading: to be entertained, to be informed, and to perform a task. Whatever our purpose for reading may be, yes we are influenced by what we read, but it doesn’t mean we embrace and subscribe to every opinion we encounter. How can we have tolerance for another point of view if we only read information that supports the POV we already have? How can we acknowledge our differences if we don’t know they exist? How can you learn about anything new if you only read about what you already know?
Intellectual freedom is integral to librarianship—we all have the right to read whatever we want, and no one has the right to deny us access to any information available to the public. I realize the writer of the post is a teacher and not a librarian, but it is alarming to me that the educator wants to deny students information that the educator doesn’t agree with.
You see, while the Facebook writer mentioned the professor’s biases (and I wasn’t in the class, so I can’t speak to the validity of that claim) I think the writer actually revealed personal biases in the post. While claiming to want to be tolerant, the writer revealed disdain for homosexuality. We are all entitled to our own opinions, so I don’t have a problem with that. I just wish that the writer would have called it like it is: “I don’t like homosexuality so I’m uncomfortable in acknowledging the concept in any way.” Not a noble opinion, perhaps, but at least honest.
The thing is, like it or not, “non-traditional” families are a part of any public school community. At my school, there are two that I know of (one family has two moms, the other two dads). There might be more. Does it matter? Of course not. But it burns me up to think that an educator wants to discount the families of these two students just because the make-up of these families causes personal discomfort. And the fire only builds when I think that an educator believes that reading something equals promoting something. And then the flames become an inferno when I realize that, knowingly or not, an educator is advocating censorship.
OK. I’ll get off my high horse now.