Just prior to the last Day of Silence, two teachers at Port Washington High School (Wisconsin) distributed a questionnaire meant to give students an inkling of what a gay person might go through in life. The questionnaire, developed by the late Martin Rochlin was distributed to some 400 students (out of 930) and was used in a class discussion period. The 10 questions were some common things a gay person might be asked, but with the roles reversed, such as “What do you think caused your heterosexuality” and “Could it be that your heterosexuality is just a phase”. They weren’t meant to be literally answered as in a survey, but to spur discussion within the assembled classes.
Predictably, some of the parents were not amused and are pushing for disciplinary action against the two teachers involved. The principal of the school claimed he had no knowledge of the questionnaire and therefore had not given his approval (though the assistant principal was reportedly aware of the content). One teacher has been put on paid administrative leave while the other is still teaching classes.
When I first heard about this on the news this morning, it was presented much differently (print example). The most often quoted question was “If you have never slept with someone of you own gender, then how do you know you wouldn’t prefer it?” Nothing was said about the pretense of the exercise and so of course one was left thinking this was some twisted version of “don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it”. While if anything I am conservative about presenting sexual content to young children via curricula, when put in context this seemed to me a reasonable, clever way to open up the discussion to high school age youth. The Day of Silence and Day of Truth are already bringing the subject to the forefront, why not use the opportunity wisely?
No matter what one’s opinion of the wisdom of all this may be, the distorted way it is being represented is not a good lesson to be teaching.