I just started to teach my Race, Ethnicity and Immigration course last week. Last night was the second class. In between last Thursday and last night I had to think long and hard about whether I was going to come out to my class. I have never done it before because it has never been appropriate to do it. When I am teaching about the ancient Chinese, there just is no need for it. BUT, part of what I can teach about for my Race, Ethnicity and Immigration course are issues surrounding the glbt community as well. And Proposition 8 is such a vile proposition since it gives the population the chance to take away a right that has already been given.
So last night I reminded the class that this course was primarily on the bad aspects of American history–it is about groups that have been persecuted and their struggles to overcome their persecution. The glbt community sits squarely in that struggle. So I asked the class if they had heard about Prop. 8. To my surprise, nearly everyone shook their heads yes. I then told them that the whole basis of that Proposition is to take away a right that has already been given. I also told them that I just married Doug, my partner for nearly 17 years and that on Nov. 5, I make wake up having to wonder if the majority has taken away my marriage right out from under me. I also told them that everyone can vote the way they want to because this is, after all, a democracy (I should have reminded them the inconsistency with being a democracy but allowing a vote on taking away a right, but I didn’t). I also told them that our course was not only about learning the history of these persecuted groups, but hopefully to apply what they have learned to their life and to hopefully make it better and to make the lives of others better. I took it one step further and said too that I hoped that no one in the class would vote to take away my right that has already been given. And I left it there and went on to define terms that my students need to know to understand the history of our country in terms of race, ethnicity and immigration.
I hope it made an impact on them. While people openly state they have already voted Yes for Prop. 8, and they seem to be pretty happy that they are voting to take away a right of another group of Americans, I hope that most of my class, if not all, will now vote No on 8. I’ve made them aware of the issue and I certainly will be talking about it again. Just as I showed them racist ads against Obama, I am going to show them bigoted videos from various groups who spout lies about the glbt community.