Member Rara Avis
Want to hear an interesting fact that almost everybody knows but almost nobody really considers on a conscious level?
I stumbled across this back in the early Seventies, writing an article for a trade magazine about the food service industry, based on some research at Michigan State. It's true, though, in any industry, and indeed, in any human situation. When someone comes to your table to take your order, or you meet someone at a business meeting or a local bar, or even if you just glimpse someone for half a second across a crowded bus, there's always one thing you remember about them. It probably won't be their name, the color of the hair or eyes, or whether they are left- or right-handed. Those are characteristics of being human, but they generally aren't defining characteristics. They're not necessarily important enough to us to remember.
You will always, however, remember their gender.
It seems to be almost impossible for the human mind to think of someone without simultaneously labeling them as male or female. Gender is a defining characteristic. Even in those rare androgynous instances where you couldn't quite be sure, your very doubt becomes the one thing you won't forget about them. Sexuality is so deeply ingrained in the human mind that is always the first step in defining another person. Certainly, it is vitally important in how we define ourselves.
We entertain many characteristics throughout life, like hair color or eye glasses, and assume many roles, like parent, business person, writer, or artist. Those usually don't define us, though, if only because most of them can change many times over the course of a lifetime. I'm not sure it's fair to compare trivial characteristics with defining characteristics like gender, race, and yea, in my opinion, sexual orientation.
People need role models, if only to show them the possibilities they face are, indeed, possible. We choose our role models in large part based on the defining characteristics we have in common with them. Men have had diverse role models for thousands of years, women for only a few hundred, and Blacks for only a few decades. Every prominent role model, every person who has shown it can be done by doing it, raises the bar for all the others in the world who share common defining characteristics. It's important for women to SEE they aren't limited by their gender, it's important for Blacks to SEE they aren't limited by their color, and yea, I think it's important for gays to SEE that no door is closed to them because of sexual preference.
In short, I agree completely with Senator Kuehl's goal. I think we need a lot more people like her, not just in government but in every walk of life.
Unfortunately, I can't agree with the Senator's methods.
Not all problems have a solution that can be mandated by law. Just as I believe you can't successfully legislate morality, I also recognize that you can't always legislate away injustice. I think we can and should encourage greater availability of gay role models, both contemporaneous and historical, and do MUCH more to discourage stereotypes, but I don't think government force is ever going to be a solution.
You can't, after all, pass a law forbidding fear or hate. It just doesn't work. That certainly doesn't mean we can't pass laws that encourage understanding and goodwill, however. I would, for example, fully support any bill that explicitly told historians, writers, and text book publishers that they COULD detail sexual orientation with no fear of discrimination by school boards or parents because of such inclusion.