Slider 1

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Representation, Please. Please

Come back to me, Gongyla, here tonight,
You, my rose, with your Lydian lyre.
There hovers forever around you delight:
A beauty desired.
Even your garment plunders my eyes.
I am enchanted: I who once
Complained to the Cyprus-born goddess,
Whom I now beseech
Never to let this lose me grace
But rather bring you back to me:
Amongst all mortal women the one
I most wish to see.

-- Sappho (Translated by Paul Roche)

I’ve always considered it a great shame that I did not know until after I started college who Sappho was. In case by chance you are in the same boat I was in, Sappho of Lesbos was an incredibly famous poet who wrote of her attraction both to men, and, more famously, women. In fact, she is the reason we use the term Lesbian, derived from the Island she called home. Where, I wondered at first, was Sappho when in high school we looked through a barrage of poets? Where are any of the many famous LGBTQ+ creatives, historical figures, and so forth in our classrooms? As a youngster with a passion for writing, I would’ve loved to see myself in this poet! Not to mention that seeing historical figures with diverse experiences of gender and sexuality gives context to the modern LGBTQ+ experience. That is to say, when one knows our history we suddenly stop seeming as though we sprung out of nowhere, an invention of modern times.

Although there are a plethora of important issues going on in relation to our schools in this day and age, I’ve always felt that the battle to have at least some LGBTQ+ history recognized is an important one. Especially since LGBTQ+ youth are often estranged from older community members on the basis of fears that they will make inappropriate mentors, these youths are starved for representation. Just seeing themselves in the people they study in history or english could be uplifting for kids who are often struggling with acceptance, both among others and within themselves. Our censorship of LGBTQ+ history creates the illusion that the identities kids experience are somehow not safe for the classroom and sexualizes young LGBTQ+ people by implying that their identities, even outside of any explicitly sexual context, are inappropriate.

With the start of this current school year (2016-2017), California is set to become the first state to include guidelines for LGBT representation courtesy of the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act. However, in our current political climate other states may be left lagging behind. Especially in light of HR 899, a Bill that had been introduced to the House of Representatives that would work to abolish the Department of Education by the end of December of 2018. While our country is far from having unified educational standards in regards to these topics to begin with, the potential abolishment of any larger oversight could make it even more difficult for standards like those in the FAIR act to take off for additional lack of unity among school systems. Overall, we face uncertain times for progress in LGBTQ+ education, but it’s a battle worth fighting. 

Submitted by Dana Lund

No comments:

Post a Comment