As the Illinois Senate prepares to vote on marriage equality today, Laurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute, an anti-gay hate group, has published another screed against same-sex marriage. Her concern, as per usual, is that children will learn gay people exist and have families, but she also writes about how upset she is that gay people are even being hired as teachers:
Public schools will be hiring teachers who are in legal “homosexual marriages.” These teachers will put photos of their homosexual spouses on their desks and talk about their homosexual spouses to their students. Such images and ideas coming from teachers whom children love and admire will powerfully shape the feelings and beliefs of young boys and girls, particularly when such images and ideas are reinforced countless times in other cultural contexts. Such images and ideas will undermine what is being taught at home.
Some will argue that schools are already hiring teachers in homosexual relationships, so the legalization of same-sex marriage won’t change anything. They are only partly correct. Although schools are, unfortunately, already hiring teachers in homosexual relationships, once the government recognizes homosexual unions as marriages, administrators and school boards—particularly in elementary schools—will have the social stigma that makes them reluctant to hire teachers in homosexual unions knocked out from under them. And this, of course, is the chief motivation for homosexuals to pursue same-sex marriage when they already have all the benefits and privileges of marriage through Illinois’ civil union law.
As Jeremy Hooper points out, the question of gay teachers was settled decades ago and even Ronald Reagan opposed the Briggs Initiative to ban gay teachers in California. But given Higgins’ penchant for candid homophobia, her objection to gay teachers is perhaps not as surprising as her delusion that her argument has anything to do with same-sex marriage.
First, there seems to be little foundation for her argument that schools have “social stigma that makes them reluctant to hire teachers in homosexual unions.” There are gay teachers everywhere teaching at all grades without controversy. And even in states that don’t recognize same-sex marriage, surely many of those teachers have a spouse or partner’s picture on their desk anyway. Higgins is arguing that gay people want marriage equality so that they have a better chance at getting hired as teachers. That’s not just wrong and loaded with offense, it just doesn’t even make sense. Refreshingly, she’s at least not arguing that all gays are pedophiles, like most of her conservative allies.