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Education Goes Beyond Curriculum

October 5, 2009

Yesterday’s Portland Press Herald ran a letter to the editor in response to Bill Nemitz’s column on the impact of the Question 1 debate on kids.  The writer gets to a point that I think is often missed.  While Question 1 is not about education in the way that Stand for Marriage as attempted to make it (being about school curriculum), it is about what we teach our children.  It’s about what kids learn about how they should treat other kids whose parents are gay and about what kids who are struggling with their own sexuality learn about how society views them and how they should view themselves.

I appreciated Bill Nemitz’s column that recognized the potential impact of the recent Yes on 1 television ads on children growing up in households with same-sex parents (Kids serve on home front in culture war,” Sept. 20).

I would like to offer that these messages are in fact harmful to all children regardless of their family makeup. I rarely allow my daughter to watch network television and these ads are among the reasons why. But certainly many of her classmates do, and I am concerned about the harmful, negative messages they get.

Perhaps, after learning that my daughter has two moms, these children will not want to play with her. Perhaps they are already friends but might feel reluctant to play at our house because it feels too dangerous or scary a place based on what they have heard on television.

Perhaps these children or their peers will approach adolescence and realize that they might be gay, and feel the weight of the marginalization, isolation and shame these ads suggest in how they are able to accept this fact about themselves.

Children are looking everywhere, all the time, for influences on how to act, how to form their own opinions, what to think about their world and how to behave within it. They seek approval and acceptance and validation.

It seems that the sponsors of these ads have irresponsibly not considered, or in fact do not care about, the damage that they can and will do to all of our children and their developing senses of fairness, tolerance, kindness and even in some cases, self-esteem and hope for happy, healthy and satisfying lives, regardless of whom they discover they love.

Amy Hannaford

South Portland

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