now for something completely different. this post contains no references to gregory house or the weasley twins. it’s political, y’all.
1. a shoutout from a most unexpected place! apparently, the anti-atlantic yards website nolandgrab.org is interested in what i had to say about mr. h to the izzo. check it out. um, yeah, that’s me under the huffington post. that’s right, the huffington post.
2. this is an amazon review i wrote of a horrible book called you’re teaching my child what?: a physician exposes the lies of sex ed and how they harm your child that i found at barnes & noble the other day. stupid ideas about sex education and homophobia are two of my buttons, so it seemed pretty worth my time to spend a couple hours on this. hopefully it will end up on amazon, but it might be too long, so thank god it will remain here, at least, for posterity. enjoy.
I found this dangerously popular book prominently displayed on a front table at my local Barnes & Noble and flipped through it– Grossman, a true propagandist, has successfully mastered the art of a sensationalist title that will grab a reader’s attention; I have to give her that. Beyond her New York Post-like ability to scare a reader into listening to what she has to say, there is nothing useful about this expose, an ideological rant by someone who is woefully uninformed.
Grossman advocates abstinence-only education, a methodology which has been proved time and time again to be ineffective. Grossman is too busy lamenting the high frequency of STIs among American youth to take a moment to consider that when young people are simply taught that sex is bad and scary and wrong, and, further, that condoms are ineffective and that there’s no point in learning about safe sex practices or, God forbid, being given access to safe sex resources, they then engage in unsafe sex at much higher rates than if they’re provided with education that promotes good decision-making. The philosophy behind organizations like Planned Parenthood, a name which Grossman throws around as if she were referring to some kind of secret police, is to ensure that young people stay as safe as possible, no matter what choices they make. I agree with Grossman that the high rate of STIs among young people is disturbing– imagine how many of those cases could have been prevented if those young people were made aware of the safe sex options that existed for them, instead of being taught in Grossman’s ideal sex ed classroom, in which such information is shunned in favor of scare tactics, and at the end of the day, educators must simply cross their fingers and hope that no student will ignore the advice and go ahead and have sex anyway, without the condom that they’ve just been informed won’t work. Good thing teenagers don’t tend to be rebellious, so there’s no way that would happen.
But wait, there’s more, and it gets worse. According to Grossman, the sex ed programs in this country are remiss for not informing students that STIs are for more prevalent among homosexuals and other people who engage in sexual “fringe behaviors,” an extremely dubious claim and an overused convenient excuse for blatant homophobia. Grossman chides educators for being opposed to referring “experimenting” students– that is, those questioning their sexuality and beginning to identify as gay, lesbian or queer– to conversion therapists, who work with queer youth to convert them back into heterosexuals. She’s a big fan of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, and recounts her own experiences as a (so-called) educator referring students to NARTH’s website, which, I was happy to read, were met with such outrage “you’d think I had announced my membership in the Nazi party.” It’s bad enough that Grossman is spreading misinformation about the benefits of abstinence-only education, then we learn that she has a homophobic axe to grind, basing her bigotry on ridiculous so-called “scientific” facts about homosexuality, and has sadly not learned what more and more Americans are now growing to understand, that sexuality is not a decision, not something that can be turned off or scared away. It saddens me to think that someone who’s managed to get as far as a medical degree still doesn’t understand this painfully obvious fact.
Lastly, Grossman brings her gift of ignorant rabble-rousing to the subject of transgender issues in a chapter called Genderland, basically a manifesto to the fact that she doesn’t understand anything about the transgendered community, and, like early humans convinced that a solar eclipse signified the apocalypse, chooses to yell and mock and stamp her foot in response to this potentially challenging subject rather than take the time to learn anything about it. Grossman affects a condescending tone, asking her readers, “Did you know that apparently there’s a difference between gender and sexuality? Did you know that if you don’t like the sex you were assigned at birth, you can go ahead and change it? If you’re confused, so am I.” Grossman puts educating students about gender identification on the same level as encouraging them to have unprotected sex, or showing pornographic movies in class. Transgendered youth in America face an uphill battle against bigotry and ignorance, and as long as they continue to be mocked and dismissed by the likes of Miriam Grossman (a “physician”!), this environment of intolerance will continue.
I am angry with Grossman and others who share her views, who continue to insist that homosexuality is wrong and dangerous, that transgenderism is fake or illegitimate or perverse, and that the best way to educate youth is by rapping them across the knuckles and insisting that sex is wrong and knowing about safe sex options is irrelevant. But more than that, I’m appalled by the accolades of the other reader reviews and on the back of Grossman’s book, from grateful parents who are shocked to learn these Orwellian “truths.” I fear for such an easily brainwashed populace. I fear for these parents’ children, and the amount of hatred and misinformation that is apparently, in 2009, still alive and well. I am a firm believer in the first amendment, and in Ms. Grossman’s right to say whatever she wants and to have her opinions heard. I only hope that more people can see this book for what it really is, a glorified pamphlet of ignorant and uninformed ideology.