To the Editor:
In the Feb. 22, 2012, issue there was a Commentary titled “Dignity for All.” The author, Peter DeWitt discussed an issue that students are experiencing in grades K-12. He says that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, students are being ostracized in schools and he accuses educators of allowing it to happen.
He says: “What if we could do things differently? What if we could have an impact on these students? What if we found ways to engage them through curriculum or after-school activities, or helped them feel welcome in our schools by providing a safe space?”
My question for Mr. DeWitt is this: How are these goals any different from the goals that we as educators should already have for all our students? Why should curriculum look any different because of someone’s sexual orientation? Perhaps we are asking too much of educators. I don’t believe that it is really the teacher’s job to solve the social issues of each individual student.
I recognize the struggles that LGBT students are facing within their peer groups, but if we put the responsibility on the teachers to fix these problems, where does it end? Hasn’t the goal for teachers always been to create a safe and comfortable environment for all their students? Therefore, his final comment that “the mission of the public school system is to educate all students, and that must include LGBT students” should be apparent.
The writer is pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching degree at Willamette University, in Salem, Ore.
A version of this article appeared in the April 04, 2012 edition of Education Week as Teachers Should Not Be Responsible for Social Issues