Friday, February 04, 2005


This is going to be another one of those "am I missing something or am I just homophobic?" posts.

Its choose-your-kindergarten-time of year around here so our neighborhood is buzzing. At least three local neighbor kids are going to school in the fall, and a few more the year after that so the stakes are high. The deal is, we don't have a neighborhood school, so we all go into this lottery.

Anyway, I got to talking with a neighborhood lesbian mom at preschool-drop-off this morning about it all.

Have you gone on any of the school tours? She asks.
We haven't. BioMom has been set on Catholic school for some time, hence the circle-tour of liberal catholic churches in the area. See also this post for background details.

The other mom then says something to the effect of being interested in other kinds of diversity (race, class etc.) intimating that the good schools in the area are lacking that.

It took me a bit to catch on. I think she meant that the gay/lesbian issue is one of diversity and that somehow the public schools have that figured out. But that by going to one of the good schools (which are about 2% poverty, and .0000002% African American) you sacrifice the "other kinds" of diversity.

I felt immediately defensive about this. It seems to me that the kid population in all schools will be (if statistics are correct) equally "diverse" when it comes to sexuality. Yes, it is possible that Catholic schools may be less likely to attract glbt staff than public schools (of course, that doesn't count the nuns or the priests. Let's just count the "out" folks). But more importantly, I guess I never really considered this aspect of diversity important enough to seek it out:

Can I ask, what percentage of your staff is gay or lesbian? Bisexual?

This is absolutely not to say that I don't want the FYO to have positive GLBT role models. It is, however, to say that that wasn't what I was looking for in a school.

On the sexuality front, all BioMom and I were looking for was a school that would accept her family and not make her feel like a freak.

On the diversity front: well, this is a rock and a hard place. And, again, I guess I must define diversity here. To me diversity is in part race and class. Sex/gender and sexuality possibly on a more secondary level. Furthermore, diversity is about having a diversity in thought, approaches to the world, and to teaching. More than diversity itself though, in terms of a school, I would appreciate the promotion of diversity in all its forms.

What is difficult though, is that diversity (defined on the simple demographic scaless of race and class) is nearly directly correlated (negatively) with test scores. There is certainly an argument to this: even though on average a school does bad, that doesn't mean your kid does bad.

But that's a hard vitamin to swallow when its your kid.

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