OH NO, Gay People Exist! IFI Freaks Out

If I asked you what came to your mind when I said the word “homosexuality,” what would you think of?

I would think of how my gay friends still can’t get legally married in most states, how I’m hoping to attend the Chicago Pride Parade this weekend to show my support for the LGBT community, and about a gay friend I saw a couple weeks ago.

If you ask the Illinois Family Institute’s Laurie Higgins what comes to mind when she hears that word, guess what her answer is?

Anal sex. Oral sex, too.

Lots of sodomy, in any case.

Here’s the backstory: A local middle school invited speakers to talk to students about “the dangers of gang life, drugs, bullying, dropping out of school and other consequences of negative choices.”

Doesn’t sound like a problem… aren’t those things we want children to learn? Don’t do drugs, don’t be a bully, don’t drop out of school? Hearing it from people who suffered because they did those things can be incredibly effective.

Two of those speakers also told the students they were gay.

(I don’t know the context of their statements, but I could easily envision a scenario where the speakers were bullied or started doing drugs or had to drop out of school because of harassment they faced due to their sexuality, and that’s why they brought that up.)

The principal of the school backs up that theory:

[Principal Tom] Springborn said that because the topics that the two homosexual speakers were there to discuss were bullying and drug use, and because the speakers just mentioned but did not discuss at length their homosexuality, parents did not need to be notified ahead of time.

In any case, IFI cannot believe they would say such a thing without giving parents proper notification ahead of time. Imagine: REAL LIVE GAY PEOPLE! [Cue creepy background music.] Do we really want to expose children to… other human beings?!

So what’s the problem with people saying they’re gay?

When the two speakers announced that they were homosexual, they brought the image of two men having sex to the churning minds of a roomful of adolescents. Middle school students are completely justified in finding the idea of two men engaging in anal or oral sex repugnant, and sometimes children and adults laugh about ideas that make them uncomfortable and which they find offensive. Government employees have no right to expect or implicitly suggest that children not find the idea of two men having sex repugnant. Deviant sexual acts should not be respected, and school employees have no right to imply that they should be.

So two gay guys talk about how they were bullied and/or did drugs and why the students shouldn’t do those things… and Higgins acts like they were teaching the kids the best sexual positions.

If there was ever a difference between Christian conservatives and the rest of us, there it is. For me (and a lot of other atheists and liberal theists), sexual orientation is about a lot more than sex — it’s about love, it’s about civil rights, it’s about following your heart, it’s about being able to start a family, it’s about GLBT people having the same opportunities that I do as a straight person.

For them, it’s strictly about sex. Icky sex. Sex they don’t want to think about. (In true form, Higgins also compares homosexuality to incest…)

She thinks kids shouldn’t even be exposed to the idea that gay people exist until some undetermined age:

And it wasn’t just the speakers saying they were gay that upset Higgins.

It’s that they said they always knew they were gay!

(I know, I know. My jaw dropped when I read that, too. I always thought they just flipped on the gay gene sometime in college. Whoops!)

The two homosexual speakers did not merely announce that they were homosexual — which I would argue is no small thing in and of itself. They also said that they have always known that they’re homosexual.

Such a statement implies biological determinism. Were the [middle school] students also told there is no scientific evidence proving that homosexuality is biologically determined? Were students told that many immoral impulses emerge at the earliest ages? Were they told that childhood molestation could cause, in the words of a therapist who appeared on Oprah, “sexual orientation confusion”? Were students told that early molestation might result in “sexual orientation” confusion at such a young age that someone may not recall a time when they didn’t feel attracted to their same sex?

Got it, gays? IFI is onto you. They know you were molested as a child.

Of course, Higgins offers no links to citations to back up her statements and doesn’t even mention who this therapist is — saying the therapist appeared on Oprah is hardly a badge of honor. Oprah promoted The Secret, for fuck’s sake…

But again, the topic of discussion wasn’t about being a gay person. It was about making good decisions in life — not abusing drugs, not hurting other people, not dropping out of school. Making good decisions has nothing to do with your sexual orientation. But students might make bad decisions as a result of getting harassed due to their sexual orientation.

There’s a little more to the story than just this — a teacher may have overstepped her boundaries when speaking with a child, though it’s hard to tell since we never heard her side of the story. That’s the secondary issue, though.

The primary issue is that IFI is outraged because one parent of a 7th grade child didn’t like that people said they were gay around her son… We’re given no context as to why they said it.

Remember: conservative Christians love gay people.

They just don’t want children finding out they exist.

  • Anon

    Higgins and the IFI are living examples of Heinlein’s observation (warning?), “Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.” What fucking morons….

  • Mitch

    You seem angry today Hemant, not that this isn’t something worth being angry about, but you seem a lot more insulting than usual. Is everything alright?

  • http://massive-caffeine-consumption.blogspot.com/ Jen

    I remember telling a coworker once (after she told me she thought a gay colleague was “disgusting”) that if the only aspect of a relationship that she saw when she looked at two people was the sexual one…then SHE was the pervert, not them.
    Why do people only think of sex when they see a relationship between two people? When you see a little old man and woman walking hand in hand do you automatically imagine them naked?

    Also, I imagined all of the above blog taking place in a city council meeting, not unlike the one in ‘Footloose’ – loud mouthed, ignorant housewives and all. Just saying.

  • Lauren S

    Reminds me of the don’t say the gay song:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNVDJDTVKPw&feature=feedlik

  • Paul E

    Mitch: Why aren’t YOU angry? This is infuriating.

  • Jenny Wren

    I’m guessing this is the background music at IFI meetings.

    http://www.dramabutton.com/

  • Gabriel

    I know I shouldn’t. But I can’t help myself. When I see someone this hysterical over gay people I wonder how long before information comes out that they are engaging in homosexual behavior. Where does all of the hate come from?

  • Apsalar

    I don’t get the impression they mind thinking about gay sex all that much. Like, they wish they didn’t, cause it’s icky, and body parts going to all the wrong places, and sweaty, and bodily fluids, and just, can’t stop thinking about it…..

  • Michelle

    I love that people say it is “unnatural” because they find it gross. I find it would be way more gross to put the same level of thought into my family members having sex, what about you IFI?

  • PJB863

    Higgins is notorious for this type of screed. Frankly, she’d be infuriated if she found out a gay person used a drinking fountain in a public school, or just about anywhere else for that matter. She often writes horribly insulting and demeaning articles about gays and lesbians and thinks it makes her look good. What a self-righteous, sanctimonious piece of work she is!

    I read another blog (a gay one) called Box Turtle Bulletin. Blog owner Jim Burroway noticed that there are very, very few pictures of Higgins anywhere. She lobs these bombs at the LGBT community and individuals and manages to remain relatively anonymous because her name is quite common. There must be scores of people with the same name in Illinois. Burroway wrote a post on his blog a couple of months ago, and featured a picture of Higgins. I think it’s an excellent idea. Here’s a link: http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2011/04/15/31867.

    I’d advise anyone who responds to her rantings online to include a picture of her.

  • cat

    How dare she mention incest? Now I will be forced to spend hours imagining siblings going at it. Higgins has warped my fragile little mind! 😉

  • Canadian Atheist, eh!

    I remember telling a coworker once (after she told me she thought a gay colleague was “disgusting”) that if the only aspect of a relationship that she saw when she looked at two people was the sexual one…then SHE was the pervert, not them.

    Brilliant! I’m using this next chance I get!

    For me, the crux of this issue is that no one ever seems to question whether self-identifying heterosexuals had to make the choice to be hetero. I know I didn’t. Clearly, the bigots are just operating under the assumption that they’re “normal” and that anyone who differs from them in whichever way is, by default, not.

    But talk about your egocentric fallacies. Personally, I don’t think there’s any way to win this one directly. It’s going to be a long and painful slog through generations of socio-cultural evolution.

    Hurray for steadfastness and patience!

    (And also for the occasional “for fuck’s sake,” whether from Hemant or anyone.)

  • MrCheese

    I find the idea of sex with Laurie Higgins repugnant. I think I should tell her that.

  • PJB863

    I stand corrected. It was Tim Kincaid who posted Higgins’ picture.

  • Annie

    I just went to Higgins’ website to read her article. Oh my! My favorite part, is that after she encourages you to write a letter to share your outrage with the principal of the middle school, she asks that you “prayfully consider” pledging a monthly gift of $25, so they can continue this important harrassment work. I just may write the principal a thank you note.

    http://www.illinoisfamily.org/news/contentview.asp?c=35322

  • http://3harpiesltd.org/jwp Judith Bandsma

    What do I think of when I hear the word ‘homosexuality’?

    My granddaughter who will still have a lot of trouble being able to be part of a truly committed relationship with her girlfriend.

    And my niece in Holland who married her partner 2 years ago.

    I wish it could be the same for couples here.

  • dubliner
  • Justin Miyundees

    I think Tom Jones said it best in “You Can Leave Your Hat On”:

    “They don’t know what love is.”

  • Larry Meredith

    were any of the speakers atheist? I wonder if IFI would have more or less of a problem with an atheist speaker than a gay one. How about a gay atheist speaker? Do parents need to be informed twice in that case?

  • Richard Wade

    Tom Springborn is the Principal being targeted at the Hawthorn Middle School North in Vernon Hills, IL. Here is his email address:

    springbornt@hawthorn73.org

    He is probably swamped with Higgins’ minions’ hate mail. Help him out. Write to him and give him some moral support to counterbalance the crap. Include something in the subject line that shows your letter is different from the IFI bigots. Here’s what I wrote him:

    Subject: I support the CHOICES program

    Dear Principal Springborn,

    I applaud your CHOICES program that you had at your school recently. It sounds like it was excellent.

    It has come to my attention that some ignorant, hateful people, provoked by Laurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute may be giving you a hard time just because two of the program speakers identified themselves as being gay.

    I understand that the speakers did this to put the issue of bullying into context and to clarify their credibility as having experienced bullying. I fully support CHOICES inclusion of these two speakers in their panel, because bullying over sexual orientation is a very real, very harmful, and constant problem in our nation’s schools. We must stand up and fight it.

    Please do not let the IFI or any other hate group pressure you to discontinue this program. Use it again, just as it is, with the gay speakers. Ms. Higgins has made a career of selling ignorance, hatred and fear, and in a very cowardly way she sicks others on teachers and school administrations who do not fit her very narrow ideas. To be on her disapproval list should be considered an honor.

    Please be assured that many people do not agree with her bigotry, even though you might not hear from them as frequently as the homophobic bumpkins who may be clogging your email. Stand firm for positive principles of equality, fairness, compassion, honesty and rationality.

    Thank you,
    Richard Wade

  • Erin

    To be fair, they also find the idea of heterosexual sex repugnant if it occurs in any manner other than married couple, missionary position, lights off, through a hole in a sheet and only on the days when it is most statistically likely for the woman to get pregnant. Also, it’s unacceptable for the woman to have an orgasm.

    Frankly, they’re just a miserable lot who could learn a thing or two from unwinding enough to have a good mind-blowing fuck for once in their lives. 😉

  • Trace

    Oprah haters!

  • Daniel

    Would they object to a straight panel member mentioning that he is straight, has a opposite-sex partner, or spouse? Somehow I doubt they would, nor would they think that it brought up sex.

    Beyond that, I hate to break it to these IFI folks but lots of straight people have oral sex and anal sex. Among people 25-44, about 9 in 10 people have had oral sex, and 4 in 10 have had anal sex. It’s pretty plain vanilla stuff to most people unless you’ve been indoctrinated to believe otherwise.

  • PJB863

    You’re probably right on that count, Erin, but nothing about sex was actually mentioned here, other than the fact that two of the presenters were gay. I really doubt Higgins would have had a problem if they’d mentioned in some way they were straight.

    Higgins and those of her ilk do not want gay people to publically exist, let alone live happy, fulfilling and open lives. In fact, she’s actually said that she prefers gays were closeted and ashamed. To quote her:

    “My belief that it would be better for society if homosexuality were not publicly affirmed, normalized, or celebrated no more constitutes hatred of homosexuals than does other people’s belief that polyamory should not be publicly affirmed, celebrated, or normalized constitute hatred of polyamorists.”

    See link to the article she authored. It’s quite telling about her. http://illinoisfamily.org/informed/contentview.asp?c=35092. She can’t hide from her own statements.

  • Bones

    I do have a problem with the teacher questioning the kid. It was overstepping bounds.

    With that said.
    What do I think when I hear the word “homosexuality”?
    I think of my cousin that spent a few tours in Iraq serving her country even though she doesn’t receive the same rights that the rest of us take for granted. I think of her with pride. I’m damned proud to call her family.

  • Sinfanti

    It never ceases to amaze/distress me that “Family” is the modern day euphemism for bigotry. Can’t we petition that these organizations submit to some truth-in-advertising legislation somewhere and be forced to correct their names? “Illinois Bigotry Institute” is spot on. And let’s not forget our friends at Focus on the Bigotry.

  • http://atheistdad.wordpress.com Kevin Zimmerman

    So my wife and I were eating dinner with our boys when…

    *screech!* — OMG! I just announced to the a forum likely crawling with adolescents that I have children which set the image of two people having sex churning in their minds!

    Wha? Straight people refer to their heterosexuality a dozen times a day and no one bats an eye. Homophobia is just so stupid!

  • Nakor

    @sinfanti: Yeah, that’s one of the things that pisses me off the most about assholes like that. They have the gall to call their position the “family” one, as though anyone who doesn’t fit their exact definition doesn’t count. They’re bigots whose only goal in life seems to be to keep families they don’t agree with apart. Family friendly my ass.

    I’ve got news for them. They fail. Stopping people from marrying isn’t going to break them up or make them go away, and it sure as hell doesn’t make them any less of a family.

    What do I think when I hear “homosexuality”? I wonder why people still insist on believing it’s so irreconcilably different from heterosexuality that we can’t give it the same rights, freedoms and privileges. Why do people care so much about what other people do to each other in the privacy of their own homes?!

  • http://nathandst.blogspot.com Nathan DST aka LucienBlack

    I remember telling a coworker once (after she told me she thought a gay colleague was “disgusting”) that if the only aspect of a relationship that she saw when she looked at two people was the sexual one…then SHE was the pervert, not them.

    I truly cannot believe I didn’t think of that point before! That’s great!

    Why do people only think of sex when they see a relationship between two people? When you see a little old man and woman walking hand in hand do you automatically imagine them naked?

    For the next few days I will, thank you very much.

    What do I think of when I hear homosexuality? If male, I’m sad they aren’t bi, which means the wife and I can’t share. That’s also what I think when I hear straight. If a lesbian, I’m sad they aren’t bi as I now have no chance (and my wife is straight, so doesn’t care).

    Yes, I am probably a pervert.

  • Chris aka "Happy Cat"

    As a gay man, when I here homosexuality I think it’s likely I’m talking to a bigot or a Fundy (or both) because they didn’t say “gay”. If “homosexuality” is used in clinical terms, fine, but in day to day usage it just refocuses people’s minds on the word “sexual”. I guess that’s why Fundies use it.

    Dear Xtians, keep your minds of my naughty bits. If you must think of them and you’re cute, admit you’re intrigued and just ask to see them. I’m not shy.

    Hemant, be careful about criticizing the Big O. If you think IFI is bad, wait until Oprah’s minions descend like locusts.

  • Chris aka “Happy Cat”

    As a gay man, when I here hear homosexuality…

    Ugh.

  • Jeanette

    I don’t know, I’m kind of hesitant to argue with a therapist that appeared on Oprah. Sounds like a good scientific source to me.

  • AxeGrrl

    Jen wrote:

    I remember telling a coworker once (after she told me she thought a gay colleague was “disgusting”) that if the only aspect of a relationship that she saw when she looked at two people was the sexual one…then SHE was the pervert, not them.

    Beautiful!

    You nailed it Jen……exactly :)

  • http://pinkydead.com David McNerney

    For them, it’s strictly about sex.

    I think it’s actually about control. Or at least that’s an explanation that makes sense.

    And what better way to control people – get into their sexuality, because it’s fundamental to our existence. Ironic actually, without sex, there’d probably far less religion.

  • Charles Black

    Any group that supposedly promotes “family values” are to be assumed to be a bunch of bigots without questions.
    Anyone with half a brain should realise they want gays to be killed as part of Old Testament law. Their own “Holy Bible” exposes their homicidal agenda for LGBTI people.

    Now any questions?

  • Claudia

    @Richard, an excellent idea. I’ve sent my email supporting the program.

    I find the anti-gay bigot obsession with gay sex unsettling, to be honest. Peter LaBarbera (or Porno Pete) from “Americans for Truth about Homosexuality” (note: “truth” in this case means lies) is famous for going “undercover” at hardcore gay S&M events, leather parties, kink conventions etc. Over and over again. I don’t know when Pete will be outed, but when he is, it seems clear it’s going to be veeeery freaky. It’s almost as if they can’t stop thinking about gay sex for some reason…

  • http://hoverFrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    IFI cannot believe they would say such a thing without giving parents proper notification ahead of time.

    Shocking. I hope that parents are notified ahead of time of all speakers sexual orientation and preference. For example if Higgins were to be into a bit of BDSM then teachers, parents and pupils should be made aware of the fact in advance. I’m not suggesting that this is the case you understand. I’m merely using it as an example.

    So two gay guys talk about how they were bullied and/or did drugs and why the students shouldn’t do those things… and Higgins acts like they were teaching the kids the best sexual positions

    At least they can report that the bullying stops once they leave school. Oh wait, my mistake.

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Kev Quondam, Kevque Futurum

    Better let my mother and father know I was abused as a child – no wait, neither of them did anything remotely like that to me when I was young, I was always treated fairly and kindly and disciplined well and turned into a decent and trustworthy member of society. Yet I’m still bisexual and I’m still transgender. Huh… well, I’m sure they have citations to back up their assumptions – right?

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Government employees have no right to expect or implicitly suggest that children not find the idea of two men having sex repugnant.

    Heh, really Higgie? Remember that – a guest speaker mentioning something in passing at school is apparently exactly the same as a government official endorsing it and teaching children to like it. IFI can’t logic today… it has the dumb.

  • Ibis

    About the psychologist who appeared on Oprah:

    This is from memory and it might not be the episode referred to by the fine people at the Illinois Patriarchy Institute, but from what I recall the show was focused on male survivors of childhood sexual molestation, some of whom reported confusion about their orientation as children and young adults (e.g. did I get picked because the male molester “knew” I was gay? am I gay because I was able to feel physical pleasure from what another male did to me?). Most of them, however, seemed to have figured it out by the time of their appearance on the show. The confusion that victims (gay and straight) experienced was discussed as one of many negative consequences of the molestation. There was, of course, no suggestion whatsoever that the molestation caused straight people to “turn gay”.

  • Mike Littel

    Well, I was never molested or abused in any way.  I had WONDERFUL parents. I am pretty darn masculine as well.  I can also remember feeling different and attracted to guys when I was 6 or 7. Also… I was raised in a large SBC church in the south, went on to become a pastor and church planter and got married.  I did all this because I couldn’t bear to accept who I was because my church, my town…everyone…branded it as ugly and shameful.  I became incredible depressed and watched everyone around me suffer.

    I finally came out about 6 months ago… and while it hasn’t been easy, it is the best decision I have ever made.

  • Tim

    That’s what you get when you’re so sexually oppressed…everything becomes about sex. I wonder if Higgins realizes that a massive majority of straight couples commit “sodomy” too (oral sex, and to a lesser degree, anal sex as well). She probably doesn’t; to them, sex is a nasty necessity to having kids, and they just look the other way as long as a good subservient (married!) Christian woman gets knocked up in the process.

    “…they brought the image of two men having sex to the churning minds of a roomful of adolescents.”

    And I wonder if she knows that the minds of a roomful of adolescents are already churning with sex anyway, as much as Christian parents try to deny and suppress it. I’m surprised they don’t give their kids pills to stop “the stirrings,” like in The Giver.

  • Bob

    So when are they going to start banning dictionaries in public school?

  • Survivorsjg

    The problem is that they even had to mention that they were “Gay”. If they weren’t trying to send some sort of message why even bring it up? Remember  “But again, the topic of discussion wasn’t about being a gay person.” So why was it mentioned? When heterosexuals make speeches at school about bullying drugs and negative choices in life I have NEVER heard one say.. Im straight and I have always known I was. Lets be real people, homosexuality has everything to do with SEX. Hence the name homoSEXUAL. One who has sex with the same or like gender. So two male homoSEXUALS announcing that their gay to a bunch of immature students whom are very concerned about sex and sexuality at this point in their life, will of course bring up thoughts, and perhaps images of two male homoSEXUALS having sex. This whole commentary was illogical and emotional. And yes Im a Christian. Homosexuality is wrong, and Im not scared to say it.  Im trying to tell you now so you can turn away from this sin before God judges you later. Just as he will judge heteroSexuals~ who have sex outside of marriage. Adulterers~ who have sex while married to a person they are not married to. Child molesters~ who have sex or commit sexual acts with children, Rapists~ who force people into sex, those who commit bestiality and have sex with animals, Necrophiliacs~ those who have sex with dead people, etc.  Stop thinking your special gay people, your just the average sinner in need of a Saviour just like everyone else. *So many are going to hell because of sex, Accept Jesus people Please!!!! and control yourself*

  • Mike Littel

    Don’t forget that Jesus took adultery to a new level… if you even look on a woman and lust you have committed adultery.  Well, I guess heaven’s population will be comprised of only females then.  

    It is amazing to me that people like you that think they have such a clear understanding of how to repress sex are so good at screwing people over with their words.

  • Survivorsjg

    *while having sex with a person they are not married to*