Thursday, November 25, 2010

Moral Education

It was a long day today at work.

While I've been navigating the crevasses of graduate work applications, I've also been using my two degrees to make money. As a substitute teacher for the Regina Public School Board.

And there I was today, during homeroom, directing class. And my ears hear something that I haven't heard since I was a student.

"Yeah, he's gay."

It was from the back corner. I can still remember the face of the young woman that made the comment.

I can still recall that instant when I felt as though shutting down was the only response that was valid. These people knew. They were judging me for it. There was nothing I could do about it anymore.

And then I did the worst thing possible.

I let the comment slide. And now, I know that, for anybody that she encounters who is gay, around whom she tosses around the word with a sneer and a knowing gracefulness of cool, that i have contributed to the fear that they feel.

And, on my drive home, I couldn't decide if I should've pounced on her. As a young First Nations (Metis?) woman, god knows I had the ammo - I am incredibly capable of whipping up hatred in an instant.

Why didn't I?

Was it because I don't believe in humiliating students (no, thats definitely not the reason), or was it because I refuse to use race as a trump card (i'd love to pretend so, but the fact that I could whip up hatred for this woman in an instant because of her skin colour tells me otherwise), or was it because I knew that, in the moment that I defended homosexuals from hatred, I was outting myself to these students?

I could've incited foolishness, dumbness, ignorance, She could've retaliated with the same in some way, I couldn't asked her how she feels when she heard commentary about First Nations women being prone to drinking when they were pregnant or men sexually abusing their daughters in a drunken rage, and I could've answered with fear and hatred and remorse and shame at her identity for things that she could not control, and she could've gotten angry and disgraced, and I could've told her that she had no right to inflict those feelings upon anybody else and nobody has the right to inflict those feelings upon her, and She could've agreed, and I could've said that I would expect somebody who has been the victim of cultural hatred in the past to fight against it in all of its manifestations (just to let her know that I was thoroughly disappointed in her character), and She could've gone home and told her parents and the Parents could've contacted my boss and told her about the scenario, and I could lose my position, because God knows that my "teaching practices" were questionable I was thoroughly out of line and it isn't the right of a teacher to treat minority students in any way to calls attention to their minority-ness, and I would not be able to respond because this woman would have the same power as I would have over my temporary student in my class, and once again I am faced with morality in ways that are complicated.

It was probably the last reason.

And so I was silent. And let the tacit hatred of homosexuals survive for another day.