Saturday, June 8, 2013
It's the 'Gay Agenda' in Public Schools (And It’s Fabulous)
by Mr. Arturo Avina, kindergarten teacher at Olympic Primary Center in the Los Angeles Unified School District:
Oh. My. God. Conservatives were actually right on this one. The "gay agenda" is infiltrating our public schools! And you know what? It's absolutely fabulous.
My talented kindergarteners at Olympic Primary Center in the Los Angeles Unified School District—who found online success earlier this year with their outstanding film adaptation of the beloved book "Miss Nelson is Missing"—celebrated the end of an eventful school year by performing Cyndi Lauper's classic anthem, "True Colors." In the video above, you can see how as they sing, they use American Sign Language while the audience reflects on the statements "You Are Good" and "You Are Perfect." Combine that with rainbows, messages of love, and a great pop song and you have a touching performance that represents what my students have learned.
The lesson: love yourself, and always show love, kindness, and respect towards others no matter who they are. Regardless of ethnicity, sex, gender, religious creed, or sexual orientation, EVERYONE is worthy of love.
So, why this song? Well, why not? Although children can do no wrong with whatever they sing, I wanted to send them off for the summer with a song I genuinely loved that at the same time had a positive message for them. And I didn't want them to just recite a song, I wanted them to understand it.
After a few weeks of rehearsal and learning lyrics, I asked, "What do you think the song is about?" One student replied, "God doesn't like the world to be black and white, so he made many colors to make it beautiful." Yes! His thinking was on the right track and I was elated to hear that the message was getting through.
In a writing assignment given to them the day after the performance, I posed the same question. Even though I still got some answers that were quite literal. "It is about red. I like red," one student replied. "We sang 'True Colors' because we all deserve love. I love this singin!' " I was grinning from ear to ear. Mission accomplished.
I did not need to push any specific "agenda" or single out any particular group of people when I discussed the meaning of this song with my students—it wasn't necessary. Addressing diversity isn't anything new in my classroom, and if the song's message really made it through to my students and they truly internalized the importance of universal love and respect, then that should automatically translate to inclusivity. If they're taught to love unconditionally, then they should understand that there is not one group of people that is the exception to the rule. As these children go on to first grade (and beyond), what better message is there than that?
In the end, our show is open to interpretation. Most people may see this as a precious performance full of love and sweetness. Others might find it especially poignant at a time when the country is on the brink of marriage equality. Inevitably, there will be some detractors that may find it appalling—we had a few with last year's "Vogue" performance—due to our use of an innocuous rainbow coupled with a radical message of love. So be it. If this is what the "gay agenda" looks like in public schools, let's bring it on. It's breathtakingly beautiful.