Jun 27, 2005

"Marginalizing and minimizing the significance of these people's lives" [LINK]

From a letter to the Boston Globe concerning gay-themed curricula in local secondary schools:

Regarding the debate about discussing gay and lesbian relationships in public school classrooms, John Fountain (letter, June 24) wants to see himself as an open, accepting person. He says ''gay-oriented folks have a right to tolerance, full acceptance, and respect from the other 96 percent of the population." However, he falls short of his own words when he goes on to talk about a ''slippery slope" and urges teachers ''not to endorse or promote the ''just as good' perspective."

To clarify, there is no reliable estimate of the number of gay and lesbian Americans. The 4 percent figure is often cited, but it is limited; it is based mainly on a handful of polls/surveys taken around a few government elections, or upon Kinsey's work on human sexuality in the late 1940s. The US Census began tracking same-sex partners only in 2000, and does not include data on the number of single gay and lesbian Americans.

A more statistically sound estimate would be the US Census finding that same-sex unmarried partners were represented in 99.3 percent of all counties in the United States. Hence, marginalizing and minimizing the significance of these people's lives is anything but tolerant, accepting, and respectful.

Perhaps the Census does have a "more statistically sound estimate" identifying unmarried same-sex partners in 99.3 percent of all U.S. counties. Still, that statistic doesn't tell us anything different. There could easily be a 4 percent rate of homosexuality that manifests itself everywhere to some degree. The only difference between the two statistics is that 99 percent sounds more impressive.

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