Opinion: Local Columnist's Attack on SB48, Gays Deserves a Response

Demographics predict that Dixon has a sizable gay and lesbian population

A local about-town-kind-of-guy recently penned a column in another media outlet which was essentially a tirade about gays, lesbians, bisexuals and the transgendered being portrayed in a positive light.

I think he did this because as an about-town-kind-of-guy, he’s come to assume that Dixon is one large reservoir of anti-gay sentiment that he can tap into.

I think he’s mistaken. Dixon may be small, but I don’t think the majority of its citizens think small.

In particular, he () zeroed in on a law due to take effect at the end of the year (California Senate Bill 48, or SB48). Reading his description of the law, one would think that teachers would be required to encourage students to become homosexuals.

Past California law required that the study of California history include the roles and accomplishments of most minorities and ethnic and cultural groups. SB48 simply ensures that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and the transgendered are included among those minority groups.

SB48 also specifies that instruction and teaching materials shall not disparage or express a negative bias in connection with race or ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, nationality or sexual orientation.

For example, it would have prohibited a former math teacher and football coach of mine from saying, as he did in the 1950s, that African American males have a different body odor than white people.   

So, SB48 isn’t involved per se with sex education as taught as a classroom subject, rather with the inclusion and portrayal of minorities in the study of California and American history. I don’t see much that’s controversial here, actually.

However, Mr. Hickman takes the tricky leap to deduce that under SB48, children will “… be exposed to a perverted minority life style.”

Back when I was growing up in the 1950s, there was virtually no public information about homosexuality. My parents never talked to me about sex. I once read a Reader’s Digest article about prisons, where the unfamiliar word “homosexual” was used.

I tried to find it in the family dictionary, but it wasn’t listed! Yes, in those days sometimes we had to really dig to learn about sex. Today, if young people haven’t heard about the various forms of sexuality in sex ed and from their parents and friends, they’ll certainly find it online. 

Mr. Hickman also goes beyond SB48 to speak of gays and lesbians etc. as abnormal and perverted. I guess he puts himself in that great category of “normal,” which I guess means that all “normal” people have sex following the same standard manual of Normal and Approved Sexual Practices, which of course doesn’t allow for any experimentation to liven up the experience.

Please, sex is one of life’s peak experiences!

Essentially, Hickman is labeling 520 Dixonites as abnormal and perverted (sounds like the Salem witch trials). I arrive at this figure by using a standard estimate of four percent of a population identifying themselves as gay or lesbian, and a Dixon population of 13,000 over the age of 18 (according to the latest census).

I suppose each and every one of those 520 is ready to say, “Thank you, Mr. Hickman, for thinking so highly of us, your neighbors, your city employees who may put themselves in danger, your civic volunteers, and the people you deal with in your business.”

Mr. Hickman, of course, is free to think whatever he wishes about people who are different than he is. But to mount a soapbox and urge others to join him in a realm of “small thinking” is another thing entirely.

He seeks to stuff behind closet doors those who often traveled a confusing and difficult route in discovering and expressing their sexual identity, an identity that probably wasn’t what they and their parents expected, but was part of their basic makeup since their earliest days.

As part of this, what those young people who will become gay and lesbian need are supportive and understanding families and communities. They need to be able to attend school without being hazed and bullied and teased. As in SB48, they deserve to receive the same praise and recognition for their accomplishments throughout their lifetime as all the other minorities do.

Do I dare say in Dixon that gays and lesbians also ought to be able to marry, hold hands in public, and live the full lives that others enjoy? Yes.  

Carol Johnson November 10, 2011 at 07:44 PM
Thank you for a great article. As the parent of a gay child, who grew up here in Dixon, I can assure you that this isn't a choice and comes with a lot of heartache being accepted. I love my child the same as my other children and wish him the same happiness my 48 years of marriage have given me should he find the right person.
Gary Erwin November 10, 2011 at 08:04 PM
I agree that this is a good article... I grew up in town and the kids that were gay were in the closet. The one kid that was out was driven out of town prior to his freshman year. To this day I regret that as kids we tormented our friends that were gay because we did not know better. This is an educational problem and no better place to fix it than in the schools. I wonder what the writer of the original article would have done if he had fathered a child of ambiguous sex?
Carol Johnson November 10, 2011 at 09:50 PM
I certainly hope none of you folks who feel that way about gays, don't have a child or grandchild who is because you will miss out on a lot when you can't love them or ban them from your life.
Cindy Duncan November 10, 2011 at 10:11 PM
Thank you to Bill Paul for his thoughtful article addressing the often nasty and ignorant homophobic remarks of Ted Hickman in his weekly column in Dixon's Independent Voice. In my experience, there are many, many people in Dixon who not only think but act totally the opposite of Mr. Hickman.
Ada Bee November 10, 2011 at 10:19 PM
Fantastic article. Thank you so much! As a Dixon resident and mom, it makes me feel a little better raising my children in our small town, knowing that there are others who share the same sentiment.
Shirley Fanning Humphrey November 11, 2011 at 02:38 AM
Excellent article. I am glad you wrote this to share with Dixon folks.
Genene Kluck November 11, 2011 at 03:45 PM
Great article....I think it is time for schools to include this information. How many times have we read about young people bullying gays/lesbians in middle school, high school & eventually suicides, loss, & too much human potential driven down. Dixon is an exemplary community in many ways....the author of this article can attest to that!
Dixon Guy November 14, 2011 at 10:03 PM
Great article, it shows not all of us Dixonites are small minded!
Joe DiPaola November 15, 2011 at 04:57 PM
No one should suffer discrimination or harassment based on age, race, color, nationality, religion, disability, gender, and/or sexual orientation. Under California law, sexual orientation is now a protected class; people can not be treated differently here because of their sexual orientation. Whether or not someone agrees with a gay lifestyle, this is not a gay lifestyle issue--it is a civil rights issue. SB 48 is California's effort to ensure civil rights and equal treatment. There is no parental opt-out provision -- such a provision would pose its own set of problems. For example, substituting a different protected class (race) as an illustration, would there also be a parental opt-out provision for parents who don't support teaching about Martin Luther King, Jr., simply because he was not of their race or beliefs? We should respect the views of socially conservative/religious people who are personally opposed to a gay lifestyle. However, we should also respect the rights of gay people to live their lives free of discrimination, harassment, bigotry, bashing, bullying, etc. Fundamentally, that's how all of us put Constitutional principles to work daily: we tolerate differences among us, and we regard each other with equality, dignity, and respect, despite those differences.
Jack November 15, 2011 at 05:59 PM
Dixon Guy November 15, 2011 at 07:00 PM
Well put Joe!


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