Homosexuality not learned or unlearned, it simply is

Register
Jan 22, 2014
Following Sandusky news from 2,000 miles away has its benefits. I can keep up with local news, turn off the computer when I’ve had my fill of snowstorms, and be grateful I relocated to Arizona.

One storm I have not been able to turn off, however, at least in my mind, is the one surrounding the resignation/firing of St. Mary Central Catholic High School band and choir director Brian Panetta.

I have read the stories and opinions regarding the legality, morality and outrage surrounding the issue. But, in sifting through the bluster of emotion and opinion, I realized something important was missing throughout this discussion: The impact on students, especially an often overlooked group of young people who hide their homosexuality or who silently struggle to make sense of their sexual orientation.

An ongoing debate in any community is whether or not homosexuality is a choice. If one asks gays or lesbians when they “became gay” most will explain they knew from an early age they felt different from others even before they understood why. That “feeling” was not a choice; it was as much a part of them in childhood as it is now. Only when they learned the terminology and heard about what is “normal” and “not normal” did they discover they failed to fit into the described norm, heterosexuality.

I understand the issue is not necessarily that Mr. Panetta is gay. The issue is that by announcing his plans to marry and, thus, become physically intimate with another man, he violated the terms of his employment agreement. This violation led to his resignation/firing, and it’s obvious the community feels the impact.

This is when I noticed that missing from this discussion was the potential impact this situation has had on those silently struggling students. As I thought about them, my attention drifted back to my own experiences.

In school, gay classmates were harassed and shunned. I saw their pain and tried to ignore the fact that I could relate so well to them. I feared someone might see what I was trying to suppress even from myself, and I hid behind schoolwork and tennis.

It wasn’t necessarily because I enjoyed those activities; they kept me safe. The more desperately I tried to change the “different” feeling I had known since childhood, the more I grew to detest myself. I fell into a long-lasting depression almost hoping that my selfhatred would destroy me.

My high school guidance counselor accepted me unconditionally, however, and that connection saved my life. She was not gay, but I saw kindness and traits that inspired me to keep going. Without her presence, I might have given up.

Life experience has taught me that homosexuality is not banished by fervent prayer. It is not something that can be turned on or off. It is not learned or unlearned. It simply is.

Reaching that understanding takes time and support.

I do not know Mr. Panetta but, from what I understand, he did an outstanding job and inspired excellence. He used his God-given talent to help students tap into their own gifts. And, yes, he violated his employment agreement in the interest of being true to himself. Whether or not you agree with how he chooses to live his life, it is his life.

When this story fades, SMCC will still have its employment policies and Mr. Panetta will have moved on. However, the young people silently struggling with their sexual orientation and their fears of the consequences of not fitting the norm will remain.

This is the most salient facet of the SMCC/ Panetta storm. I noticed that concern for them was absent from the inches of opinion published these last few weeks. Not because I was looking for it, but because I sensed the void.

I believe we must do what we can to reach these young people, support them, accept them, and help them to reach their potential as they walk their personal path. Each one is important and each one belongs to us. The storms of life will come and go, and all of us deserve to feel accepted both internally and among others.

Tiffany Gray, M.S., ACSM-CPT, is an adjunct faculty member in the Exercise Science department at Mesa Community College, Mesa, Arizona, where she teaches introductory courses in wellness. She also›owns and operates Gray Wellness Consulting LLC, and serves as the exercise specialist for the Family Wellness Program at St. Vincent de Paul, Phoenix. Gray formerly worked for The Sandusky Register as a news clerk

Comments

Dcfred20036

I put this in the "Go away, gay" thread. But I think is an appropriate comment in this one, too:

Leviticus is often quoted as the place in the bible where homosexuality is an abomination, a sin. But he also goes on to say "And the man that commits adultery with another man's wife, even he that commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death."--King James version. Pardon my indiscretion, but if we applied Leviticus literally across the board how many people would be left in Sandusky?

Nemesis

You would have a point if you could point to ANYONE here who has advocated killing people for homosexual activities.

thinkagain

.

thinkagain

mimi's word
Mon, 01/27/2014 - 4:38pm
“I just do not find the need to be nasty to you because your opinion differs from mine.”

Lying hypocrite!

ladydye_5

So is it just ONE of these factors? or a combination of these factors? or a couple of them? There would be ALOT of kids from single parent families that would turn out GAY! How many children from a single parent home with a DOMINATE mother, an ABSENT father, that do NOT go to church, OMG ...this is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen! Heck by this my own husband could be labeled "gay".

John Harville

TWO PARENTS in a 50-year marriage bear/rear eight children.. Male, Male, Male, Female, Male, Female, Male, Female. The Oldest male and youngest male - 16 years apart with five siblings separating them - are gay. The oldest is out of the home before the youngest is old enough to be influenced. The father DEFINITELY is the dominant parent.
How does that fit the 'causal' factors in his example?
Sorry, posted in the wrong place.

coasterfan

Thinkagain: Your list of "reasons someone is gay" reads like an old textbook from the 1970's, and is basically a template for MISunderstanding and Ignorance (with a capital I)

Let's give you a test: How old were you when you decided to become heterosexual? What's that? You say that you didn't decide, you just always 'knew'? Guess what? It's the same for gays.

I know probably a dozen gay people, and to my knowledge, all realized early in childhood that they were gay. So your last statement is 180 degrees wrong: Homosexuality is NOT an act - it's not something that someone "does". It is something that someone IS.

Finally, homosexuality is not a sin. Bearing false witness against your fellow man, as you are doing, IS a sin. In fact, it made the list of 10 commandments, if I'm not mistaken. What's worse for you, is that your sin is one of choice.

You should probably change your screen name. We're all waiting for you to think 'for the first time'...

John Harville

Wow. Self-portrait? 'Casual factors'? I think you meant 'Causal Factors' cuz that's how the American Psychiatric Association titled this list before 1973 when they removed homosexuality as a disease or mental illness.
Again? Is this self-analysis?

Oh one more thing. Do these 'factors' apply also to lesbians?

John Harville

TWO PARENTS in a 50-year marriage bear/rear eight children.. Male, Male, Male, Female, Male, Female, Male, Female. The Oldest male and youngest male - 16 years apart with five siblings separating them - are gay. The oldest is out of the home before the youngest is old enough to be influenced. The father DEFINITELY is the dominant parent.
How does that fit the 'causal' factors in his example?

grumpy

Re: "Let's give you a test: How old were you when you decided to become heterosexual? What's that? You say that you didn't decide, you just always 'knew'? Guess what? It's the same for gays."

Unfortunately, if you use that example you run into the problem that pedophiles make the same claim, they were born that way. It is rather hard not to be bigoted towards pedophiles... many felt the same about gays 60 years ago, and pedophiles, back then weren't even mentioned.

I don't like pedophiles and have no problem with gays, but I think the example of "they were born that way" opens too many doors of possibility. I don't think anyone wants to use that as an example if they consider all the things it opens them up to. It is not that simple.

SamAdams

You make a valid point. The salient difference, though, is that a pedophile takes advantage of a child, someone who is too emotionally immature to make a remotely consensual choice to participate.

There are those who also enjoy pain. But the vast majority don't torture and kill others for their pleasure. They engage instead in tamer and mutually consensual pursuits. If pedophiles could control their urges sufficiently to ask their wives, girlfriends, or boyfriends to dress up like schoolkids, none of us would bat an eye if we found out. After all, many counselors recommend a little role playing and fantasy to spice up a relationship! But what NO one recommends, and NONE of us condone, is harming others whether that harm be physical, emotional, or both. And with kids, that harm is quite literally unavoidable.

grumpy

Yes Sam. That is why I made my point that it is NOT that simple as saying that is how they were born. Near as what I can tell most people treating/studying pedophiles think they are born that way, or it is learned behavior form them being molested at a young age. What the percentage of each, and how they came up with that I would have to study on and I don't wish to study such a thing. I will leave that to someone much more "enlightened" than I.

Your point about taking advantage of a young person is good... except the age of consent has come down over the last 50-60 years. What will it be in another 60 years? Again not something I wish to contemplate on much. Not something I wish to study, I can see what the trends are though, and don't like what I see.

Informed

The age of consent has not come down over the past 50 years. Years ago, teenagers could get married. Now they cannot without a parent's consent, and not even then in some states unless they are 18 or older.

John Harville

The age of consent in Ohio - according to the ORC - is 16 the "Romeo and Juliet Exception" which keeps underage participants from being indicted for felonious crime. 31 states set the age at 16.
In the Pedophile Priests case, some of the 'victims' were 16-18 and therefore could be considered 'consensual' participants - which also made them not inclusive under the RICO suit.
Come and get me, BABO.

DickTracey

John, Babo has not been back to this story, since I identified her on Weds at 5:52pm

I'm surprised you didn't pick up on it, when you read it.

Babo

I'm still here. Learned a while back not to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person.

John Harville

DICK.. so BABO is female?
Comes across very masculine.

Babo

Dick is wrong.

Nemesis

Actually, the age of consent is 13, but sex with someone under 15 is statutory rape if there is more than 3 years age difference between the parties.

John Harville

NEMESIS:
"The legal age to consent to sex in Ohio is sixteen (Ohio Revised Code § 2907.04). Even if a teen and older individual claim they are both willing participants in the relationship or sexual encounter, in some situations it is still considered rape under the law."
Statutory rape for age 13 is by anyone older than 17 OR in a position of authority or if force is used.
You really should check the law before you post... or at least add citations.

Nemesis

The real point, Sam and Grumpy, is that whether the desire to engage in a given class of conduct is inborn or not isn't a valid criteria for deciding if the conduct is moral.

SamAdams

True. The problem? "Morality" tends to be a relative term, the specifics of which for a given man or woman ISN'T genetic. Some people think playing cards is evil. Some people think women showing their hair is wrong. Some people think divorce is a sin. Some people think modern technology is immoral.

Me? I think if you think it's immoral, you shouldn't do it. Outside of that, as long as you're not hurting somebody else, your "morality" and what determines what you believe to be moral or immoral is not my problem and not my business. But then, I tend to have a little respect for the rights of others whether I agree with them or not.

thinkagain

Spoken like a true moral relativist! And that is the difference between you, who could care less about your fellow man’s salvation and myself, who cares a great deal.

SamAdams

I'm not the relativist. I submit that YOU are! You do, after all, believe some things to be immoral that other people don't. In other words, you adhere to a specific set of religious "guidelines." Since those don't follow the "guidelines" of OTHER religions, they're clearly not absolutes! Except, of course, within your own framework. Relativity is as relativity does.

thinkagain

You are not a relativist??? My goodness, you could knock me over with a feather right now.

Regardless of your vague implication that "guidelines" of OTHER religions” don’t agree, your question more appropriately becomes: 'If man is the measure of all things - which man? - which society? - or even, which man made religion?” Given your secular, humanistic philosophy, any discussion on moral absolutes is a meaningless exercise in futility. Fallen man cannot discover truth and goodness without God.

God has set the absolutes of our morality in His word, and it is sin to break those standards. Rather than relying on your misinterpretations of what is expected of a Christian, please review what you read earlier in my class on 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

SamAdams

Again, I ask you: Which version of Christianity? (Forgive the assumption that you're a Christian of some sort; you're quoting from the New Testament, so I'm taking the leap.)

The "sins" outlined in "other" religions by me happen to be espoused, one and all, by various and sundry sects of Christianity. So please tell me again how "God's Word" is absolute, and yet there are different notions of that Word within Christianity itself?

I don't argue that there are or are not absolutes, and here's mine: DON'T HURT OTHER PEOPLE. Here's the take Jesus offered on the same: LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Not so terribly different, are they?

One more time: If you've got an argument for absolutes, let's hear it. Is it the Bible? Oh, please say it is...

thinkagain

And once again I reiterate, please read 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 for a specific example of God’s “guidelines” of moral behavior.

You made a confusingly vague, overgeneralized implication that “guidelines" of OTHER religions differ, as your “proof” that God has no absolutes concerning morality for His children.

Just because interpretations vary on God’s absolute moral truths, doesn’t mean Truth itself is any less true. I agree that there certainly are an abundance of interpretations. Some are clearly worse than others.

SamAdams

Thank you for clearing that up. I believe I understand now:

1. The absolutes are what you interpret them to be, based on

2. Interpretations of God's absolutes that AREN'T worse than others.

I think I rest my case...

thinkagain

Since you prefer to continue to obfuscate and fail to enlarge upon a specific example, I will assign you to the great crowd of those people who refuse to debate, out of fear of having their sinful nature exposed.

Game…Set…Match!

John Harville

THINK FOR ONCE: You brought this up once before and apparently ignored me when I pointed you out in the midst of the 'nine' stands you at No.8 - THE REVILERS. For Paul warned the very nasty Corinthian Church about their tendency to be judgmental and to 'revile' those who disagreed or whom THE REVILERS deemed unworthy.

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