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Parlin, Brandeis students lead South discussion on overcoming homophobia

Posted By Denebola On February 15, 2011 @ 7:25 am In 50th Edition,News | Comments Disabled

Volume 32
December 23, 1992

“I almost cried when I heard their stories,” one freshman said. “It must be really scary thinking that there is something wrong with you, being different than everyone else.”
Such were the responses to a South presentation by an organization of Brandeis students, TRISCALION, a gay, lesbian, and bisexual group. They discussed their denial and fear upon realizing they were gay, and their college experiences. Although they usually only visit college campuses, the group agreed to visit Newton South, realizing the importance of educating people of all ages about gay issues.
“I was nervous about coming to a high school because I remembered my own high school and my negative experiences with the students. In high school, there’s a sense of insecurity about homosexuality and its generally hard to address the subject and lead an intelligent discussion,” one of the Brandeis students said.
After the group, history teacher Robert Parlin led an assembly in which he discussed the issue of homophobia. He stressed that homophobia really isn’t the right word because it implies an innate fear. People are not born homophobic, he stressed, like one can be born afraid of heights. Rather, homophobia is taught, it is an acquired hatred.
Parlin also dressed the question of whether homosexuality is a “choice.”
“Who would choose to be gay? Who would choose to lead the life of a minority, the life of discrimination, abuse, and oppression?” Parlin questioned.
He talked about his own personal experiences. Growing up, he thought that all gay people had weak wrists, lisps, and wore dresses. That was how they were portrayed on television.
Parlin also shared that as a student, he thought God was testing him, that if he ignored his feelings he would be saved.
He told of how he joined the football team, went out with girls, and became Class President, trying to distance himself from his true feelings and to fit in.
“When I left high school, I was a shell of a person. I didn’t know who I was, I was just everyone else’s image of what I should have been,” Parlin said.
“Now I have come to recognize who I am and I am proud of what I have found. I haven’t just come to grips with my life, I love it.”
When a student asked if he could have chosen to be a homosexual would he have, he replied, “Obviously when I was a kid I would have chosen to be just like everyone else; I don’t see why anyone would want to have to deal with the problems. But now that I have accepted my life I wouldn’t change. We as a society need to value differences; people should be proud of the ways in which they are unique.”
“The discussion was very personal and I think that having Mr. Parlin speak to us, as someone who we know and see everyday, was much more effective than any statis or other description of homosexualiy could be,” senior Sophie Lefkowitz said.
Only seven states have gay rights bills which grant homosexuals protection by law. Massachusetsts has only had a Gay Rights Bill for seventeen years.

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URL to article: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/02/15/parlin-brandeis-students-lead-south-discussion-on-overcoming-homophobia/

URLs in this post:

[1] South repudiates homophobia: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/03/25/south-repudiates-homophobia/

[2] Extended Advisory addresses tolerance: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/03/25/extended-advisory-addresses-tolerance/

[3] T’BGLAD raises awareness at South: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/12/17/t%e2%80%99bglad-raises-awareness-at-south/

[4] “Don’t ask don’t tell”: Reflecting on civil rights: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/12/06/dont-ask-dont-tell-reflecting-on-civil-rights/

[5] Parlin named interim History head: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/parlin-named-interim-history-head/

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