From the Mouths of Babes

referenced from campustours.tamu.edu

referenced from campustours.tamu.edu

Okay, so maybe college students aren’t exactly babies anymore.  Some of them do have legitimate political opinions, formulated through personal research and attention to current events.  But, as I’m about to display, many of them have little to no idea what’s happening in the real world.  I took a poll of students at Texas A&M University, via several large (widely used) groups online.  Each of these groups requires a Texas A&M certified email to be a member, so it ensured that I would be polling only students.  Texas A&M is considered to be a relatively conservative university, with its agriculture roots and heavy military presence attracting many students from small-town Texas.  Naturally, I thought producing a survey regarding opinions and education surrounding same-sex marriage based here would produce some interesting results.  There were lots of conflicting responses.  The first question was “The Supreme Court recently turned down petitions halting same-sex marriage. This means that (at least temporarily), same-sex marriage is legal in at least five more states, paving the way for countless others to legalize same-sex marriage. What are your feelings about this?”  Out of exactly 100 responses, 61% reported favorable responses such as “It’s about time!”  There were 26% who reported negative feelings such as shock, feeling offended, and being unhappy to hear the report.  The other 13% said they had been keeping up with the news and already knew about the development.

The next question was “Do you think that the Supreme Court is indirectly supporting same-sex marriage through this decision?”  Students reported 65% belief that SCOTUS was supporting same-sex marriage, 22% belief this didn’t show support, and 13% confusion/no opinion about the topic.

The next question got a wide range of responses, as it was open ended.  I asked “Do you know how many states currently allow same-sex marriage?” with simply a blank below the question for them to fill in.  I arranged their answers in groupings of ten for ease of reporting.  49% of those surveyed said they didn’t know or didn’t care to guess.  There were 21% of guesses between one and ten states, with the most common guess being five states.  Frankly, I found this to be a bit shocking.  I know that this is a commonly changing number, especially right now, but by 2010 the number was far greater than 10.  There were 11 guesses between 11-20, and 17 guesses between 21 and 30.  All things considered, I wouldn’t say this is very far off of what I expected.

The next two questions had remarkably similar results, though I don’t consider them to be overly related.  The fourth question was “Do you think that the Supreme Court will eventually have to step in for same-sex marriage to be allowed in all 50 states?”  This is something I myself have spent quite a bit of time pondering, so it formed the basis for an interesting set of statistics.  The overwhelming answer was “yes,” with 71% of the vote.  There was a 24% vote for no, and a 5% vote for “I don’t know,” which I suppose is essentially a lack of vote.  The final question, which I wanted as a base to compare to the rest of the questions, was simply “Do you personally believe that same-sex marriage should be legalized?”  I say it’s simple, but for a lot of people I suppose it isn’t.  It got 68% of votes for “yes,” 16% of the votes for “no,” and 16% for “I don’t know.”

Now, why is this information at all significant.  It’s a sample of a sample.  My opinion is that these statistics are a representation of what’s happening next.  Texas A&M is full of college students, learning and creating their own identities that they will still have when they vote in the future.  Texas A&M is also full of people with religious and conservative backgrounds, in an incredibly conservative state.  If even a majority of the students here believe that same-sex marriage is on its way to be legalized (and agree that it should be), that’s worth noticing.

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Ludicrous Lucifer

by Cal Grondahl formerly of the Standard Examiner

by Cal Grondahl formerly of the Standard Examiner

I’m not here to make fun of anyone or their beliefs.  But come on.  Sometimes it’s hard not to.  The most recent example is undoubtedly one of the more interesting lawsuits filed against same-sex marriage.  A man from South Carolina believes that he is “anointed and assigned as a watchman for the souls of that people errantly identifying and calling themselves lesbian and gay” has decided that the issue of same-sex marriage has nothing to do with the law, and everything to do with religion.  While that viewpoint, in itself, obviously isn’t new or innovative, what he follows this idea with certainly is.  He has filed the lawsuit with the claim that allowing same-sex marriage in South Carolina would directly obstruct his ability to worship.  In effect, he has argued that the freedom of religion clause in the first amendment prohibits same-sex marriage.  I can’t say that I see much real legal basis for this argument.  We’ll have to see how it is treated legally, but I’m certainly curious to see how much attention it garners, if anything purely for creativity.

Antithetical Thoughts

referenced from: caglecartoons.com

referenced from: caglecartoons.com

I’ve talked quite a bit about same-sex marriage and its current progression through different states and courts.  However, today I’d like to look at a different standpoint.  This article referenced from hotair.com talks about the struggles happening within the states who have recently begun to (or are preparing to) issue same-sex marriage licenses.  It focuses on the ministers and churches in these states that don’t agree with the state’s decision, and have religious objections to gay marriage.  I can understand this, as someone who grew up in a religious family.  The city/state is threatening legal ramifications to those who refuse to perform ceremonies for same-sex couples.

Although typically very opinionated and up-front, I find I’m stuck in the middle on this issue.  On one hand, forcing a religious leader to act in a way that is contrary to their beliefs seems incredibly questionable, convoluted even.  The Everson vs Board of Education ruling defined the “establishment of religion” clause of the first amendment by stating:

“Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance….In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect “a wall of separation between church and State.”

This is what makes this so questionable to me.

On the other hand, same-sex couples have been awarded the right to marry in the state that this is occurring in (Idaho).  They shouldn’t be discriminated against, as cited in the article.  Idaho has a “non-discrimination” ordinance that provides for these types of situations.  It’s specific to LGBT protections, and this city is one of only 7 cities in Idaho that hold one.  These types of ordinances and provisions are incredibly important to the safety and incorporation of LGBTQ people into everyday society.  It removes some of the fear attached to being open about your sexual orientation.  It also provides for less gray-area in situations like this.

So like I said, I find myself able to see and relate to both sides of this issue.  I see legal backing on both types of opinions.  I don’t know that I have an answer to how this should work out, or how it will.  I do know that it’s one of many confusing things we will have to work through as America continues to change its laws regarding same-sex marriage.

Sex Ed.

june28chancolor

Cartoon by Chan Lowe

I’m going to share a little personal information here.  I grew up and went to public school in Texas.  Most of my sexual education in school was late enough that I vividly remember it, with the first program happening in 5th grade.  We didn’t talk much, but watched a video that I didn’t understand.  I had to ask my mom what was happening later.  She was horrified.  The only thing that was verbally communicated by my teacher was a short script about menstruation, which grossed most of us out.  That was it.

Fast forward to middle school, and our coach was required to dedicate one class to STD/STI information.  We played some sort of game that demonstrated how quickly an STD can spread, and we were warned against having sex.  That was the lesson.  In high school, we took a health class that forced us to view horribly advanced cases of STDs and STIs up close and personal.  Again, this was all we learned about.

The reason I bring all this up, is because I stumbled upon this article recently.  Although it’s a bit old, the information remains mostly the same.  A majority of states don’t require any sexual education classes in schools, and an even smaller amount talk about contraception.  Why are we so afraid to be honest with kids about sex?  Especially once they get to high school, and a good amount of their classmates begin to experiment and begin having sex, they should be well-informed.  I still have to inform fellow college students that their perceptions or beliefs about sex are simply incorrect.  I knew people who got pregnant because they didn’t think they could due to superstitions or just plain wrong information.  I had to teach my previously sexually active boyfriend that he was poorly informed on several different areas once we began dating.

The bottom line, in my opinion, is that teaching abstinence-only programs is the same thing as ignoring contraception altogether.  Sending our children out into the world without properly equipping them to succeed in as many areas as possible is sending our world in the wrong direction.  Teaching children the facts about sex, contraception, STD/STIs, pregnancy, and other related topics isn’t pushing them to have sex.  It’s giving them what they need to make their own, well-informed decisions about sex.  It isn’t their education’s responsibility to sway them on such a personal topic.  Perhaps we can simply leave the opinions to their parents.  Wouldn’t that be novel?

Birth Control: Follow Up

Here we go again.

In an interesting twist of fate, I found this right after posting my recent critique of ACA and birth control relating to the “Burwell vs Hobby Lobby” case.  It’s a bit complicated, but the basics are that Obamacare is supposed to provide for abortions.  However, the money to supply for this is supposed to be collected from customers, and not taxpayers.  Some companies are ignoring this, however, and simply not providing for it (allowing a few exceptions).  My prediction; regardless of how this is handled, there will be backlash and a mess left over.

ACA and Birth Control

4c654b53593be.image

By Phil Hands

I’m sure most people have now heard about Hobby Lobby and their “birth control scandal,” which resulted in the Supreme Court decision allowing their religion to determine what their insurance provided.  I will NEVER advocate for someone being forced to take medication or undergo procedures that interfere with their beliefs.  However, your beliefs should not affect my medical care.  My big issue with this is women who take/use different kinds of birth control for reasons other than extramarital sex (not that I have any issues with that either).  For example, polycystic ovarian syndrome runs in my family.  As a result, I have been on birth control for many years as a management technique.  I have friends who are married (but are not suited for pregnancy, and have dangerous complications in the past), who use birth control simply so they can enjoy the benefits of married life without endangering their own.  There are a million “legitimate” reasons to use birth control, and that should be covered in medical insurance, like any other medication.

To put it frankly, I don’t understand why religion has become such a big part of our government.  What ever happened to separation of church and state?

Little Gender Identities

This is a sticky subject right now.  Being that it is controversial, rarely agreed upon, and a current hot issue, of course I have a hard-set opinion on it.  Lets jump right into it.  Making new rules regarding transgender children and their rights and treatment while at school is causing a lot of headaches and heartache.  There are a variety of viewpoints and LOTS of parenting opinions on transgender children.  Letting your child dress in opposite-sex-role clothing seems harmless to some, seems simply like a phase to others, and offends more than a few.  Let me be the first to acknowledge that not every kid who wants to be a boy or a girl is transgender.  I grew up with two brothers, and genuinely thought I was just another boy at times.  There is nothing wrong with a kid who wants to try out another identity.  They’ll keep doing that for a long time.  I mean, how many people went “goth” at some point in high school?  Now, lets also acknowledge that from a very young age some children know for a fact that they’re in the wrong body.  They don’t feel comfortable with themselves or their assigned gender role.  That’s okay too.  The last thing those children need is to be constantly shoved back into a mold that they don’t fit in.  I understand that not everyone shares this opinion, but here’s where it really gets tricky.  Can we not agree that telling a child to change their ingrained personality over and over isn’t damaging?  It would be scary for anyone to change in front of, use the bathroom in front of, or shower in front of people they aren’t comfortable around.  Imagine if you faced harassment every gym class.  That is what’s happening, and that’s what people are starting to see.

9781627091671

By Rikki Marie Dubois (sourced from amazon.com)

Transgender education sites, books, cartoons, and other helpful (and adorable) sources are popping up all over the place as a resource for both parents and caretakers everywhere.  There are people fighting and winning battles to let their child use the bathroom/locker room that they’re comfortable in all over the U.S.  This is a tense issue for some, as they don’t want their child exposed to such a confusing issue so young.  Here’s my opinion though:  This issue is so confusing and complicated because most of us are learning about it as adults.  It’s change for us, and change can be uncomfortable.  However, if you raise your young ones to learn and accept others as they come (no matter WHAT shade of the rainbow that may be), they’ll grow up with that as a normal part of life.  It won’t be hard for them to figure out later in life why that man is wearing lipstick, or why that girl’s hair is so short.  It will just be another person on the street to them.  THAT, my friends, is a powerful thing.