Recognizing that Lisa said this morning that Jane Addams’ sexual preference is an established fact, do you have an obligation to bring it up in class? If so, why? If not, why not? If you do bring it up in class, how will you do it?


20 responses to “Homophobia.

  1. As a first grade teacher, I am fortunate in the fact that I don’t have to touch on that subject. So, for me no I would not bring it up. I feel as though I am not the responsible party to explain that to a seven year old, that is their parents responsibility. Some of you might be rolling your eyes or thinking will what if parents don’t bring it up…GOOD, they are way to young to comprehend sexual preferences! ~Melissa

  2. Why do we care the sexuality of a person? Why can’t we just discuss the significance of a person and the work they are doing? Would it detract from the facts? I think it does not matter, and unless a student mentions a detail regarding a person we are talking about, I don’t think sexual preference has any bearing in class.

  3. crystalcampbell

    At the level I teach there is no way I could discuss this topic with students. Even if I taught a higher grade level I really don’t think I would discuss it because it doesn’t add or distract to Jane Addams as a historical figure.

  4. history591nineteen

    There is NO WAY I would broach this subject with 8th grade students. I’m not even sure I would do it at any level of school K-12. That’s asking for trouble! I do not see how a woman’s sexuality has anything to do with the job Jane Addams did. The tour guide was wrong to bring that up.

  5. This is a divisive issue. Those of us that took Matt’s religion and politics class remember how the people from Focus on the Family believe that teachers are discriminating against heterosexual and some religius people. I do not believe teachers have an obligation to bring up historical figure’s sexual preferences in class, but it does sometimes come up.

  6. I agree that teachers do not have an obligation to discuss the sexual preferences of a historical figure especially because, most often, their historical significance has nothing to do with with their sexual orientation. However, I also believe that it is a topic that is bound to come up at times and that we should all be prepared to address it. Not the issue of sexuality itself, but the issue of its significance in relation to the person being studied and ask our students to question whether it really contributes to the historical importance of the person.

  7. Delphine Grayson

    I have brought it up before because it was part of the lesson that I designed. I knew that my students would bring it up so I used some examples of the book we read on Lincoln. “Did Lincoln Own Slaves”. Sure enough as soon as I started the lesson that involved Lincoln, someone brought it up. Because of the book, I was able to lead my students in a more comfortable disscussion because I liked how it handled the topic. It didn’t avoid it, it stated the facts as known and stated that lifestyles were different back then and not to put present day meanings to events that occurred in the past. We went on to discuss about whether this changed how they felt about Lincoln. Great Lesson!

  8. history591eighteen

    I agree that as teachers we always have to be prepared for such a subject to come up. However, I don’t see how Jane Addams’ sexual preference has anything to do with what she accomplished here in Chicago and at Hull House. Would she be any less well known around the world during that time because of her preference? I don’t think anyone would have cared, like so many people do today. I was a little taken aback by the reference to it in our tour this morning. That is definitely not something I was prepared to hear.

  9. darlenederbigny

    I disagree with Ms. Lee stating that Ms. Addams was definitely gay. Ms. Lee was not there, did not have a conversation with her, and simple does not have difinitive proof; therefore, she should not bring up the subject. My question is why does Ms. Lee think it is important to discuss her sex life. I have no interest in the sex lives of Ms. Lee or Ms. Addams. I find it really objectional when people equate sexual preference with racial civil rights. Ms. Lee was an exceptional presenter except for the gay issue.

  10. How come nobody is talking about the fact the that Frank Lloyd Wright was an obnoxious, arrogant colleague, a guy who cheated on his wife, and was LOUSY father to his kids? And he gets a pass so we can talk about the alleged private life of somebody who selflessly cared for others and left a legacy we ought to strive for? I mean, what’s going on here?
    And, no, there’s no need to bring any of this up.

  11. I’m positive that none of my students would know who Jane Addams is or what she did. I would be guiding and teaching them about the her work and accomplishments. If, on the off chance, a student would catch a fire and be motivated to research her and the topic of lesbianism came up, I would address it. Otherwise, there is no need to start off, “Here’s a great lady who is a lesbian…..” It does not detract from the wonderful movement that she helped create and the good she provided the immigrants of Chicago. And there is no concrete proof and if there was, SO WHAT?!

  12. crystalcampbell

    I agree with you that we glossed over the facts about Wright but when we get to a strong and independant woman we have a battle over her sexuality as if it will make a difference in the things she did for the immigrants! I was very dissapointed in Ms. Lee for the amount of time she stayed on that subject during the tour.

  13. history591seventeen

    I would not discuss Jane Addams’ sexual orientation in my class. I also think it was very irresponsible on Ms. Lee’s part to make the assumption that Jane Addams was gay. I have done some research on her and I do not believe it is documented. Ms. Lee has taken the liberty of labeling Jane Addams by today’s standards

  14. Jonathan Rees

    Suppose you are a gay teenager. Don’t you think you would be thrilled to learn that there are important figures in history who were gay too?

  15. John Hutchins

    It depends on the age and required scope of the class. Of course nobody should bring this subject up if they are teaching the lower levels. In middle school, I believe that we can discuss it if a student brings it up. But I would minimize the amount & depth of the conversation. You probably could talk more of the subject in high school. And I 100% know that it should be taught in college level classes.

  16. history591seven

    I thought it was irresponsible for Ms. Lee to discuss this subject in such length, since her evidence was not from Jane Addams herself, but her interpretation of Jane Addams letters. Since Jane Addams didn’t feel it was important to openly discuss her sex life, why do we? Her work is what I thought the focus should, be on. Ms. Lee’s comments distract visitors from Jane Addams work, and I think she may be hoping for money to support Hull house from the gay and lesbian community. There definitely seemed to be a agenda here.

  17. Howard Mestas

    This may not be an issue for most people, but if you are gay, maybe it is. Just like Obama’s election was the pinnacle of Afro American happiness in their history, and JF Kennedy’s election was the same for Irish Americans. She was gay, so what; she was also great, just like Michelangelo, and Alexander the Great. If someone who is gay does something unpopular, the gayness is always brought up; so why not when something does something awesome like Jane Addams.

  18. I too believe that Ms. Lee was presumptuous in discussing, at length, the sexual preference of Jane Addams. First, there’s little if any historical documentation to support her allegation. Second, by focusing on that aspect of her life, straight or not, it diminishes the truly amazing impact she had on social reform. I would not include comments on her sexuality, any more that I would include them in a discussion of a male historical character. If a student asked, we would of course discuss how historians view it. Frankly, with everything else there is to talk about, I can’t afford to use precious class time on a subject that is ambiguous. Might it be meaningful for gay students to see her success as a gay woman? Sure, but I would like them to realize the fact that her success came in spite of being a woman, much less a lesbian.

  19. Jonathan Rees

    Actually Paula,

    Had you listened to her closely you would have heard Lisa say that she’s ending the three-labels for the painting experiment because the documentation of Smith and Addams’ relationship isn’t ambiguous at all.

  20. Thanks for the correction.

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