Saturday, October 31, 2009

Teacher suspended for animal sexuality article

A Jacksonville (IL) high school English teacher has been suspended because he "allowed students to read the article 'The Gay Animal Kingdom' from the June 7, 2006, edition of Seed magazine." Teacher Dan DeLong has been suspended pending a school board meeting on Monday. The story was written by one of my favorite science writers Jonah Lehrer and presents the research of Joan Roughgarden, a Stanford biologist who challenges Darwin's perception that homosexuality is a maladaptive behavior given that hundreds of animals species show same-sex behavior.

Clearly the whole story has not emerged and there are some differences with psych teachers -- DeLong is an English teacher, for example -- but I personally find this action chilling. This research has long been part of the psychology curriculum and in our textbooks, so I wonder if the opposition to this article has to do with the nature of the article itself or the somewhat graphic language Lehrer uses in some parts of the article -- language that's perfectly acceptable in an piece written for adults but perhaps a little much for a high school audience. Still, I doubt this is over a few words.

Supporters of DeLong have created a Facebook group and the story is already making the rounds of the blogosphere including on Twitter and on Andrew Sullivan's blog The Daily Dish. I'll keep an eye out for an update and post here again with more news.


Michelle Stanley said...

Shame for the teacher but don't really think that this artice was in ths school curriculum and therefore not sure it was essential he showed these pupils it.

Tracy said...

I shared the following article with my students:

The students were asking a great deal of questions regarding homosexuality in people vs. evolution, and I thought this would be an interesting topic to explore - to serve as critical thinking application. I personally don't see anything wrong with a thought-provoking article. Isn't that the point of teaching - to get our students thinking analytically?