Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Since I spent most of this week defending gays, I thought I might spend some time defending someone who was unfairly targeted for the dreaded "homophobia!" You probably heard all the hoopla over Dr. James Dobson, director of the Christian organization Focus on The Family out of Colorado Springs, Co. Supposedly saying that SpongeBob was gay. The media got it wrong on all accounts. This organization has been around for along time and like a lot of Christian organizations didn't really get involved in the political process until abortion became legal, and since that is a grave moral issue, felt they needed to get involved. Now with gay marriage being on the forefront, they are involved in that as well.

I first became aware of Dr. James Dobson from his secular child rearing books. I swear I would not have made it through parenting without reading his The Strong Willed Child. I recommend it to anyone with a stubborn difficult young child. He has written several more.

Dr. Dobson holds a Ph.D. in Child Development from the University of Southern California. He served for fourteen years as the Associate Clinical Professor of pediatrics at the USC School of Medicine, and for seventeen years on the attending staff of Children's Hospital of Los Angeles in the division of child development and medical genetics.

He is not a preacher. And what has always impressed me is that he does not take one dime from his non-profit organization Focus on The Family that he runs. He lives off the profits from his child rearing books. Although I am Catholic, I have always had a deep respect for him. He has never sounded 'wacky' or like some kind of TV evangelist. He and his wife and 2 kids always lived modestly and he has always practiced his faith in a kind and humble way.

The whole thing began when Dr. Dobson spoke during the inaugural week at a banquet hosted by the Family Research Council. He shared his concern over a video that was about to be distributed to 61,000 public elementary schools across the nation for use on the proposed "We are Family Day." March 11th.

The video featured nearly 100 favorite cartoon characters for kids. Not only SpongeBob, but Barney, the Muppets, Winnie the Pooh, and many others. Dr. Dobson said that nothing in the video was overtly sexual. What concerned Dr. Dobson was the organization sponsoring the video making a variety of explicitly pro-homosexual materials on it's Web site. One of the resources accompanying the video was a booklet which list it's allies as five of the largest pro-homosexual organizations in the nation including GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign. The Web site made available school lesson plans that suggested these questions of elementary age students:

*How are you affected by homophobia?
*How would you be affected by your sexual orientation were it different than it is now?
*How will understanding these definitions change your thinking about compulsory heterosexuality and homophobia?

And then a hand out entitled, "Talking About being Out" there was this:

*Do you know of any people in your school whose sexual orientation differs from yours?
*What are some factors that might encourage or discourage a person about being 'out' as homosexual or bisexual in this class or school?"

This is just a sampling. And remember. These are elementary school kids we are talking about, K-5th grade.

A few days after the controversy erupted We Are Family Foundation's web site deleted the majority of overtly pro-homosexual content. Then the founder of the organization, Nile Rodgers went on the "Today Show" and said that Dr. Dobson had the wrong site and that they had nothing to do with homosexuality. Dr. Dobson claims he has clear documentation of the materials before they were removed. But the media isn't interested in that part of the story, of course. Making Dobson out to look like a fool was their intent.

Dr. Dobson has made it clear by saying " teach children to respect each other and to accept those who are different. We are entirely supportive of that message. I have been teaching it for years." But he sees clearly here an agenda operating here to teach young children about sexual behavior in a certain way which may contradict what their parents are teaching them, or exposing them to sexuality before their parents feel they are ready to learn about it.

Dr. Dobson emphasized in his letter to supporters that "Every individual is entitled to respect and human dignity, including those with whom we disagree strongly. The problem is not with acceptance or kindness, certainly. But kids should not be taught that homosexuality is just another lifestyle or morally equivalent to heterosexuality." And I will add, unless the parents wish to teach that to their children. It is the parent's responsibility to know when and what to teach their children about sexuality, not the teachers. Certainly not in elementary school.

It is truly unfair for Dr. Dobson, a highly respected man, being targeted for being conservative and Christian and speaking his mind. The media tried to paint him as a religious wacko, when it was the "We are a Family Foundation" that was being dishonest by removing material from it's website in order to make Dr. Dobson seem confused on the matter.

I don't think we will be seeing the media correct it's protrayal of Dr. Dobson any time soon. I think they feel their mission was accomplished.