I’ve been quieter about Freiya’s Stand than one might expect from an author about to release a new book, and a recent event has made me understand why.
For some, institutionalized discrimination is an academic issue. There are pros and cons, sides to consider, and an appearance of “neutrality” or “objectivity” to maintain.
There are others for whom discrimination is an everyday lived experience.
Yet in our society, it’s those who claim to “see both sides” who receive the most legitimacy for their beliefs.
What is this claim to “not take sides?”
Today, do we praise those from the civil rights era who pondered the good and bad of allowing “coloreds” into spaces previously decreed off-limits?
Do we expect reasonably intelligent citizens of our society to carefully consider the merits and counter-arguments whether male humans should rape female humans? Whether attractive mug shots and swim times should outweigh the violence of one person against another?
Or do we expect morally upstanding citizens to gasp in horror and fight for human rights for all?
I’ve held Freiya’s Stand close to my heart for going on three years now because the story is less academic and more personal. My dad served in the educational field, you see. He lived and breathed the principles of free public education for every child, no matter what that child’s circumstances might be. I tagged along as he asked me to help him choose a baseball cap for a child newly diagnosed with cancer, shoes for another whose parents couldn’t afford them, and food for those who came to school hungry.
My dad would have given his life to make a child’s life better.
He was of the generation for whom work was not “just a job” but a career, vocation, and an identity. Even after retirement, he served in various educational capacities until the year before he died.
He was not gay, but what if he had been?
What if his life’s work had been taken away from him, solely because his sexuality did not align with that decreed acceptable for educators?
As long as acts occur among consenting adults, why does one’s genital activity determine one’s right to teach?
If my father, may he rest in peace, had lost his job because of his sexuality, the world would have been poorer because of it. The generations of children who passed through his classrooms and schools would have been deprived of a truly great man.
(I can brag about him. Daughter’s privilege. 🙂 )
Freiya’s Stand is not about my dad, but it’s about the travesty of educational gatekeeping. Oh, sure. I’ve heard the arguments. Children are young, impressionable, and innocent. They might “catch” homosexuality from adults they admire, they might think it’s “cool” or try to imitate being homosexual. I’ve listened to fear mongering from adults who want to ban LGBT folks from any contact with children. I watched a gay couple refuse any unchaperoned activity with children because their church community might accuse them of inappropriate conduct with minors.
I don’t know if Freiya’s Stand was able to capture everything I’d wanted, but I hope the story will make you think about what’s really best for our children.
Do we want our children educated by the very best candidates available?
Or do we eliminate gifted teachers based on an aspect of their identity outside of their control?
When should love take a stand?
Freiya’s life is perfect. She’s got doting parents, a classroom of adorable kindergarteners, and the love of her life. Even if Sabrina insists on discretion in their private Catholic school, they share happiness in private.
That is, until the bombshell hits. Their principal demands a “Fight for Families” covenant to refrain from “sexual perversion.” All teachers must sign. No exceptions.
Sign, Sabrina says. Otherwise, they’ll lose their job, privacy, and home.
Freiya doesn’t want to betray the woman she loves, but how can she sign a document that denounces their love? Is standing up for love worth losing her livelihood?
If she speaks the truth, she’ll lose everything.
If she lies, she’ll lose even more.
How can Freiya take a stand for what’s right when the choices are wrong?
How can it be wrong to love the woman who makes her life worth living?
The truth should set them free, but Freiya’s stand threatens to destroy the very love she refuses to deny.
When “religious freedom” legislates against identity, how can Freiya and Sabrina survive?