Sixth Grade Thoughts on Sexuality

By Kellen Woodcock '21, Thea Traw '21, Isabel Vestergaard '21, Mick Leungpathomaram '21, Michael Putz '21, Eve Cody '21, Bram Nutt '21, and Divine Niyungeko '21

Editors’ Note: CatlinSpeak got the chance to work with Ann Fyfield and Carter Latendresse’s sixth grade classes on articles and videos about gender and sexuality. The following articles were written by sixth grade students who did their own research. The below articles were also published in the CatlinSpeak spring 2015 print edition. To view the rest of the articles, click here and here.

Indiana’s Law: Religious Freedom or Discrimination?

By Kellen Woodcock ’21 and Thea Traw ’21

Governor Mike Pence signed Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) on March 26, a law that has quickly cascaded into an uproar, leading to a rewriting in just six days. Gay activists and many in the general public viewed the original bill as giving permission to businesses to discriminate against LGBT people.  Therefore, the NCAA, the NFL, Wal-Mart Corporation, and Apple Incorporation all opposed the law, and some even threatened boycotting Indiana. Governor Pence, on the other hand, has said, “This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination, I would have vetoed it.”

A case of using the religious freedom law would be this:  Person A (male) and Person B (male) want to get married, and they want a wedding cake from Person C’s cake bakery. Person C’s religion is opposed to gay marriage, though, so Person C does not have to say yes to Person A and B’s request. Person A or B can sue Person C, but they will lose in court because Person C is protected by the RFRA.

Currently, 75% of Americans oppose discrimination against LGBT people, yet only 55% support same-sex marriage. Still, Governor Pence believes that it is against some peoples’ religion to serve LGBT people. For instance, under the new law, if a business owner believes it is against her religion to serve food at a gay wedding, she doesn’t have to. However, the backlash to the original RFRA bill was so strong, Governor Pence quickly worked to rewrite the bill to clarify that it does not allow discrimination. Those who disagree with any of the Indiana RFRA law might side with an opinion offered by NPR’s correspondent, Steve Inskeep:  “I wonder if there are people who are uncomfortable as a matter of conscience with gay marriage who might, with reason, [act as though] their job is simply to sell flowers…that their job is not to judge either way, that none of us are put on Earth to judge.” This battle is still ongoing, and other states, including Arkansas and Oregon, are struggling with similar conflicts.


The Cost of a Cake

By Isabel Vestergaard ’21 and Mick Leungpathomaram ’21

Governor Mike Pence signed discriminating legislation on March 27, 2015, that sparked protests all over Indiana.  This allowed business owners to turn down gay customers ‘to respect the business owner’s religion.’

Pence had signed the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration act.  This may make it harder for the gay community in Indiana to find a good place to eat, or go to a good company.  However, Pence signed a bill to overhaul the act on April 2, 2015.  This made both the liberal and conservative groups protest, saying Pence didn’t do enough, and he went to far, respectively.

Simon '15 works with sixth grade students. (Photo: George Zaninovich)

Simon ’15 works with sixth grade students. (Photo: George Zaninovich)

In central Indiana, about 4.5 percent of people are gay.  It’s estimated that 80 percent of people know someone who is gay.  Many people say “The law is discriminating gays”, as the wording does not specifically target gays, it just says business owners can turn down people based on their religious beliefs.   Also, 63% of people in the US support same-sex marriage.  Since there is a sizable majority, the conservatives should back down.

Before being overhauled, the law was met with outrage from several large companies in Indiana. The NCAA, who would be holding the Final Four in Indianapolis, were among the first to protest the law.  As an example an article in the “New York Times” states about how a gay athlete stands up for himself, and his beliefs.  When Memory Pizzas used the law, they were criticized by many people, and eventually the owners went into hiding.  However, a disportionate amount of donations poured in to support the pizzeria ( -$842,387.  In Oregon, a group of Christian bakers could face charges of at least 150,000 dollars for turning away a lesbian couple.


Addressing Indiana’s “Religious Freedom” for the Respect of All

By Michael Putz ’21 and Eve Cody ’21

On March 31st, 2015, the Indiana state governor, Mike Pence, introduced a new bill granting business owners the right to turn away gay and lesbian customers, in the name of “religious freedom.” Religions such as Christianity tend to frown upon homosexuality, and many people have agreed because it just seems unnatural to them. However, the NCAA has been concerned because there are quite a few homosexual players in their league. They are worried that this may impact those players in a negative way, although the Indiana government says that they will “work diligently” to ensure that nothing of the sort happens. Gay marriage in Indiana is still illegal, part of an ongoing Supreme Court case of whether gay marriage is protected by the Constitution and should therefore be legal in all states.

We must face this problem from all angles, making sure we don’t miss anything important, such as that the whole Indiana government is straight, including Mike Pence, so when they make their “religious freedom laws” they are permitting the state to hate gays and lesbians without permanently damaging themselves, or their families. That is not to say they are prejudiced against gays, and many Americans may feel the same, but the impact on other people’s lives should be considered. Hating gays is legal, but hating them so much that they can’t be married or shop at certain businesses, and having that protected by law, seems a bit much. It really isn’t that different from segregation and Jim Crow- only people of all races are on the receiving end. As Obama quotes in his speech on gay and lesbians:

“Gays and lesbians deserve the same, equal, even laws.”

Obama’s imperative was not to treat gays and lesbians differently, but to treat them as though they are any other supplementary American, which they are.

Seeing as religions like Roman Catholic and Orthodox Jewish forbid homosexuality, and the Episcopal Church does not allow gay couples to be married in one of their churches, combined with the fact that in nature, the sole purpose of mating was to produce offspring, it seems understandable some may support this new bill. But it should also be considered that marriage is also a way for you to be with the person businesses refuse to make a cake or provide flowers or catering. Remember, being gay or lesbian is not a choice, it’s just the way you were born. It’s just like refusing service to someone because of their eye color; something they can’t help.


Supreme Court Discusses Ban on Same Sex Marriage

By Bram Nutt ’21 and Divine Niyungeko ’21

Supreme court, on April 28, 2015, will view the complaints of people in four states. One of those complaints is from a gay couple that wants to adopt three kids but cannot with the ban in place.

The discussions on same sex marriage have been going for a long time now and is just now being brought to be a Supreme Court case. Between the years of 1970-1999. Such as the first mass same sex marriage, October 10, 1987 at National Mall in Washington, D.C., and same sex couples are allowed in some states. Years 2000-2004, Denmark became the world’s first country to legalize same sex marriage which started a trend in countries to do the same such as the first legal gay marriage in the U.S. During 2005-2011, many, but not all, U.S. states were banning gay marriages, but in other countries such as Spain same sex marriage is legalized. Between years 2012- present day in many states and countries it is legal to for people of the same sex to marry, including Oregon which was the 18th state to legalize gay marriage. On Friday, January 16, 2015 the U.S. Supreme court agreed to to rule on gay marriage to decide on whether it should be legal in all 50 states.

If it is legalized in all fifty states the US will become the third largest country in the world with gay marriage after Russia and Canada.The first case that went to the supreme court was in 1970. When two men attempted to get marriage license but were denied this case then went to the supreme court but, was shrugged off by the judges. Then in 1973 Maryland banned same sex marriage and gradually so did the other states until 1994 when most of the U.S. was banned from same sex marriage. Then in 1998 Alaska and Hawaii lifted the ban for gay marriage and made it legal. Now 37 states have no ban at all on gay marriage and if the supreme court case ends up allowing it in the US we will be more of a free country.