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The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

The Forum

The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

The Forum

Conditioned to See Only Black and White

Will Nuelle

If, instead of the politicians that make up the Illinois House of Representatives, Illinois Senate, and our Governor Pat Quinn’s office, Latin students were to vote on the legality of same-sex marriage in Illinois, it would’ve passed unanimously by now – perhaps even years ago. At Latin, the issue of same-sex marriage seems to be far more clear cut than in the rest of the world, in both a political and social sense. We’ve grown up in a community that wholeheartedly embraces the idea of allowing anyone who wishes to get married the ability to. It seems logical, right? In our community, the support of same-sex marriage is accepted almost without question. Perfect, right? No, not perfect, because there exists a dimension outside of our nice little politically correct bubble; there exists – dare I say it – the real world.

At Latin, the CAUSE is making the biggest steps towards not only opening a dialogue about same-sex marriage at Latin, but also increasing vocal support for gay marriage inside the school. They are making valiant efforts and consistently creating innovative new ways to spread their message. As a result, there is continual overwhelming support for the club and its efforts.

I recently asked ten Latin students over Facebook how they felt about same-sex marriage. At random – without any preface – I asked the question, “what do you think about same-sex marriage?” It is a pretty loaded question with many implications, however the responses didn’t seem to reflect that complexity. Most of the messages I sent out were returned with instantaneous responses in support of gay marriage. There were no ifs, ands, or buts about the question, no grey area at all. My question even yielded a “LOVEEE ITTT” from one student (and a lamenting response from another because I hadn’t told him beforehand what the purpose of the question was). It seemed odd to me that an opinion on  such a hotly-contested subject in American politics – a radical subject – came so second naturedly to Latin School students. Very few students I asked – even the ones who said they strongly support it – offered much explanation as to why.

The support for same-sex marriage is all well and good, but are we supporting it as a school for the right reasons? I have not been a stranger to times in our halls where a person doesn’t immediately support same-sex marriage and therefore is chastised for it. It seems like the attitude is that everyone has to conform to support same-sex marriage because, as a community, we believe that it’s objectively correct. I do believe in the freedom to marry whoever you want, but I also believe in the freedom for a person to decide what is right and wrong in their mind without being berated for their decision. On that same note, why is it that we feel the need to so rigidly support same-sex marriage? For a school that so strongly believes in diversity of opinion, it seems that on this matter we revert to the expectation of a singular opinion. It’s not a spoken expectation that students should believe that same-sex marriage should be legalized, but rather a tacit one; it’s certainly a vibe throughout the school. I alone know more than one student who may feel oppressed by that vibe. Chicago is one of America’s bluest cities and students could surely be influenced by Illinois politics. On Valentine’s Day, the Illinois Senate voted to legalize gay marriage, which would set Illinois up to be the 10th state to legalize it (assuming it passes successfully through the other branches). Part of me thinks the cause for our unconditional love of gay marriage might be because we believe it is politically correct to support it.

Same-sex marriage is certainly a great cause to support. However, my words of advice to any student is to evaluate your own personal reason for supporting the cause – and the CAUSE – not simply because it is haute couture to do so. Also, be willing to have discussions about the topic, and never let anyone convince you that your opinion is wrong because it differs from the norm, (in this case what people think is socially acceptable). And if advocating for same-sex marriage is truly a cause that you feel strongly about, then continue your efforts outside of school. You already have most of us convinced: why not convince our Illinois government to make same-sex marriage legal?


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  • S

    sfriptMay 2, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    The statement Mr. O’Toole wrote above is essential and should be printed in every classroom and office in the school.

  • B

    botooleMay 2, 2013 at 10:34 am

    All students should feel safe to express their opinion on any topic in this school. There are ways to have discussions that don’t inflame emotions unnecessarily. Don’t assume that people who disagree with you are ignorant. They may be approaching the issue from a very different perspective than your own, one that you may have never considered.

  • M

    Mary JaneMay 1, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    Hmm. Remember back when we were talking about schools having a responsibility to instill values, Will? This reminds me of that- at least it seems related. Anyway, I agree that we have a hyper PC environment at Latin, and that often dissenting to what “everyone” agrees to is a bad move, socially. But that’s not just with same sex marriage. That’s with everything.