The right to privacy?

From Donald Douglas:

California State Colleges and Universities May Screen for Sexual Orientation in Admissions Applications

Tina Korbe beat me to this story, “California state colleges consider asking students about sexual orientation on application forms.

Korbe’s commenting on this morning’s front-page Los Angeles Times article, “California state colleges weigh asking students about sexual orientation.” But she’s missing something especially key at the report: LGBT screening will embed another layer of political correctness on campus and put pressure on instructors to satisfy the grievances of the various student constituencies. Years ago, at UCSB, a student in my Black Politics course told me that I wasn’t teaching the class the right way. He said I wasn’t supposed to focus on all these statistics and historical details, etc. I was supposed to teach the class from the approved perspective, to conform with the activist agenda. I was frankly shocked that a student had that much confidence to try to set the instructor straight. It was clear that I was supposed to teach in solidarity with the brothers and sisters. I was supposed to focus on the oppressed. It was a nightmare. (During that same class, I caught some black students cheating on the final exam and it turned into a disaster when the students’ parents got involved. As a doctoral candidate, I had no choice but to pass the students. It didn’t matter what happened. I heard talk of a lawsuit so no matter what happened during the final there would be no consequences for the students. The department chair had upbraided me earlier in the semester after minority students complained that I was grading too hard. By the time I dealt with the cheating thing I just wanted to get away from this upside down world where rules and standards didn’t matter all all, at the University of California.) I’m reminded of this after reading this quote at the Times‘ report:

UC Berkeley student Andrew Albright, who is gay and a student government activist, said some gay and lesbian students might be initially nervous about how their responses would be used.

But he said most would participate if the potential benefits, such as increased services, are made clear and if UC keeps its promises that an individual’s information will be confidential and only used in aggregates.

“I think in general it’s a good thing,” said Albright, a third-year political science and sociology major. Beyond counseling services, professors might alter approaches to various lectures if they know a sizable percentage of the class is gay or lesbian, he said.

More at Dr Douglas’ original.

I was interested in Mr Albright’s statement. While he stated that numbers would be held only in the aggregate, it would still make a difference in how professors would approach their class structure and lessons. But professors already know that there are people with non-traditional sexual orientations (how’s that for a euphemism?) in their colleges; for them to know that there are a larger number in their classes, individually, would mean that the professors would have to have some means of getting that information. Perhaps the registrar could print a pink triangle next to the non-traditional sexually oriented students’ names?1 As soon as that happened, and one person with a non-traditional sexual orientation failed one of a professor’s classes, such would be presented as evidence that he failed the student deliberately, or at least graded him more harshly, because the professor disapproved of non-traditional sexual orientations, and were specifically aware of that student’s.

College students wind up with plenty of opportunities to reveal their sexual orientations, though such things are normally done in the student center cafeteria, in dorms, and in student parties. In those, they wind up revealing their sexual orientations to the people they want to know their sexual orientations (not that they necessarily think about it in quite those dispassionate terms) as they try to engage in the particular activities toward which their sexual orientations push them.

I had thought, silly me!, that our friends on the left believed that people’s sexual orientations and activities were supposed to be private matters, and nobody’s business — certainly not the government’s business! — but their own and those with whom they chose to copulate. Yet we have people like the lovely Sandra Fluke telling us that not only should contraception be widely available — which it already is — but that other people should be compelled to pay for contraception for those who wished to use it. And now we have the non-traditional sexual orientees telling us that no, it’s not really private, but that a person’s sexual orientation ought to be a part of someone’s official government records, for whatever purposes the government has in keeping such records.

After all of their effort at persuading people that people’s sex lives are their own, private business, an effort which was largely successful, why do they feel a need now to make them the public’s business?

More, we have been told, by our friends on the left, that it is simply wrong to discriminate against someone on the basis of his sexual orientation. However, unlike race or ethnicity, a person’s sexual orientation is not a visible marker; it can only be determined if that person chooses to somehow communicate his sexual orientation to others, chooses to make his sexual preferences public information. To discriminate against someone based on his sexual orientation requires that someone’s sexual orientation be known; the surest way to prevent such discrimination is to not make it public information.

  1. The Nazis used pink triangles as identifying marks on homosexuals in concentration camps.

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