Let us imagine a world where choosing your sexuality is as conscious, and awkward, as sex ed was.
So another religious fundamentalist has spoken out in support of a downright evil law against homosexuality, and he’s doing that thing they always do. Specifically, he’s talking about “homosexual behavior”, part of the general project to support the idea that homosexuality is something one chooses rather than something intrinsic.
Now, I’m not going to state definitively that the origins of homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality, and so on are well understood. The best current work in the field, as far as I know, indicates that it’s nothing resembling a conscious choice, but let’s actually set that aside for a moment. Let’s completely spot the fundamentalists this one, with the following hypothetical.
Let us imagine that one schoolday in, say, ninth grade, there’s no afternoon classes because it’s Sexuality Day. You and all the other kids troop down to the auditorium for a special presentation on how to properly choose your sexuality. Maybe your parents have talked with you about making this big decision, maybe they’ve just avoided the subject, maybe they’ve told you that it’s up to you to make up your own mind.
In the auditorium, you watch a cheesy old filmstrip from the 70s, all about the importance of choosing your sexuality, and the pros and cons of picking gay, straight, or bi. After the filmstrip, there are some guest speakers talking about why they chose the way they did, and counselors available to answer any questions kids might have, and pass out brochures with titles like “PICK GAY TODAY AND KEEP THE STORK AWAY!” or “STRAIGHT IS GREAT TO PROCREATE!” Basically it’s like Driver’s Education, only much worse. But hey, you’re fourteen, you’re glad of the break from classes.
At the end of this ungodly farce, everyone lines up at the privacy booths, where you get your Official Sexuality Form and a little stub pencil, and you go in the booth and check the box for the sexual orientation you want. And that’s your sexuality for the rest of your life. It’s officially on file, so it’s easily checked if anyone ever doubts your orientation. I have to admit, as a straight man who dresses neatly and enjoys the work of Stephen Sondheim, that would save me some time and stereotyping.
The point is, in this world, sexual orientation is absolutely, definitively, a choice. There was a cheesy public-school filmstrip, that makes it official. The fundamentalists are absolutely right about it being a choice, and you have a box checked on a form to prove it.
My question is this: even given that world, what legal or moral right does anyone have to pick on someone for checking the other box?
Now when I say “pick on”, let’s put this in context. We’re talking mockery, dehumanization, disownment by family, verbal and physical abuse, employment discrimination, reduced legal rights, and other social and legal penalties up to and including legalized or unpunished murder. That, in the actual grownup world, is the range of abuses faced by homosexuals on a normal basis.
Even if we stipulate facts not in evidence, i.e. that the victim is known to have checked Box B instead of Box A in ninth grade, I still cannot imagine a legal or moral case justifying any of that. Am I missing something?