Gay Marriage and School Bathrooms

Will same-sex marriage turn public schools into orgies of sexual confusion?  Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis has connected the dots.

The Supreme Court is wrestling with two cases about same-sex marriage.

Conservatives have long insisted that same-sex marriage would lead to a breakdown in the value of marriage itself.  One commenter recently called same-sex marriage the threshold of an “abyss of nihilism.”

Ham’s analysis sexualizes that nihilism and brings it right into public schools.  Ham, America’s leading young-earth creationist, insists that same-sex marriage is only part of an “evolving sexual agenda.”  (Ham is a smart guy, so I am confident he chose that word—“evolving”—intentionally.)

In Ham’s recent piece, he argues that the next step after gay marriage will be a profound and aggressive attack on all traditional gender norms.  As evidence, he cites recent public-school guidelines in Massachusetts.  As we’ve noted on ILYBYGTH, these new school rules allow students to identify their own gender identity and require schools to respect those identifications.

As Ham writes, the trickiest part of this school rule has become bathrooms.  If a student was born a boy but identifies as a girl, Massachusetts schools must respect that choice. Ham worries about a boy who pretends to identify as a girl just to get access to the girls’ locker room.

Ham is not the first conservative thinker to make this connection between same-sex marriage and a sexual free-for-all in public schools.  But for those of us non-conservatives who try to understand conservatism in American education, Ham’s argument offers two important reminders.  First, schools are tied into every culture-war argument.  Though marriage laws seem relatively distant from education policy, conservative (and liberal) arguments against same-sex marriage often rely on the harmful effects gay marriage will have on children and schooling.  Second, for those outside the orbit of American creationism, Ham’s argument underscores the fact that creationism is an outgrowth of conservative Christianity, not the root.  Besides Ham’s use of the word “evolving” to damn the same-sex marriage “agenda,” this article does not talk about creationism or evolution.  Rather, Ham concludes that the main reason to oppose same-sex marriage and the abandonment of gender rules is more broadly Christian.  As Ham argues,

As Christians, we should affirm our children’s God-given genders and cultivate godly masculinity and femininity in them, rather than encouraging them to abandon the gender God gave them in the womb . . .

For Ham, as for many creationists, Christianity comes first.  Creationism is only one important element of the crusade.  Ham himself has often reminded readers of this fact.  Nevertheless, it is common for outsiders like me to pigeonhole Answers in Genesis as narrowly interested in establishing the case for a young earth.

As Ham’s recent argument proves, AiG’s sort of young-earth creationism has a much broader conservative agenda.