Not Just Hypothetical

This blog, I realize, is mostly theoretical musing, but that is starting to change. I'm not going to be making any drastic decisions, but some things are coming up that don't allow this issue to be purely hypothetical for me anymore. As you may know, I am a HS student and will be going into my junior year. I am currently signed up for Seminary but haven't yet registered for it at church--and I'm not completely sure I want to. My schedule is really a mess right now, and Seminary would be a sacrifice. Right now I find myself wondering if it's worth it.

Last year, Seminary was not the best experience, as you may remember from my "Adam & Eve" post. Kids were peddling homophobic t-shirts in class, and one day, my teacher ended a lesson by saying that homosexuality is caused by pornography and masturbation, his copy of The Miracle of Forgiveness in hand. Last year was also the maiden voyage of our school's Gay-Straight Alliance (which I was involved in), and between the budding GSA and Prop. 8, Seminary became a place for kids to bash gay people. So I find myself wondering, Why would I want to put myself through that again?

There actually are a few reasons. For one thing, it would be nice to have BYU(-I) as a back-up college option in case my Stanford bid falls through. The problem, of course, is that it's...difficult to get a BYU(-I) scholarship without Seminary graduation. Extenuating circumstances might change that, but in my case--where Seminary is a well-established program--it may well be impossible.

Then again, Why would I want to go to BYU, one of the harshest campuses for gay students in Academia? It really comes down to keeping my options open. Who knows what the future might bring for me, or if things might change? It's good to have a Plan B and remain flexible.

Still, it seems a little absurd to endure homophobic slamming in Seminary only to able to endure homophobic slamming at BYU.

Any advice?


Bravone said...

I think that homophobic slamming can be found in more places than just seminary or BYU. I don't know that sacrificing the spiritual nourishment seminary, mutual, or Sunday meetings can bring to our lives is worth the boycott because of the occasional thoughtless, cutting remarks of spiritually ignorant individuals.

If we avoid all venues where we might be offended by others, we'd live a pretty lonely life. Just my thoughts.

MoHoHawaii said...

I wouldn't recommend BYU or BYU-I for gay people. Read the blogs of gay BYU students for a description of what it's like.

You definitely need backup schools. Have you considered a state school as a back up?

Abelard Enigma said...

You say you are involved in the gay-straight alliance at school. Are you 'out' to your seminary teacher and fellow students?

In any case, I would consider talking to your bishop and saying exactly what you wrote in this post - that seminary is an unfriendly place.

As a seminary teacher myself (early morning) - I can tell you that what your seminary teacher did was wrong. Homosexuality was NOT part of the New Testiment curriculum last year in any way shape or form - and we had it pounded into our heads that we were NOT to discuss political issues during the seminary class time. We were to stick to the curriculum.

You could also consider writing to CES (Church Educational System) with a formal complaint - saying that seminary was an unfriendly place.

In any case, I can, at least, assure you that homophobic comments are not tolerated in my seminary class.

Scott said...

I have no personal experience, but I have many (gay) friends who've been to BYU and the majority of them have disliked the experience very much. There have been many improvements over the last few years in the treatment and acceptance of gay students (as long as you're not acting on your attractions) by the school itself, but the student body mirrors the general membership of the Church: although there are loving and accepting individuals, they tend to be the exception rather than the rule, and a gay student at BYU is likely to encounter homophobia in one form or another on a regular basis.

I agree with Bravone's statement that you shouldn't let other people's small-mindedness determine where you go or what you do in life, but only to a point. If BYU has an excellent program in whatever field you're going into, for example, and your career would benefit from you going there, then the attitudes you might encounter shouldn't be a deal-breaker in deciding whether or not to attend.

But if there are numerous other options that are equal in every other respect and that are more tolerant of gay students, it seems silly to subject yourself to an uncomfortable environment unnecessarily.

... But your question was really more about seminary, right?

If the only reason you're considering seminary at all is to increase your odds of getting a scholarship at BYU-I, I wonder if that's enough reason?

But if you're interested in the gospel study or the spiritual side of things, and you're only considering skipping seminary because of the hurtful comments that were made last year...

Then I would again agree that you shouldn't let others' attitudes keep you from getting what you want out of life. Register for seminary, and then be proactive in taking steps to ensure that it's as healthy an environment for spiritual growth as it can be (following Abelard's suggestions re: talking to your bishop and/or writing to the CES dept., for example).

As always, I'm impressed with the maturity with which you are facing each decision in your life. Best of luck!

Frank Lee Scarlet said...

Thanks for the advice, everyone. I really do appreciate it. I will clarify something, though. This is not me sitting down, choosing classes willy-nilly, and then wondering whether or not I should take Seminary because of some homophobic comments from last year. If that were the case, there would be no question--I certainly would take it, for several reasons.
Unfortunately, though, that's not quite how it is. Instead, it's me sitting down with a counselor to discuss several bad schedule options, trying to work out the least unwieldy arrangment of classes that will also enable me to graduate, and then asking myself if working in Seminary is worth the logistical/academic sacrifice and frustration it is turning out to be.
That said, I think I will try to make Seminary work. At the end of the day, I want to keep my options open, and I would like to study the Book of Mormon.

@Bravone: See above. It's not that I would go out of my way to avoid Seminary, it's just that I'm not sure I want to go out of my way to take it.
@MoHoHawaii: I do have several back-up schools in mind, and if I had to choose a college today, I wouldn't want to go to BYU(-I). But that won't be for a couple of years, and it's possible that things might change before then. You're right, though--if I feel as I do now when I apply, I probably will not shoot for Church schools because of the wretched experiences of gay students there, not to mention BYU's track history advocating electro-shock.
@Abe: Thanks for your advice, which I will follow. It's one thing when a few students say something, but it's quite another when it's the teacher! I don't want to get him in trouble, but I think a letter to CES (written in general terms) is in order.
@Scott: See main response. You're right in that I need to evaluate my motivations. If I were to be perfectly honest, I would say that BYU(-I) scholarship/admission eligibility is a major factor, so I do need to think things over.

Thanks all!