Not too long ago, I had a conversation with my 15 year old nephew that broke my heart.  He's being raised in a Fundy, conservative household, and seems to have swallowed it hook, line and sinker. I do have hope for him, though, as he is very intelligent and does seem to think a lot.... if not always for himself.

Anyhow, what broke my heart is that he believes that homosexuality isn't "natural".  When I asked him to quote sources, he quoted a neighbor who plays the stock market.  When I asked him to tell me what the stock market had to do with biology or human sexuality, he got into a "No it isn't"/"Yes it is", brief argument with me.  I stopped it, as I know those things are a deadend street.

Anyhow... if someone could recommend books or websites suitable for an intelligent teenager that doesn't challenge his god beliefs, but gives a good explanation of critical thinking, and why it is so important, I would be most grateful.

Also, books or websites that explain how homosexuality is natural.  Something from a biological and/or psychological perspective would be helpful, and aimed at a 15 year old..

My ace in the hole (maybe, or maybe not) is that I'm bisexual.   My siblings know, but they have been floating down the Nile for a long time now, and probably have shoved that where the knowledge that I'm an atheist also got hidden.  I'm sure my sister hasn't told my nephews that I'm bisexual.  I suspect the heat of an argument is not the right time to come out to a kid.  I'm wondering if talking to him about my experience (not sexual, of course) being bisexual might possibly make him think twice about his stance.

Any input or advice from people who have successfully dealt with teenagers would be much appreciated.

Tags: critical thinking, homophobia

Views: 22

Replies to This Discussion

That's a tough one. Two good podcasts for learning critical thinking are Skeptoid and SGU 5 x 5. Also Monstercast. Good luck!
Are they suitable for a 15 year old living with Fundie parents?
Thanks! I'm hoping that reading something like this will get him out of arguing things the way his parents do. As soon as one questions their position, they backpedal with "Well, statistics can be made up", etc...

I think I'll also send him some material on supposed homosexual behaviour in nature, and if he wants to argue about it, I'll bring up my bisexuality then. Thanks for the reco!
I suggest this film: For the Bible Tells Me So

and

These books:
Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price
The Guide to Getting It On

Now, with the second recommended book, it is more of a "how to" book and will not go over well with his parents, so one suggestion would be to buy the book yourself (which I highly recommend because the book is fucking phenomenal) and have him read the chapters dealing with gay and bisexual sexuality. I used to use this book as a major reference when I worked as a public sexual health educator for Planned Parenthood. It is truly a gem!

Also, if you are looking for something a little less "educational" but still informative, have him watch But, I'm a Cheerleader!
There is no way I would send him "The Guide To Getting It On". I might secretly give it to him when he turns 18, or when he moves out. His parents would blow a gasket if I gave it to him before then.. I have a copy myself. It's a lovely book, I wish more people would read it. Refreshing that the author acknowledges his own lack of knowledge in certain areas, and lists resources in those areas.

I've been trying to get him to visit for years, but first his parents had excuses, and now he does. I live far enough away that it takes some planning to visit. He could go through my books at his leisure. I'm just going to remind him occasionally that the welcome mat is out.

"For The Bible Tells Me So" looks brilliant! I may talk with my sister and see if she'll watch it with him. He won't watch films on his own.

Thanks for the reco's!
I second For the Bible Tells Me So. I’ve watched it a couple times, and it assumes that the audience is Christian. The best part, from my perspective, this cartoon clip from the documentary that looks at homosexuality from a scientific perspective:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYMjXucTFaM

The entire documentary is available as a playlist on YouTube.

I also second Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price. It’s an excellent book, and you could certainly read some chapters aloud with him.

I might also look for the short documentary No Dumb Questions, which focuses on a family with three daughters whose uncle undergoes a sex-change operation and how the family grapples with this new reality. It doesn’t discuss religion, but it’s thoughtful and funny, and I think has the effect of lowering people’s guard against non-normative sexualities a bit. I’m not sure if the documentary is available on YouTube in its entirety, but I did see several playlists for it. There has also been an update 5-years after the original documentary was made that looks interesting.

Regarding challenging his thoughts about a religion in a very non-confrontational way, I think understanding evolution is a wonderful inoculation against the virus of religion. There are a couple documentary series available online that you could watch with him. They are:

Carl Sagan’s Cosmos
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3NAW1U-swc&feature=PlayList&...

Journey of Life (BBC); 5-part series: Seas of Life, Land Grab, Airborne, Living Together, Human Life
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5GNXlTBNBw

Also, there are several good books written for youth that do a good job explaining evolution. You might look for them on Amazon or in your library.

Finally, I would add that I think the very BEST way to help someone overcome homophobia is to come out to them. When someone you know comes out to you, this seems to be the most effective way to overcome incorrect stereotypes. I would come out to him in a very laid-back, no-big-deal way.
Best of luck. Keep us posted!
If he finds the subject of philosophy interesting then some introductory books on the philosophy of ethics may help. (that did a great deal to pull me out of the Assemblies blind faith nonsense.) The big upside for me was knowing I had the right faith which made it easy for me to dive into it (It was one of my first college classes) without thinking it could change my mind.
Just introducing someone to the vast varieties of religions, morals and ethics from the philosophies own point of view often shows the mental gymnastics needed to make any one faith 'true'. This does so much to break the spell. Besides, it would be a book about ethics. Epicurus became a favorite of mine from this. It may also cover both bases.
Here is a description of the class I took, there is no 'required' book or I would include it (sorry) and if I find mine I'll add the title. (we have many books, so some of them get hidden).
PHIL 120 offers a detailed study of the principle theories of moral character and conduct in western culture, such as those of Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Mill, and Kant. Attention is also given to non-normative issues such as free will, determinism, relativism, absolutism, subjectivism and objectivism.
One potential approach would be to introduce him to the concept of skepticism. The skeptic community tries to stay away from religious topics in order to be more inclusive, and so the web sites and other materials might not directly challenge his faith. He can get exposed to concepts around needing evidence and arguments from authority and so on. The seeds that are laid there can bear a lot of fruit later on (although be patient, it could take years and years!).

There are some teen-oriented skeptical sites, including the SkepChick-affiliated Teen Skepchick (http://skepchick.org/teen/).

Specifically on the topic of homosexuality, you could turn him on to the YouTube debates. Pitch it as him needing to understand both sides to effectively argue his point. ZOMGitscriss is one of my favorites. She might work well with a teen boy because she is H-O-T hot, AND extremely well-spoken and persuasive. Here's my favorite piece from her on homosexuality that covers all the major points:

http://www.youtube.com/user/ZOMGitsCriss#p/u/52/Fm3cWytGAqw

Of course, you might get into trouble with his parents on that one. But he's a teen, he needs to rebel a little, right?

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