Someone tell me this is a mistake.
I really enjoy language, so when my class pulls around to triangles or polygons or tetrahedrons I make a point of dissecting the roots and prefixes. Nothing special. I’m pretty sure this is SOP for math classes nowadays.
“So what’s polytheism then?”
“What are some other tri- words?”
“Guess how many troops a Roman centurion commanded?”
This only becomes dicey when we hit binomials in Algebra and circumcenters in Geometry.
I ask the question knowing full well what kind of box I’m opening up.
“What other words start with bi- ?”
Inevitably someone from the back throws out “bisexual” as some sort of pot-stirrer. The class then goes a little berzerk.
A few years ago, I would’ve issued a diffusive, somewhat collaborative laugh and said, “Okay, okay, okay, any other words?”
The last two years I’ve switched course a bit and played it humorlessly, acted like there is absolutely nothing funny about the word “bisexual.” Which isn’t to say I come down hard on the kid who popped off. (Next to blushing, I’m pretty sure that’s the worst play here.) I just treat the term with as much gravity as I would if she had suggested “bicycle” or “binoculars.”
I act humorless. I compliment the student on her recall. “Right,” I say. “A bisexual is someone who is attracted to two genders.” And then I move on to another suggestion.
I just … well … I know there’s a difference between sexual harassment, which is an ongoing problem at my school and in my classes, and sexual curiosity, which legitimately affects all my students. (I mean, it’s not like their teacher isn’t still affected.) Obviously, I should discourage the former. Less obvious, however, is the extent to which I should encourage the latter.
More than anything here I’m trying to maintain my permanently impermanent status in my kids’ lives as an adult who isn’t quite an Adult, the difference being one of age & wisdom vs. authority & intractability.
Someone tell me the best way to handle this.