Friday, February 25, 2011

Tennessee Legislators Want Schools To Not "Say the Gay"

    For those readers of mine who do not follow Tennessee politics, State Representative Bill Dunn and State Senator Stacey Campfield have once again introduced the "Don't Say Gay" bill into the Tennessee Legislature. Thanks to the valiant efforts of the Tennessee Equality Project this bill has not got anywhere in the past, but these Republican legislators from Knoxville just cannot stop in their attempt to marginalize LGBT people. 

Here is the text of the proposed bill....

(1) The general assembly recognizes the sensitivity of particular subjects  that are best explained and discussed in the home.  Human sexuality is a complex subject with societal, scientific, psychological, and historical implications; those implications are best understood by children with sufficient maturity to grasp their complexity.   
(2) Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, no public elementary or middle school shall provide any instruction or material that discusses sexual orientation other than heterosexuality.
Senator Campfields Office released the following statement in a press release...
 "It's the family's responsibility and not someone with an agenda - one way or the other. The bill is neutral. We should leave it to families to decide when it is appropriate to talk with children about sexuality - specifically before the eighth grade."
    I for one, would believe in the validity of Sen. Campfields opinion on this issue - that the family should talk with children about sensitive issues of sexuality - if in fact the bill forbade ALL mentions of orientation. This would mean no discussion on mommy's and daddy's, no discussion about marriage, no discussion about having crushes, nothing! But does the bill do this? Of course not, for to do that would be completely ridiculous. Family structures, orientation, and love all are discussed in the classroom at almost all levels of education., maybe not graphic details of sex - but at least teachers talk about what makes a family and how people fall in love.

    But does this bill eliminate any discussion about sexual orientation? No, it only eliminates the discussion when it comes to any orientation OTHER THAN heterosexuality. That alone gives the impression that the government does have the authority to talk about sexual orientation; but only that orientation which is deemed "normal" by society. Thus, this bill ostracizes a large minority of children within Tennessee, telling them that they are not normal.

    What are the ramifications of this bill? Would it bar school counselors from assisting a child who might be bullied because of his sexual orientation? Would this bill, overall, bar schools from implementing anti-bullying programs that deal with sexual orientation? Based upon its wording it sure seems like it.

      Not only will this bill have noticeable effects on LGBT youths and their self-worth by telling them that they are not normal, but it reinforces the idea that Tennessee is a backward portion of the nation. While school districts all across the country are implementing programs to protect their students and their sexual orientation from harassment, Tennessee is going in the opposite direction - sweeping the issue under the rug because some parents may feel uncomfortable with reality. When someones feelings take precedence over someones safety - especially the safety of a child - there is a big problem.

1 comment:

  1. Sadly Tennessee is still on the fence with this type of subject, I being born and raised in Tennessee all my life deal with it all the time, I have seen a big change over the years on the subject but sadly there are still those people living in the stone age, a lot of my family memebers being some of them. I am proud to be a gay 32 year old southern boy and I have battled the reality of hate in this great state all my life but time will change hopefully close minded bigots wont last or win.


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