Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tennessee Senate passes “Don’t Say Gay” bill

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“Say Gay! Oppose SB49”
“Say Gay! Oppose SB49”

The Tennessee Senate has decided that kids younger than 14 don’t need to know that gay people exist:

NASHVILLE, TN - NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - State law would forbid Tennessee public school teachers and students in grades kindergarten through eight from discussing the fact that some people are gay, under legislation that passed Friday in the state Senate.


It passed the Senate 20-10. The bill isn't likely to be taken up by the House before lawmakers adjourn this spring, but the sponsor there has said he would push it forward in 2012 when the General Assembly comes back for the second year of the session.

Under the proposal, any instruction or materials at a public elementary or middle school will be "limited exclusively to age-appropriate natural human reproduction science." The provisions would also apply to a group or organization that might provide such instruction.

The legislation was amended from the original version which said no elementary or middle schools will "provide any instruction or material that discusses sexual orientation other than heterosexuality." Republican Senate sponsor Stacey Campfield of Knoxville said some of his colleagues were uncomfortable with that language.

"There's more than one way to skin a cat," Campfield said after the vote. "I got what I wanted."

He said the language is appropriate because "homosexuals don't naturally reproduce," and he said it's necessary because the state's curriculum is unclear on what can be taught.


He said the bill focuses on an age range where students are most impressionable.

"They don't have a clear understanding, and a lot of times I think it can lead to confusion," he said, referring to the discussion of homosexuality.

Why, what flawless reasoning. Gays and lesbians don’t fornicate with others of the opposite sex, ergo, kids shouldn’t learn about homosexuality. And kids aren’t sure what to think about homosexuality, so let’s stop schools from actually teaching them about it at all. Because, clearly, the best way for them to make up their own minds about gays and lesbians is to have other kids on the playground tell them about it, rather than responsible adult educators. Brilliant.

But, why stop there? Kids also aren’t very well educated when it comes to things like sex and drugs. Obviously, the logical answer is to stint all sex ed and drug awareness programs in schools as well. After all, kids are too young to be learning about such things. They’ll learn on their own in due time. Surely, they’ll be the ones to make the best decisions about these matters when the time comes.

Sarcasm aside, the bigger issue here isn’t just that legislators apparently think kids wouldn’t ever know that some people, including some of their own classmates, prefer to kiss people of the same gender rather than the opposite. Worse, this bill essentially destroys any attempt at teaching students about acceptance and homophobia, and what’s more, schools will be effectively powerless to help kids who are victimized by anti-gay bullying. “What’s that, Timmy? Why, no, of course you’re not being targeted because some jerks think you like other boys. Same-sex attraction doesn’t exist, Timmy! It’s all imaginary, and don’t you ever talk about it again. Until you turn 14. No, don’t ask why, just do it.

Leave it to Republicans to think that the best way to deal with something, especially such a prominent aspect of society and human sexuality as the fact that anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the populace is homosexual, is to try and bury it under futile legislation and to stick their heads in the sand and pretend it doesn’t exist. And, as usual, they’ve managed to drag the children into it. Isn’t it ironic that those who most often screech to “think of teh children!” are the primary instigators of so many of the ills that kids actually have to deal with these days?

At any rate, if educators can’t tell kids about homosexuality, they can always assure them that it’s okay to be Takei.

(You knew I had to work that in somewhere, right?)

(via Joe. My. God.)