Monday, April 25, 2011

Don’t Say “Gay”

Some folks in Tennessee are all twitterpated that kids in high school might hear the word “gay” and suddenly become it, I suppose. So back in February a state legislator introduced a bill that would make discussing homosexuality in public schools illegal. Last week the bill cleared a state senate panel.

As introduced, the bill would have put into law a declaration that it is illegal to discuss any sexual behavior other than heterosexuality prior to the ninth grade.

But when it came before the Senate Education Committee, Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, contended current law already prohibits such instruction by deeming it a misdemeanor to teach any sex education that is not part of the “family life curriculum” adopted by the state Board of Education.

Campfield contends homosexuality is being discussed in classrooms. Spokesmen for the Board of Education and the state Department of Education told the committee they are unaware of any such activity.

A couple of points here: being gay is certainly a part of a “family life,” and has been since time out of mind. Not talking about the fact that someone in the family, including Mom or Dad, might be gay but are so repressed by the social pressures to conform to some legislated heteronormative stereotype actually destroys their ideal of the Ozzie-and-Harriet white bread patriarchal family. An added dose of guilt along with the Jesus-talk and Velveeta isn’t going to help matters.

Not talking about it, especially in high school when kids are not just aware of their sexuality but start acting on it, is a roadmap to disaster and pain. Getting them to talk about it openly and in a non-judgmental matter removes the stigma and the mystery, and provides them with the information that they’re going to find out anyway but in a far less dangerous way. As anyone over the age of five knows, forbidding someone to talk about something is the surest way to get them interested in it.

But what is most mystifying about this story is the question of why are these people so afraid of gay people? What did we ever do to them to make them hate us so much that they have to pass laws forbidding people from even talking about us? It sounds like they are in desperate need of some help. Perhaps talking about it would be good for them.

HT to CLW.