Thursday, January 24, 2008

Because if you don't talk about it, it doesn't exist

When I was in high school, we had a dog named Izzy. He was a good dog - friendly and patient (and loud). He generally was well behaved, as you might expect a collie mix to be. Every now and then, though, he'd do something that he just shouldn't. I remember one day, we had gone out (maybe to church? I can't recall where). I had bought a package of Oreos that I had opened and had about 4 cookies out of. When we left, I left the cookies on the computer desk in the family room. Izzy was not a dumb dog; and he managed to figure out how to get the cookies off of the table (which was taller than he) and, being that he likes food, he proceeded to eat all the cookies.

We got home, and I saw the cookie wrapper lying on the floor in the doorway between the family room and the living room. I look at Izzy, and I point to the cookie package saying "look at that!" The dog looks away. I go over to where he looks and I point at the package again - and he turns his head the other way. This continues for a few minutes, with Izzy never looking at the package. His strategy was to pretend that if he didn't see it, it wasn't there. Except of course, it was there.

Tennessee seems to be playing a similar game with homosexuality, that if you don't talk about the Gay, then the kids won't catch the Gay. State Representative Stacey Campfield has apparently decided that it's important for the state to protect their children by introducing legislation that would ban any discussion on homosexuality in elementary and middle schools. I first read about this and the proposed verbiage at the First Amendment Law Professors Blog here.

The language of the bill is as follows:
The general assembly recognizes the sensitivity of certain subjects that are best explained and discussed in the home. Human sexuality is an immensely complex subject with enormous societal, scientific, psychiatric and historical implications that are best understood by children with sufficient maturity to grasp such issues. Notwithstanding law to the contrary, no public elementary or middle school shall permit any instruction or materials discussing sexual orientation other than heterosexuality.
The bill itself is a bit confusing, in my opinion. If sexuality is so complex a subject to discuss, then why only ban one aspect of it? Wouldn't it make more sense to put a complete moratorium on it, if you were truly concerned about the children's ability to understand?

It also seems to me that this phraseology could pose some future problems with the Religious Right. The wording would ban all "materials discussing sexual orientation other than heterosexuality." A plain language interpretation of this bill would ban the Bible (read Leviticus lately?) - something that Religious Right has railing against for years. Additionally, the justification for this bill - that "the sensitivity of certain subjects are best explained and discussed at home" - is precisely the rationale many give for wanting to keep religion and religious education out of public schools.

I doubt this bill will make it very far, and I certainly hope it doesn't. Simply turning a blind eye to the Gay is not going to keep children from being gay. All this bill would do is demonstrate to a significant portion of the populace that their lifestyle is verboten.


Cassie said...

I remember that story about Izzy. He was one funny dog. I know that was not the point of your post but it sure brought back memories. Remember Danny and Miss Whiskers? We always wondered how a cocker spaniel could get food off of the back of the counter and then Mom rounded the corner into the kitchen and Miss Whiskers was knocking food down to Danny?

We've always had interesting animals.! said...

I just got back from San Francisco and I did not catch The Gay. I even went dancing - to house music! - in the Castro and I did not catch The Gay. Even after hanging out with my friend's gay entourage for four days, no The Gay.

I'm beginning to think I'm immune to The Gay.

Steve said...

Maybe you're a carrier for The Gay. Do a lot of your friends catch The Gay after they've been around you?

LissaKay said...

Honestly, I believe that Stacey was dropped on his head as a baby a few too many times. I also strongly suspect that he is a closet gay. He is definitely not the brightest bulb on the chandelier. I challenged him on his reasoning behind this proposed legislation, and well ... you can read about it HEAR

Very sad situation, it is ...