he state Senate in Tennessee has passed a bill to prevent teachers in kindergarten through eighth grade from discussing homosexuality in class. Supporters say the measure — which probably wouldn't become law before next year — would merely prevent educators from imposing their views on young and impressionable students. But opponents, who have called the proposal the "don't say gay" bill, say it will simply foster anti-gay discrimination. Who's right? (Watch George Takei's protest of the bill.)
The bigotry behind this proposal is undeniable: The "don't say gay" bill would be laughable if it weren't so "malevolent," says Truthdig. If this ever becomes law, the mere mention of same-sex attraction will become taboo for elementary school students. That will only tell gay or questioning kids there's something wrong with them, and make it more likely they'll grow up in a "a hateful environment."
"Tennessee Senate: 'Don't say gay' in school"
This is a matter for parents, not educators: This legislation isn't anti-gay, says the bill's sponsor, state Sen. Stacey Campfield, as quoted by Care2. It's about preventing teachers and counselors from pushing a gay agenda on students, and letting "families handle that issue." Parents have the right to decide how sensitive moral and personal issues are explained to their children.
"Tennessee Senate OKs 'don't say gay' in school bill"
But this solution would only leave children adrift: "Someone is going to be talking to your child about sexual orientation and sexuality," says David W. Shelton at the Clarksville, Tenn., Business and Heritage. Campfield's "childish anti-gay" bill just means those people will be immature peers, or preachers who "teach that all homosexuals will burn in hell" — instead of educators who might actually be qualified to provide helpful information.
"Don't say gay' bill will silence more than teachers"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- 14 wonderful words with no English equivalent
- Why Easter is so important to Christians
- Wounded in Boston, two brothers endure
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
- Why would a young person today be religious?
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 7 ways to quickly become a master at anything
Subscribe to the Week