It’s things like this that make me wish I had grown up anywhere else. I grew up in TN. I went to school for 16 years in TN. As a very young kid my mother stressed to me “Never talk about religion and politics.” I was in 6th grade or so before I really understood. Like many other kids at the time, I was beginning to discover the world at large, picking up on fads, and really beginning to think as my own person. It was during a time when the Ying and Yang symbol became a popular “meme” though that terminology wasn’t used at the time. I bought a little Ying and Yang ring and wore it all the time. A woman at my church, well meaning I hope, lectured me about wearing a “sign of the devil”. When I said it was something about “Chinese religion” (yes, I am aware of how WOEFULLY unknowing I was) she replied that the devil used it that way to trick people into believing in him and all other religions were just his way of keeping people from God.
Seriously. I am not even kidding. Here I am, 12 years old, and THIS is the kind of thing I was being told by a “trustworthy” source. She was an elder of our church. She was my Sunday School Teacher. And she was not above giving me completely inaccurate information to support her own beliefs. The ends justifying the means and all that. Lucky for me, at 12, I had already realized that there were some adults in my life who weren’t as smart as me. So I did what every nerd does when confronted with conflicting information. I looked it up in the encyclopedia. (The equivalent to checking Wikipedia these days I suppose.)
All this leads to the deep and oppressive belief for some people that they are right, everyone else is wrong, and their complete certainty supports even the most heinous of acts, because the other person was wrong. These “well meaning” people are really just self centered, close-minded bigots who want control over everyone else. Sadly this mentality seems to be pervasive in the South. Maybe it is the excess of religion. Maybe it is the excess of poverty. Regardless, it is bothersome.
There is a mountain of evidence that supports that homosexuality is not a choice. (Yes, I linked the wiki article, you can see the references at the bottom of the article.) If the person is over the age of 18, it’s none of our business who they have sex with or even who they marry. How backwards is TN that there homosexuals are having to fight for the ability to TALK about themselves while in other states they are fighting for the right to marry? Stop this! It’s discrimination! All men are created equal! Regardless of whether they like men or women.
What makes this so much worse is that it is targeting kids. Sort of. My point is that here you have adolescents, growing and learning how to be people, and the State Senate is withholding information from them that might be vitally important. I was in 3rd grade when I first kissed a boy. I was in 4th grade when I first kissed a girl. I knew immediately afterward that I liked boys. It was that simple for me. But what if it wasn’t? I don’t think I ever told my mom I kissed anyone, but I know I talked to friends, and I remember talking to a teacher about it. Kids need to have people they can trust, with experience to either help them through their problems, or at the very least find someone who can help them through their problems. School sucks on so many levels. You are learning a ton of information. You are beginning to build relationships outside your family. You are beginning to worry about college, careers, and even becoming aware of the world and all the problems in it. Add to this the hormones, first periods (the male equivalent?), discovering the other sex, bullying, possible family problems, and sheer awareness and you have for someone of the most traumatic years of someone’s life!
So what is a kid supposed to do during this time to come out relatively unscathed? TALK. Oh that’s right. Talk to parents, talk to teachers, talk to guidance counselors. Talk to people they trust. Talk to people with experience who can guide them a bit. And in TN they are trying to take that safety net AWAY. Do I think it should be talked about every day in every class? No, but then I don’t think sex and violence should be either. But I am not the teacher. I am not the parent. I am not the one on the front line having to help a kid deal with their budding sexuality or help a class understand why Suzy has two mommies. Neither are these Senators. They need to educate their teachers, counselors, and administration on how to handle these situations with tact, wisdom, and grace, not make a legal argument that could land a helpful teacher in jail!
I never really thought much about George Takei before. I liked Star Trek, but I was always more of a Spock girl. When he saw the news on this, his first response was to offer up his own name as a replacement. It’s okay to be Takei. Instead of being gay, you can just be Takei. At this moment, I was not only suddenly a Takei fan, but I was also thrilled that someone with the public eye like him was willing to stand up and say, this isn’t right, and is in fact incredibly stupid, we will just circumvent your idiot law.
Ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away. Not talking about it doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen or kids aren’t going to be gay. We never talked about it in my school, and yet three of my classmates are now openly homosexual, one of which is fighting for the right to get married. It’s going to happen. Teachers need to be prepared, not ignoring the elephant in the room. Who says “Ohhhhh myyyyyyy.”