Thursday, April 26, 2012

No Mo' Homo: Missouri's latest right-wing craziness

Well, my 'things that piss me off' posts seem to be the most popular; that, combined with a week of petty annoyances, means it's time for yet another installment, this time focused entirely on House Bill 2051--a bill (just a bill, here on Capitol Hill) introduced into the Missouri State legislature that would serve to make any discussion of homosexuality in Missouri schools illegal. Well, other than during sex ed--you know, those courses that teach abstinence as the sole method of STI and pregnancy prevention. Ah, such an enlightened state. Then again, having been born and raised (and currently residing) in Missouri, I can't throw in the towel and let the right wing run roughshod over Missouri's kids. I was one of them, just a few years ago--and if it weren't for the support I got from teachers, counselors, and social workers at my school, I know I wouldn't be where I am today--and might not be here at all.

So what does the bill say? Well, it's short--and has the potential to be wide-reaching in ways that frequently only short pieces of legislation can be (for my fellow Harry Potter fans--remember Dolores Umbridge's endless decrees as High Inquisitor of Hogwarts?). In fact, the bill in its entirety is shorter than the last few sentences I've typed describing it:

170.370. Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, no instruction, material, or extracurricular activity sponsored by a public school that discusses sexual orientation other than in scientific instruction concerning human reproduction shall be provided in any public school.

Well, ok, so that means they'll have to get rid of drama club--but what else does this bill accomplish? (OK, ok, I shouldn't have singled out the drama kids. They'll have to eliminate girls' softball, too.)

No more Gay-Straight Alliances (which have been shown, in some studies, to reduce the risk of suicide for LGBT youth at schools where they are present). Teachers (and principals, and counselors) wouldn't be able to discipline kids for bullying based on sexual orientation--or even reprimand a student for using orientation-based slurs. They also wouldn't be able to provide support to LGBT youth struggling with their identity, or to aid them in the coming out process. No out-and-proud teachers. No mentioning that, in addition to their pivotal roles in history, Alexander the Great, Alvin Ailey, Jane Addams and W.H. Auden (just to stick to the As) also had same-sex relationships. Because if you pretend hard enough that something doesn't exist, it just goes away--right? RIGHT? 

Actually, no. Unless by 'go away' you're referencing the fact that 30% of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth attempt suicide at some point--and that a bill like this which further decreases their already limited social supports will make things worse, not better. In that case, the problems of gay youth won't go away--just the kids themselves.

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